Ihumatao (N-Z): Rock walls prove 'historic Maori farming' practices

Source - http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/latest-edition/latest-news/87365525/Report-rock-walls-prove-historic-Maori-farming-practices

16812928Drone stills of the Stonefields area at Ihumatao - CHRIS MCKEEN

A group campaigning against a Special Housing Area at Ihumatao, Mangere is disputing an draft archaeological report produced by the developers. 

The recent shell midden discovery at the proposed site has led to a review of the land in south Auckland.

16812934The shell midden discovered under a tree at Ihumatao

Led by senior Auckland archaeologist Ian Lawlor, new findings reveal that the stone wall structures were created by Maori prior to European settlement in the area.

The campaign group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) claims Fletcher Building has failed to provide accurate reports.

According to SOUL, Fletcher Building have assumed the walls on the south section of the property were erected during European settlement.

However, Lawlor's reports suggest that the stone walls "most likely date between 1846 and 1863, and they represent historic remnants of historic Maori farming activities".

Fletcher Residential general manager, Ken Lotu-Iiga says it is not uncommon for archaeologists and other professionals to have differing opinions about significant features of a landscape.

"When we received Ian Lawlor's report we asked our archaeologist to review it and respond. We are now working through both documents, including iwi and mana whenua over the land in these discussions," he says.

The company has set aside 25 per cent of the private land already zoned for housing to be a protective buffer zones against the existing Otuataua Stonefields Reserve.

"We also have comprehensive protocols in place for the discovery and protection of anything found on site including having an archaeologist on site. We are doing all we can to protect this significant place."

SOUL spokesperson Pania Newton says she wants to know who are the people that Fletcher Building is consulting with. She wants to see some proof or list of names.

"They keep saying they're consulting with mana whenua and the iwi. I am mana whenua, and I'm not being consulted with," says Newton.

She wants the Auckland Council and the Crown to keep the promise made in 2007: "To have this land added on to Otuataua Stonefields Reserve".

Newton and a dozen others have been camping at the Ihumatao site for the last month. She says they will camp for as long as it takes.

"We drive our energy and motivation from this land."