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Protecting Ihumātao

Protecting Ihumātao: Press Release from Ngā Aho, Māori Design Professionals Network

Ngā Aho, a national and international network of Indigenous design professionals, supports the view that the Ihumātao dispute is not a housing issue but a land issue as asserted by Rau Hoskins (Chair of Te Matapihi) and Prof Jenny Lee-Morgan in the Te Matapihi Ihumātao Press Release. The whenua of Ihumātao was taken unjustly by the Crown from mana whenua and we acknowledge that the Crown’s hara (wrongdoing) sits at the heart of today’s dispute. We also acknowledge the many years of protest and negotiation mana whenua have had to invest their energies in towards achieving justice for this whenua. Ihumātao is a significant site for all New Zealanders.

Ngā Aho asserts the need for cultural landscapes and housing solutions that are ‘just’ for all whānau, hapū and iwi and are embedded in meaningful Treaty relationships. Planning regulatory tools and the desire to increase housing availability in Tāmaki Makaurau, (Auckland) have led to ongoing injustices for mana whenua at Ihumātao. A Cultural Landscape Assessment commissioned by SOUL and conducted by members of Ngā Aho asserts that the proposed Fletchers development will sever the connection between the tupuna maunga and the longstanding papakainga of Ihumātao. This outcome is inconsistent with the Te Aranga Māori Design Principles (Te Aranga Principles) which Mana Whenua and Nga Aho practitioners developed, and which are now widely accepted as an authoritative guide to design development embracing matauranga Maori values.

The visibility of the Te Aranga Principles has been a significant step forward for Māori design, raising awareness of the relevance of Te Ao Māori to design processes and the existence of a differing worldview from the prevailing paradigm. Clearly stating some simple culturally-grounded concepts of the environment community place within it, and sense-of-place, the Te Aranga Principles are a platform for understanding New Zealand identity, which can generate a sense of positive belonging
Ngā Aho also believes the proposed Fletcher’s project runs counter to values embedded in Te Kawenata o Rata (Kawenata) agreement between Nga Aho and the New Zealand Institute of Architects. These include protecting and promoting Maori knowledge and tikanga in the field of architecture, and recognising mana whenua authority and responsibility for Maori dimensions of knowledge and the environment.

Ngā Aho promotes the development of policy and structural industry approaches leading to the regenerative presence of Māori culture in the designed landscapes of Aotearoa. The mamae of whānau at Ihumātao runs deep, and we support a culturally appropriate approach to landscape development rooted in ethical design and meaningful engagement.


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