Ihumātao update: One year on, we still don't have a Steering Group, let alone housing
This month marks a year since the Government announced its $30 million purchase of land at Ihumātao. The decision to purchase the land was justified on the basis that it would result in the provision of housing on the site, with funding coming from the Land for Housing Programme.
However, the Taxpayers' Union can reveal that talks between the Government and Kīngitanga with regards to the use of the land have gone nowhere. In fact, there hasn't even been any agreement over who will form the Steering Committee that is meant to make decisions on the provision of housing.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and Kīngitanga outlined that a new Steering Committee overseeing the management of Ihumātao should include six members: three iwi representatives supported by Kīngitanga, one on behalf of Kīngitanga, two representing the Crown and one observer from Auckland Council. Only once appointments are made can the Committee determine what happens next.
In an official information request, the Taxpayers' Union asked for an update on the appointment status of the Steering Committee. Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson's response confirms the Committee remains unappointed, saying "The process for determining the representatives requires a considerable period of facilitation by the Kiingtanga, given the complex relationships and associations between the parties...The Kiingitanga appointment process creates pressure on the relationships between these groups, and it is important the Crown allows the process to take the time it needs to."
In other words, for all Grant Robertson's bluster about his 'unique and innovative' solution at Ihumātao, the Government has still failed to achieve consensus. Any agreement on the number, ownership, or management of homes, is being delayed indefinitely. Actual construction at this point remains a pipe dream.
The Government's intervention at Ihumātao has not facilitated new housing – it has done the opposite. Fletcher Building literally had earthworks machinery at Ihumātao's gates before the Government spent $30 million of taxpayer money to paralyse construction. Willie Jackson has blamed COVID-19 on stopping whānau from meeting to discuss Ihumātao. That's laughable when the Government is currently hosting APEC using video calls, and it raises the question of whether iwi even intend to follow through on their side of the deal and get homes built.
The Government opted not to put any clear timeframe for action in the Memorandum of Understanding, and has since clearly failed to impress any sense of urgency on iwi. In fact, Minister Jackson has not communicated with Kiingitanga on this matter since July."
Taxpayers deserve better. We forked out $30 million with the expectation of housing. Instead, all we've got is hui.