The 1977 Bastion Point occupation: What happened?

Source: 1News

Following the death of Joseph Parata Hawke this week, 1News takes a look back at Takaparawhau/ Bastion Point - one of the biggest land occupations in Aotearoa's history, led by the Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei kaumātua.

In the late 1970s after the historic Māori land march led by Dame Whina Cooper, a 506-day protest against a proposed Crown land sale was held at Takaparawhau.

The whenua - a piece of land overlooking Auckland's Waitematā Harbour - originally belonged to Ngāti Whātua, but it was handed over to the Crown during the Russian scare of 1885 for defence purposes.

The Russians never came, and the Crown never returned the land.

Instead, in 1976 Prime Minister Robert Muldoon announced plans to sell the land to the highest bidder for luxury housing.

The Ōrākei Māori Action Committee, led by Hawke, took direct action to prevent the subdivision of Takaparawhau.

Occupation at Takaparawhau/Bastion Point

Hawke set up camp with his wife, kids and his dogs in 1977, inviting others to join their peaceful protest and starting one of the country's longest land occupations.

Many others arrived, building houses, growing crops and starting a community. They stayed for 506 days.

In a documentary filmed by TVNZ1 at the time, Hawke said the Government had claimed the land had been sold to the Crown, that wasn't the case.

"This land was not sold - it was confiscated under the Public Works Lands Act."

The occupation had the full support of other iwi leaders, including Dame Whina Cooper who founded Te Matakite o Aotearoa, the group behind the 1975 land march.

Hawke worked with Dame Whina Cooper as secretary of Te Matakite o Aotearoa.

"I think you can never win anything unless you are there to do something, to let the whole world know that you are really pining for the land of your ancestors," Dame Whina said while at Takaparawhau in the '70s.

On May 25, 1978, the Government sent 800 army and police personnel to evict the occupiers. Two hundred and twenty-two people were arrested and their temporary meeting house, buildings and gardens were demolished.

In 1987, Hawke took the Bastion Point claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, which found Ngāti Whātua's grievances were valid, ruling in their favour and returning their whenua.

It was the first historic claim to be heard. The peaceful movement at Takaparawhau became a catalyst for iwi throughout the country to follow suit.