It was all guns blazing as Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson fired back at National’s spokesperson for social housing, Tama Potaka, who last week called out the government for "all hui, no action" on its plan for housing on the once contested land at Ihumātao last week.
The 32ha block was the subject of protest by Māori for four years saying it should be returned to mana whenua, yet late 2020 saw the government buy the land from developer Fletcher Building for just under $30 million. Funding came from the Land for Housing programme, which works with iwi and developers to develop social housing but Potaka says not a single house has been built.
But Jackson responded today, saying: “I think Tama should go and tell the mana whenua, half of whom are his relations, how useless they all are.
“It’s got nothing to do with us now. I’m overseeing the process with mana whenua to work this out and they make their decisions,” he says.
“Tama would tell them to go and make decisions now and do what the National Party want done. Part of mana motuhake by Māori, for Māori is leaving Māori to work things out and Tama needs to learn that.”
Jackson also says mana whenua and everyone else involved have had tensions with each other over the entire process but it is for them to sort out what needs to be done first and not government to interfere.
Five years to work it out
“It’s not easy when people come together and some people want housing, some people don’t, others have been protestors and others have been developers. This is what our people have got in terms of experience but they have every right to be given time and space.”
Although the Kīngitanga was involved in brokering the end of the standoff, rumours have been heard about who sits on the rōpu whakahaere. While Potaka claims that $400,000 has been spent to organise a committee, Jackson fired back saying, “Would Tama Potaka not give any dollars to a rōpu whakahaere so they can come together?”
According to Jackson, it’s been nearly a year since July 2022 that the five-year timeframe began. “It was always agreed that they have five years to work this out.
“I’m not trying to be smart or anything but this is not easy when you have groups with different ideas.
“This is a tough job but what I say is that we should give our people time and respect to work this out.”