Protest supporters form a circle around Huhana Davis.

An occupation is underway at Kennedy Point to protest the construction of a marina in Pūtiki Bay.

“It’s an on-site, Ngāti Pāoa-led occupation, supported and sustained by Waiheke locals,” Ngāti Pāoa descendant Emily Māia Weiss told Gulf News.

“Four or five people are permanently sleeping here at the moment. We want to maintain a constant Ngāti Pāoa presence down here at all times to host manuhiri (visitors),” she says.

The Waiheke community has supported the occupation by contributing food, gazebos, icepacks, a zero waste system, solar showers, a caravan and even a boat.

“Everything that we are living with has been brought down by the community. They are thinking about us being fed, being warm.”

Ms Weiss says the occupation is Ngāti Pāoa asserting their kaitiakitanga and tino rangatiratanga at the site, supported by the community.

She says the people who have been visiting the site want to talk about it and want to be heard. 

“Each local that comes down has a different story as to why they oppose it [the marina]. Now they see that this occupation is being led, they want to get their stories out,” she says.

“It’s absolutely essential to us that Ngāti Pāoa and locals have the ability to shape what is happening to the island they either whakapapa to or are living on. This is not what they have envisioned for the island.”

The occupation will continue indefinitely, she says.

“Ngāti Pāoa is going to have to come home in order to fight for it, it’s not like Ihumatāo where the hapū has remained tied to the land since colonisation. Pāoa haven’t had a chance to develop a relationship with the island in their lifetime. I have that whakapapa connection and locals have the love for the island, and that’s what makes it [the occupation] strong and unique.”

Ms Weiss says Protect Kennedy Point is a peaceful occupation for all.

“We are respecting that locals have a precedence of protecting this environment and also of contesting the marina, because of that we can come here and feed into the network that they have laid. This whole bed of work has been done by the community.” •Erin Johnson

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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