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A walk with our ancestors

One thousand years ago, Hape first landed at Te Puketāpapatanga a Hape in Ihumātao. This unique mountain can show geological evidence of the first Maori occupation.

On Thursday, the Year 11 Geography went on a trip to visit the Otuataua Stonefields which they have been studying for the past few weeks.

There is currently an ongoing land issue occurring at Otuataua Stonefields, where Fletchers Residential want to develop a 480 houses project called SHA62 on land which historically belonged to the Maori of the area (mana whenua).

While on the trip, the students met two influential figures who are part of the campaign opposing the development of SHA62. Saving Our Unique Landscapes (SOUL) first started in 2014 when cousins, who tied their whakaapa (genealogy) to Ihumātao, found out about the proposed site for SHA62. Pania Newton was one of these cousins who is the spokesperson for SOUL and has been heading most of the campaign.

Pania met with the students with Te Pureha, who is also part of SOUL, to teach the students about the history of the land, the actions which have taken place on their part and their political position at the moment. This information is to help students, with their knowledge from learning in class, to sit their internal assessment.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the day for the class, was when Pania took everyone out on a walk (hīkoi) around the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve where students were immersed in nature and Maori culture.

“It was so surreal to sit on top of the hill and look out at the view. It didn’t feel like you were in the heart of Auckland but rather you were on your own island to yourself as it was so peaceful,” remarks a student.

This trip was an eye opener for the students as they realised that land confiscation issues are still ongoing in New Zealand and we have to be more aware of what is going on around us so that we can be involved and help.

To find out more information about SOUL and Ihumātao visit

On this website, you will find the petition which you are able to sign to support SOUL. They need as many signatures as possible by Monday, March 11, when they will be presenting the petition to Parliament. They still require another 4,000 signatures.

Gemma Holt