As members of the Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) movement continue their occupation of Ihumātao in Auckland, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has said that building houses to “offer accommodation for the whanau” should be given higher priority.
"We should be building houses to offer accommodation for the whānau, rather than saying that a scattered number of stones on an old cow farm have greater significance for Māori than building houses and keeping the tamariki warm and in a safe environment," Minister Jones said.
The Minister has also left a scathing remark towards the SOUL members, who he called “freedom campers”, and said that the visit of the Māori King and his advisors to meet with the protesters and the local hapū “are more than capable of sorting it out rather [than] dipping into the Crown balance sheet”.
King Tuheitia and his entourage of 800 individuals arrived at Ihumātao this weekend to meet with both SOUL and development company Fletcher Residential to find a way to move forward after weeks of protests. The construction company plans to build hundreds of houses on the site held sacred by Māori.