Bastion Point occupation leader Joe Hawke dies, aged 82

Source: 1News

Respected Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei kaumātua who led the Takaparawhau occupation at Auckland’s Bastion Point in the 1970s has died, aged 82.

Joe Hawke in 2016.

In 1976, Hawke formed the Ōrākei Māori Action Committee that took action to stop the subdivision of land on the Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) waterfront.

Ngāti Whātua maintained the land had been unjustly taken from them by the crown. There were plans to subdivide it for a private housing development, leaving the iwi with less than a hectare.

READ MORE: Day of reflection for protestors and police on 40th anniversary of Bastion Point arrests - 'It was kind of scary but we knew we were right'

In April 1977, a disused warehouse was re-erected on the site as Arohanui Marae, but facilities were rudimentary and in winter the exposed land was a bleak place to live.

In February 1978, the government offered to return some land and houses to Ngāti Whātua if the iwi paid $200,000 in development costs.

The Ngāti Whātua of Ōrākei refused the offer - in response, 506 days after the start of the occupation, police forcibly removed the occupiers, demolishing buildings and arresting 222.

Almost a decade later, when the jurisdiction of the Waitangi Tribunal was widened to cover retrospective issues, the Ōrākei claim was the first historical claim to be heard.

The Tribunal’s 1987 report recommended the return of land to Ngāti Whātua, and the next year the government agreed.

In an interview with 1News, Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said his actions forever changed Aotearoa.

"I believe that Joe made an impact nationwide," Jackson said.

"Almost worldwide really, because he stood up and he was the leader of one of the most famous occupations in the history of Aotearoa of New Zealand."

Jackson described Hawke as a "great leader" that served as a role model for many, including himself.

"We looked up to him because there was a calmness about Joe Hawke that was inspiring."

"He led a hugely peaceful protest... he wasn't some wild radical protestor he was a man who looked at things calmly.. it didn't matter what Rob Muldoon was saying about him or protestors at the time, Joe always kept his composure.

"Ngāti Whātua can thank Joe for leading his people and being a great example, and inspiration, not just for Maori, but for this country.

Joe Hawke in the 1970s.

"One of the true heroes in terms of Aotearoa New Zealand."

Jackson said the return of Takaparawhā to Ngāti Whātua was a turning point in the struggle for Māori land rights.

"You saw the Moutoa Gardens, you saw foreshore and seabed, you saw what happened with Raglan and there were so many things which followed after Ōrākei."

In 1996, Hawke was elected as a member of Parliament for Labour, serving two terms. In 2008, Hawke received the Insignia of a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.