Te Waka Huia sets Ihumātao Road Block Gala underway

By Jessica Tyson
Te Waka Hui perform at the Ihumātao Road Block Gala.  Photo/File.

The Ihumātao Road Block Gala is underway, with haka group Te Waka Huia amongst the first to entertain whānau gathered to support the kaupapa.

The "Road Block" title of the gala takes its name from the group's opposition to a new road being connected to the proposed housing site at Ihumātao.  

"Construction of the new road right behind our Māori Wardens office is complete and we are now being pressured to move off Oruarangi Road so they can break through to connect the road to the proposed housing site. We have told them we WILL NOT BE MOVED. As a whaanau, we are calling all whenua protectors to bring back the energy to the whenua and show the Government, Auckland Council and Fletcher Building Ltd that we are resolute in our stance until they return the land," a post on the Ihumātao Road Block Gala group's Facebook page says.

Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) spokesperson Pania Newton said during a speech today, "It's been 110 days but we know we've been doing this for 170 years so we will continue to go and we will remain until a peaceful resolution is found." 

SOUL member Qiane Matata-Sipu says, "Its a reminder to the motu and to the government that we're still here. We're still here to protect our whenua at Ihumātao that we're not going away.

"it's also an opportunity for our whānau for our community for those who have been supporting this kaupapa for the last five years to come back and reconnect with the whenua...Also today we were able to work with Fletchers to actually have Ihumātao Quarry Road opened so that people can go down and access Ōtuataua Stonefields. So today's message is also about us reconnecting with that tupuna whenua that we've been disconnected from."

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A māmā who brought her whānau along to the event today said the kaupapa is a really important cause and she wanted to teach her daughter about it.

"I want her to be aware of the issues that occur her and I think it's relatable to a lot of Māori people as well. So it's just a great opportunity to come together and obviously partake in the wonderful food here as well."

The event which began at 10am today, includes kai stalls, bands, singers, poets, kapa haka, a children’s play area, and a hauora space. 

Te Waka Huia performed several items for the excited crowd, which many described as "ātaahua". 

Following Te Waka Huia's performance, SOUL spokesperson Pania Newton said, "We can't thank Te Waka Huia enough for coming to Ihumātao, for coming to our whenua taurikura to support our kaupapa today."