Ihumatāo Land Protection

As a teenager I belonged to a cycle racing club. We raced around the farmland on Mangere Central, up by the Villa Maria vineyards on Ascot Ave, through the Ihumatāo village and around to the old church on George Bolt Drive.

Cycling past the oxidation ponds and Puketutu Island through the farming community it was always the settlement that I remembered.

It was clearly a very poor community and I never knew why. I mean we were poor, but this was expert level.

Now, due to the occupation of the stolen land, I know why.

I was up in Auckland today and had the morning free so Noeleen took me out to Ihumatāo. We stopped first at Mangere Pak n Save to grab a koha of kai for the people and when we got their asked the police to help us transport it up through the road closure.

We had a good couple of hours walking around talking to people and took some photos to share.

I stopped a group on racing bikes and told them of my days racing these same streets and was happy to learn my old ‘track’ is still used for competitive time trials.

The scenery has changed some the early 70s. There’s a lot more industry out there. The landscape is still very much as it was though, the gentle climbs up the hill to the road giving a view of the island and the shoreline. The village remains almost unchanged.

When you see this stuff on the news the view is of conflict and confrontation.

But it’s not like that at all.

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The police we spoke to were cheerful and helpful, they weren’t sure why they were there and they would much rather be chasing criminals.

We got both sides of the story from the people, and there are always two sides.

But they are in it together, is how I would put it.

I was able to talk to a woman who knew my old Railways apprentice friend William Robert’s. She was his neighbor and went to school with him at Mangere Central on the Education Department bus. She told me William had passed away recently.

We walked up to the old homesteads and back again, a walk of a lot of memories, of the days where I had not much more to worry about than getting to the halfway point, turning around and trying to beat last weeks time.

All around the world we see scenes of conflict over land issues. Of sovereignty.

If we turn on talkback radio we here absolute rubbish from idiots like Sean Plunket telling us Ihumatāo is about revolutionaries trying to overthrow the system and trying bring down capitalism.

And idiots will buy this line of utter shit.

But today, across the spectrum of diverse views, we saw respect, aroha, and dignity.

We were welcomed and fed. There were old people, young people, children, dogs, families, individuals… all together just being there.

No dramas.

I’d encourage anyone, everyone, when you have some free time, to take yourselves out there. Take some food to share, take your kids to see it so they don’t grow up thinking g Maori land issues are from forever ago.

Remember Bastion Point.

Remember Ruatoki.

Remember Ihumatāo.

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