The Ngati Whatua Orakei Settlement Bill passed its third reading today. As an Aucklander the occupation of Bastion Point, and Ngati Whatua’s 170 year struggle for justice has always meant a great deal to me. I felt really privileged to be able to contribute to the debate on behalf of Labour.
Ngati Whatua’s loss of land, and their extraordinary struggle to hold on to some of it, and then get some back, is a story every Aucklander should know. The 1987 Waitangi Tribunal report sets it all out, including how city authorities in 1911 built an 8 foot high pipe across the foreshore to discharge the city’s raw sewerge onto Ngati Whatua’s shellfish beds.
And the compulsory acquistion and forced clearance in 1951 of the village at Okahu Bay. Today’s kaumatua remember watching their houses being burned to the ground.
The turning point for Ngati Whatua, and arguably for race relations more broadly, was the 507 day occupation of Bastion Point led by Joe Hawke 1977-78 to stop the National Government of the day selling off the land for high income housing.
The eventual eviction of the protesters by police and army shocked the nation, including me.
To see the settlement finalised today, in light of that history, is quite something. Something that all New Zealanders can take pride in.
Hone Harawira’s speech in the debate was one to remember. He recalls the occupation of Bastion Point with great humour.