Ihumātao escalates as Don Brash occupies portion of land set to be returned to iwi

Don Brash is staging a glamping protest at Ihumātao

Don Brash is staging a glamping protest at Ihumātao

The already tense situation at Ihumātao has escalated this afternoon after the dispute saw a third party enter the fray, in the form of former National Party leader and Hobson’s Pledge founder Don Brash.

Mana whenua and a growing number of protestors have been occupying land on and around the site for some time, opposing an iwi-approved Fletcher Building housing construction, set to begin work shortly on the historic site.

While Brash broadly supports the land development, he has taken issue with the fact Fletcher will return 25% of the land to iwi as part of the process.

It’s that quarter of the Ihumātao land that he now occupies in an enormous luxury campervan.

Brash drove onto the site at the sensible hour of 3pm this afternoon, awkwardly navigating his glamping behemoth through a farm gate, executing a relatively clean 31-point turn, and careening into a stump.

Shaken, he emerged from the capitalist flagship to declare his intentions.

“Hello everybody,” he said politely, deciding to linger on his bottom doorstep rather than chance the mud. “I’d just like to make an announcement. I understand that the Maori people over there are trying to stop us from cleaning up this dirty site with paved roads and orderly shrubberies, but I’d just like to make a point about this part here that even Fletcher’s is leaving to waste.”

He looked around in dismay at the muddy farmland, littered with animal waste and fungi the value of which he was ill-equipped to estimate.

“There’s a charm to this land, yes, I suppose, with its rugged texture and deep, berry undertones,” he confessed, with a line it later turned out he’d borrowed from a wine bottle. “But it would be a betrayal of our collective belief in the property rights of ordinary New Zealanders were we to let this company relinquish 25% of them.”

Brash says the plan to return “fairly purchased land” was “confiscation by virtue signalling,” and that it would put land in the hands of people who didn’t “work hard for it.”

“This land was rightfully come upon by my people, and fairly bought and sold with people’s hard working dollars, dollars they’d earned, to purchase land they deserve, and later sold to even harder working people who deserved it even more, and thus every hand through which this land has passed has made it more and more deserving.

“After decades of merit-based commerce we’d be undoing it all and stripping this place of all its deservedness if we were to just give it away.”

Brash said giving could be dangerous, and may set a precedent where people could just theoretically give anyone anything.

He said he would camp at the site until Fletcher Building agreed not to return 25% of the land to iwi, or until his next doctor’s appointment.

But as sun set on Dr. Brash’s protest, trouble already appeared to be brewing inside the four-bedroom luxury camping van.

Brash was seen numerous times awkwardly peering out his windows as he experienced a plumbing issue, and later smoke rose against reddened skies after a fire broke out when he tried to make a sandwich. Red-faced and choking, he gave a thumbs-up to cameras through the campervan’s windshield.

It’s not known how long Brash will hold out, but his actions this afternoon have forced the Government’s hand in attempting to broker a resolution.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this evening that the Government would work with all parties involved to find a way forward, and asked Brash to please stop trying to move his motor home.

“I understand that, yes, when he initially parked it up, he got himself into a quite awkward position,” she said. “So I understand he wants to reposition it, but I’ve been advised the more he tries to move it, he’s just digging this big hole and making a huge mess.”

Fire and rescue had been sent to assist Brash, and he has been issued with a trespassing notice for disregarding private property.