The occupation of Shelly Bay in Wellington is officially over after 525 days

An occupation at Shelly Bay in Wellington has come to an end 525 days after it began as an individual sentinel, but the fight to stop development at the site is far from over.

The Mau Whenua protest group packed up and left on Sunday afternoon, a week after signaling their intention to do so.

The occupation began in November 2020 when Wellington iwi Taranaki Whānui sold his land on the Mirimar Peninsula to developer Ian Cassels for a planned $500 million project, upsetting some in the iwi. Mau Whenua is largely made up of members of Taranaki Whānui.

Mau Whenua protesters leave the Shelly Bay site at sunset on Day 525.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

Mau Whenua protesters leave the Shelly Bay site at sunset on Day 525.

“We continue to protest the invalid sale and undesirable development of Shelly Bay, including through our legal actions. However, we will do so in the most efficient way possible, which may look different,” Occupation leader Dr Catherine Love said on Sunday.

READ MORE:
* Wellington’s Shelly Bay stalemate ends, but next steps still unclear
* Wellington’s Shelly Bay dispute could be reignited after Port Nicholson vote of confidence
* The critical moment arrives for the occupants of Shelly Bay

Dr Catherine Love, chief of Mau Whenua, in what remains of the Shelly Bay occupation.

Monique Ford / Stuff

Dr Catherine Love, leader of Mau Whenua, in what remains of the Shelly Bay occupation.

A small fight broke out when what are believed to be occupants of Māhanga Bay showed up in an attempt to disrupt the ceremonial departure. They marched in front of the occupation site beating drums during the solemn ceremony.

Tensions between Mau Whenua and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST), which manages the Treaty of Waitangi settlement for Taranaki Whānui, have eased in recent weeks.

The occupation began in November 2020 when Wellington iwi Taranaki Whānui sold his land on the Mirimar Peninsula to developer Ian Cassels for a planned $500 million project, upsetting some in the iwi.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

The occupation began in November 2020 when Wellington iwi Taranaki Whānui sold his land on the Mirimar Peninsula to developer Ian Cassels for a planned $500 million project, upsetting some in the iwi.

Trust chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice – one of those credited with restoring relations – said ending the occupation was a positive move and meant they could “grow together as that iwi”. He supported Mau Whenua’s rights to challenge trust decisions, even through legal action.

Mau Whenua is suing the Maori Land Court to have the sale annulled. The core of his argument being that 75% of iwi members should vote for (51% did) and that vote was wrong because, as an independent review by Sir Wira Gardiner shows, thousands of people n were unable to register to vote.

The occupation of Shelly Bay in Wellington is now complete (file photo).

KEVIN STENT / Stuff

The occupation of Shelly Bay in Wellington is now complete (file photo).

This is the latest twist in a long, heated and contentious battle, after PNBST purchased four parcels of land using the lion’s share of its treaty settlement payment. It ran into trouble early on when a project to build a film museum with filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson fell through and Cassels stepped in.

The initial vote on whether Taranaki Whānui should sell his land to Cassels fell through after falling short of a 75% approval requirement – ​​necessary for major PNBST transactions – but the council sold the land into four separate lots, arguing that they were no longer major transactions. no need to vote.

This left Cassels with the majority of the land he needed, but not the sections of the waterfront owned by Wellington City Council. The council in November 2020 voted 9 to 6 to sell and lease its 0.9 hectares to an “entity selected by” PNBST and Cassels’ The Wellington Company.

Catherine Love with her mokopuna, Mya Love, then 8, and Ava Riwaka, then 4, at the southern end of Marukaikuru, Shelly Bay in 2020.

KEVIN STENT / Stuff

Catherine Love with her mokopuna, Mya Love, then 8, and Ava Riwaka, then 4, at the southern end of Marukaikuru, Shelly Bay in 2020.

That entity ended up being Shelly Bay Taikuru – a company owned and run by Cassels and his partner Patricia Caitlin Taylor. Council spokeswoman Victoria Barton-Chapple confirmed on Sunday that there were still details to be ironed out before the deal could be completed.

Mau Whenua member Anaru Mepham began what would become the occupation of Shelly Bay the day after the council voted.

The occupier of Shelly Bay, Stafford Tawhai, who was at the occupation when it started and ended, with two flags which also lasted 525 days.

Monique Ford / Stuff

The occupier of Shelly Bay, Stafford Tawhai, who was at the occupation when it started and ended, with two flags which also lasted 525 days.

The occupation is increasingly fierce, with legal battles, councilors threatened and development engineers turned away from the site.

But in the first months of 2022 tensions began to ease with groups on both sides – Mau Whenua and the Trust – agreeing that the fight for Shelly Bay had distracted from the 100-year vision of the ‘iwi, which consisted of holding the whenua. for future generations.

Anaru Mepham of the Mau Whenua group began the occupation in 2019. It would last 525 days and grow in scale.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Anaru Mepham of the Mau Whenua group began the occupation in 2019. It would last 525 days and grow in scale.

Shelly Bay: A Timeline

1839: Acquisition of the Port Nicholson block by the New Zealand Company.

1885: Shelly Bay served as the site for an anti-submarine mining base due to fears that New Zealand, then a British colony, was under attack by the Russian Navy.

1946: Transferred to New Zealand Air Force and renamed Shelly Bay Air Force Base. Used to accommodate the catering unit and up to 300 Wellington employees.

1995: Closed as an Air Force base and put up for sale. Process since delayed by disputes over ownership of reclaimed land and a possible Treaty of Waitangi claim.

Sir Peter Jackson was there to support Andy Foster when he launched his 2019 mayoral bid in Shelly Bay.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Sir Peter Jackson was there to support Andy Foster when he launched his 2019 mayoral bid in Shelly Bay.

2003: The Waitangi tribunal ruled that six tribes should be compensated.

2008: Naval Museum sabotaged; Sir Peter Jackson proposes a cinema museum.

2009: Purchase of land for $16 million permitted by treaty settlement; proposed billion dollar casino.

2012: Jackson’s film museum idea was rejected.

2014 : The Wellington Company signs a five-year lease, with the idea of ​​turning the area into a local “Sausalito”.

2015 : Shelly Bay has been approved as a Special Housing Zone.

2017: Authorization granted for the development of Shelly Bay. The council agrees to sell and rent its land on the site.

2018: The end of a Shelly Bay legal challenge, the Court of Appeal rules council misapplied the law and the proposal must be reconsidered.

2019: Development opponent Andy Foster launches his campaign for mayor of Wellington in Shelly Bay, backed by filmmaker and opponent Sir Peter Jackson. Foster wins against development supporter Justin Lester.

2020: The passage of time and changing circumstances put the decision to a second vote on whether to sell and lease municipal land there. It goes 9-6 after three advisers, previously in opposition, turned to development support. The occupation begins the next day.

2021: Shelly Bay Ltd, owned by Taranaki Whānui, sends occupants a notice to vacate the whenua within one week. It is effectively ignored.

March 2022: The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust and Mau Whenua agree to discuss the future of the site.

May 1, 2022: The occupation ends, but Mau Whenua agrees to continue the legal battles.

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