Top Shows

Frontier Of Dreams

Sundays 6.40am | TV ONE

Maori Protests

In 1975 there was a huge land march led by Northland elder, Whina Cooper. The march brought together Maori from many iwi.

It set off from Te Hapua in the far north in September and by the time it crossed the Auckland harbour bridge, numbers had grown to thousands. It arrived in Wellington on 13 October 1975.

Then new issues ignited more confrontation. Bastion Point was on the Auckland waterfront and within Prime Minister Robert Muldoon's Tamaki electorate. Originally the home of Auckland's Ngati Whatua tribe, the land had been acquired by the Crown through a series of compulsory and negotiated purchases.

Some land had been used for state housing and some for a reserve, including the memorial to Michael Joseph Savage. In 1951 there were evictions and the burning of houses at Okahu Bay. In 1977, after the government decided to dispose of 25 hectares of Bastion Point for housing, Joe Hawke led Maori onto the site and occupied it.

Despite a settlement that Muldoon thought generous, Hawke refused to budge. On 25 May 1978, 600 police, backed by the army, forcibly cleared off the occupiers and arrested 230.

The television images of this action came to symbolise the Muldoon government's position. In May 1981 contractors moved onto the site and it was again occupied. Muldoon's response was immediate and all the buildings and people were removed in one day.

Eventually much of the land at Bastion Point would be returned to or vested in Ngati Whatua.