On January 5, 1977, a small group of Maori pitched tents on top of a hill. It was the first day of what would become the 506-day occupation of Bastion Point.
Their message was simple: Bastion Point is Maori land.
Under the leadership of brothers Joe and Grant Hawke and Jack and Roger Rameka, Ngati Whatua o Orakei set about to stop Auckland’s Bastion Point (Takaparawhau) from being used for a housing subdivision.
Forty years later, arguments over the proposed Ihumatao development in south Auckland – where 80 hectares of historic Maori land are set to be used for 450 new homes – beg the question: did enough people take notice of what happened at Bastion Point?
In 1840, Ngati Whatua chief Apihai Te Kawau signed the Treaty of Waitangi and gifted 3000 acres of land to the Crown to establish Auckland city.
Barely after the ink had dried, Ngati Whatua were virtually landless, left only with a quarter of an acre of land, for an urupa (cemetery).
So when plans for a high-end housing subdivision at Bastion Point were unveiled by former prime minister Robert Muldoon in the late 70s, the people of Ngati Whatua sat peacefully in protest to protect what little of their land remained.