A report about a hikoi/march in opposition to the construction of a marina in Tamaki Makarau/Auckland in Aotearoa/New Zealand
On the early sunny morning of the 19th of January 2022, around 150 Auckland residents gathered at
Queen’s Wharf in the Auckland CBD for a hikoi/march to the High Court in support of halting the development of a large marina at Kennedy Point, Pūtiki Bay. It was also in support of the 32 Waiheke residents who were
served with a trespassing injunction for the marina’s construction site on Kennedy Point— their own
ancestral moana/sea and whakapapa/geneology, back in November. The first hearing of the injunction issued by Kennedy Point Marina, the developers of the marina, was held that afternoon.
Kennedy Point Marina had issued the injunction via the High Court back in November 2021 without notice
to the protesters or addressment with Iwi/tribe. The protester’s heinous crime; the act of peacefully
demonstrating against the ongoing degradation of Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf’s marine health as a
whole, the stripping of whakapapa from Ngāti Pāoa and hapū/sub-tribe, and the malicious and illegal
noncompliance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi from the developers and Auckland Council since 2017. The approval under the Resource Management Act for the construction of the marina was done without the unanimous consent of all iwi-group boards involved, with Auckland council approving the marina without the correct consultation with all of Ngāti Pāoa representative boards to the crown, an illegal act in accordance with Te Tiriti.
The marina, an 8 hectare floating monstrosity that will berth 186 yachts, is being placed right in the
middle of a clean (-ish, for now) swimming and kayaking spot in Pūtiki Bay, and will forever harmoniously
contribute to the ongoing pollution that seeps from all the other 18 marinas in the Hauraki Gulf. The bay is
also notably a habitat for kororā, little blue penguins, who’s population in New Zealand has been in rapid
decline (70% decline since 1960s) due to such development’s pollution, climate change, and depletion of
the surrounding ecosystem. Although kororā are not yet endangered, they have an ‘at risk’ status by
conservation groups. According to the ‘State of our Gulf’ reports (Auckland Council’s very own 3-year
environmental gulf report), it is developments like this that heavily contribute to this degradation of such
“Ports and marinas: Our commercial footprint is growing: adding visual clutter, affecting the seafloor,
changing marine communities, and providing a foothold for pests.”
– 2020 State of our Gulf Report
The reports are a hallowing reminder that the institutions that are expected to maintain and hold those
who do harm to the environment and aquaculture in contempt, are clearly either completely inept or
actively colluding with the destruction of marine life for commercial gain. Simple figures from graphs
from the 2020 report reveal the extent of damage to the fauna and biology of the gulf;
Despite the nature of the march, the crowd, made up of families, climate activists, rangatahi/young people, students, and local residents alike, were still in high spirits as they marched up from Queens Wharf through the city.
Signs such as “#ProtectPūtiki”, “Uphold the Rahui”, and “Protect our Kororā” were supplemented with loud
chants and waiata/songs. Some signs reminded those of the physical and harmful reality of the developers’
actions; a “Hands off our wahine[women]” sign resonated with stories from November in Pūtiki when one of the 32 protesters were charged with endangerment because the developers rammed her kayak with their boat
while she was protesting with her daughter— that the police restrained and physically removed kaitiaki
from their ancestral moana — and that the developers prioritised their profits over following Te Tiriti.
Once reaching the entrance to the High Court the protesters settled for korero/talks. Whaea Kathryn, a lifelong
Waiheke resident, summed up the historical importance and sacredness the bay signifies as well as the
ecological influence the bay has on the gulf that surrounds Tāmaki Makaurau itself;
“What is sacred? Is it sacred that eight-hundred years ago Te Awara waka [tribal canoe] came through the headlands of Pūtiki, that people from that waka then went south to the Bay of Plenty, but then some of them came back and they settled that bay? […] What do we have in this country that are our historical taonga — that are our sacred taonga[treasure]? I think we have little more than places like that — places where huge battles were fought, and that happened at Pūtiki as well. Places that have been continually occupied. Places where Pah [fortified village] sites surrounded everything. Places where archeological sites are all around the bay. Places where burial sites are all around the bay. Now Auckland council doesn’t consider that a sacred site, but if they don’t for Maori people, what do they consider sacred? What is sacred for us? […] When we say ‘honour the Treaty’, partially, that is what we are talking about.”
She continues on to describe the ecological importance of this shared space;
“[…] They could live there in that beautiful bay in which I was born—which I was fed from, which I spent my
whole life practically looking over—[because] there are all of these habitats. We’ve got deep muddy bits,
we’ve got the sea-grass meadows, we’ve got the mangrove swamps, we’ve got the shelly beaches, we’ve got
the rocky beaches, we’ve got deep water — tidal water. And we’ve got a whole heap of birds and fish, the fish
that I was fed from, the cockles, the oysters, the mussels that I was fed from — all of those things grow in
that bay and those people came here because it was such an ecological wonderland for them. All of these
streams come into the bay, it’s got basically the biggest watershed on the whole island.”
The singing of waiata as the hikoi made its way through Queen Street, up towards the High Court, felt like
deja vu in relation to so many other public spaces being land-grabbed by private enterprise in this country.
These controversies are not in isolation, but part of the insatiable desire of the wealthy class of New
Zealand for ownership and therefore profit of anything and everything, no matter the consequences.
These escapades for profit, with institutional law as its legitimising tool, do not even stop at the commons
— the air, the water, the habitable earth that is to be shared for all. These smaller community battles such
as #ProtectPūtiki and #ProtectIhumātao are pieces of a wider and continuous reminder of the capitalist
systems and its colonial roots that play their part in upholding the ideology that common spaces which
make up who we are and directly contribute to the health of society as a whole, are free to be
commercialised for the benefit of capital and profit, for those who already have so much of it. Everything
is for sale and is an opportunity to reap capital— even if that sale is of something that does not belong to
you and only benefits the few at the top while taking away the bare necessities for everyone else in their
own backyard. The crossover concepts of the collective ownership of the commons within Anarchist
manifest and mātauranga/education Māori are apparent here as much as they ever could be in Aotearoa.