Date: 31 October 2018
Level 1 Social Studies students have been studying Ihumatao, a village located in Mangere as an example of an issue affecting the local community. This is yet another example of experiential learning that is so important to engage our students, who particularly enjoyed this unit of work as it was centred around their own community and the outcomes will impact on us all.
The issue is that, the government declared that the Orurangi Block, alongside the neighbouring Stonefields Historic Reserve, be given Special Housing Area status and a subsequent planning judgement gave Fletcher Living the right to begin building the first 120 homes in a proposed 480 house subdivision. This would see the new subdivision sit right alongside Ihumatao village and would destroy the evidence of historical settlement and all that it has to teach future generations.
Waiohua, are the tangata whenua, and have close ties to Tainui. They strongly oppose any development on their ancestral land.
Level 1 Social Studies students held a hui, in the Marae at which former student and Distinguished Alumni. Mr David Veart who is an archaeologist and historian and expert in the Ihumatao and surrounding areas, addressed students and staff. Mr Veart who attended OHS from 1964 to 1968, remembers spending his childhood fishing, collecting shellfish and playing in the waters of this area of Mangere. He explained that there is archeological evidence which shows that the land around the Ihumatao village was one of the first places that Maori settled when they arrived in Aotearoa. They arrived on Tainui and other waka and settled there because of the fertile land and proximity to the sea. They were expert gardeners growing crops of kumara, corn and potatoes in the 1800s well before Europeans arrived from 1840. By 1860 the Maori gardeners were prosperous, selling their produce to Pakeha and were even exporting grain and flour to Australia from their large wheat fields.
In 1863 Governor Grey insisted that Maori sign the Oath of Allegiance to England and the Queen and give up all arms, or they were forced to leave. Most Maori left. Their land was confiscated by the Crown in 1865.
Mr Veart was fascinating. He strongly believes that this land should be saved so that all people for generations to come, can see the evidence that still exists on the land that shows how the earliest settlers to Aotearoa lived. He supports SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscapes), the group formed to try to prevent the housing development on the land which is so important and precious to local Maori. The matter is currently before the courts, and awaiting a decision.
We would like to sincerely thank Mr Veart for his time, expertise and knowledge that he generously shared with us. He brought the history alive for students and enabled them to have a much better understanding of the current issues centred around Ihumatao.
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