• August 23, 2019
The hīkoi closes in on Mt Albert. Photo: Sarah Musuku
More than 600 protestors marched to Jacinda Arden’s electorate office in Mt Albert today to invite her to take action in the protection of Ihumātao.
Activists persevered through thunderstorms to deliver a petition signed by 26,633 people inviting the Prime Minister to visit the land where the battle for Ihumātao has been going on for over three years.
Ms Arden was not present to receive the invitation, which protestors had expected.
"With politicians, it all depends on what gives them more or less votes. But if she’s really the compassionate person that she appeared to the world as, after Christchurch, she would come,” said protestor Te Karuoterangi Tuteao.
“To show up would’ve been great but we’ve got to see what happens and how she reacts to this."
Numbers grew and skies began to clear as the group walked over 18km to arrive at her office at 2.30pm.
Student activist Imogen Little, who has been involved in the protection of Ihumātao since 2017, says she believes today is part of history being made.
“There is a new generation of Māori that aren’t going to let their rights just be taken from them. They know they have rights and are standing up and fighting for it. It’s awesome to get to see this and be a witness to it,” she said.
Ms Little also believed that along with everyone, Ms Ardern has a responsibility to show up in this struggle for Ihumātao.
“These are the after-effects of colonisation and as a nation we’re all responsible for that. None of us can absolve ourselves, so as Prime Minister, she surely can’t,” Miss Little said.
“Obviously the Government is the one that can step in and fix this,” she said.
The Prime Minister's response to today’s six-hour hīkoi is highly anticipated across the nation.
“We’ve obviously shown how dedicated we are to have her start interacting with the problem, which we see as at least partly the state’s fault,” Mr Tuteao said.
“Whether or not she takes any action is yet to be seen but hopefully she starts acting like there is a problem.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.