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YOUNG NICK'S HEAD: Tent Embassy Established at Parliament


Around noon on Monday 5 August a group of about 200 protestors arrived at parliament grounds, Wellington. Many of them had been on the hikoi (march) from Young Nick's Head, Gisborne, which left 11 days earlier. Most of the hikoi participants were from the Ngai Tamanuhiri iwi, who were dispossessed of the land around Young Nick's Head in the 19th century.

The protest group asked to see finance minister Michael Cullen, who is to decide on Friday 9 August whether to allow the sale of Young Nick's Head to the US millionaire John Griffen. Mr Cullen was not available, nor the prime minister Helen Clark. The Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt, told the protestors they could not stay on the grounds overnight, and were not to erect any tent or other structure. (The precedent was the tent embassy in parliament grounds after the Hikoi of Hope in 1999, which maintained a presence for four months before being broken up with arrests).

After several hours in biting southerly wind, the protestors were allowed into parliament for a hui in the Maori Affairs Select Committee room. Here a discussion was held, with media exclusion, on further planned protest actions.

About ten protestors stayed overnight on Tuesday, in defiance of the Speaker's warning the day before. At about 10 am on Wednesday morning protestors met with Mr Cullen to ask him to halt the sale of the historic land and put forward an offer to buy the land on behalf of the New Zealand people.

A tent embassy has been established on parliament grounds, and will remain at least until Friday.

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Update: The government say they have gifted the cliff, pa site and peak of Young Nicks Head to people of Aotearoa. In a press release on Friday Finance Minister Dr Cullen also stated a trust will established to protect the cultural and historic values of the land. The iwi however have not been told the full details of the agreement, and are meeting on Sunday to discuss the sale further.

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