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Protect Ihumātao Research Project awarded Royal Society Marsden Standard Grant

The Royal Society has awarded a Marsden Standard Grant to a hapū led research project which will examine Crown reluctance to address Māori-Tiriti interests in privately-owned land.

The Matike Mai Te Hiaroa: #ProtectIhumātao project mandated by Makaurau Marae hapū Te Ahiwaru will explore the Ihumātao protests in 2019 to stop the commercial development of unjustly confiscated ancestral whenua.

Unitec’s Ngā Wai a Te Tūī Director, Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan (Ngāti Mahuta, Te Ahiwaru), will co-lead the research project awarded $838,000 with Dr Frances Hancock from The University of Auckland and Pūkenga Matua Carwyn Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu) of Te Wānanga o Raukawa.

Makaurau Marae whānau, Pania Newton, Moana Waa and Qiane Mata-Sipu, also founding members of the SOUL campaign, who were integral to raising awareness and leading efforts to prevent commercial development, will also play a integral part in this project.

This research will explore potential pathways to resolve the injustice of confiscated Māori land outside the scope of Crown Tiriti settlement policy through an indepth study of what happened at Ihumātao. 

Ihumātao became an internationally significant site of Indigenous-led protest when police attempted to evict whānau trying to protect the whenua. Thousands of supporters flocked to the land and media coverage of the events led to global publication of what unfolded there.

The Crown eventually intervened by purchasing the whenua in 2020 and a process to determine its future is still underway.  

Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan says “This is an exciting project that ensures our marae whānau who led in the active protection the whenua,  are also central to identifying methods of resolution that maintain the mana of tangata whenua.”

Dr Frances Hancock says “This project will increase national and international understanding of what happened at Ihumātao and inform insightful and rigorous theoretical explanations of its broader, multi-layered, socio-political, cultural, heritage, legal and constitutional implications,”

Co-Primary Investigator Carwyn Jones says “Ihumātao raises profound questions about who we are as a nation, what we value, and the constitutional frameworks, relationships and collaborations needed to support Māori aspirations for mana motuhake, within and beyond existing Tiriti arrangements.” 


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