In a 2009 speech, prominent Māori lawyer Moana Jackson said that the novel Once Were Warriors (Duff, 1990) could have been more appropriately named Once Were Gardeners (New Zealand Drug Foundation, 2009). By doing so he argued against the notion that Māori possess a “warrior gene” predisposing them to violence. Instead, Jackson maintained, Māori were more likely to have a predisposition for gardening. Gardening, or mahi māra, has been practised by Māori for centuries in Aotearoa New Zealand. Although motivations may have changed, mahi māra remains an important expression of what it means to be Māori. This affirmation is particularly relevant when it comes to the recent Māori occupation of Ihumātao, one of the oldest Māori settlements in Aotearoa. This article explores the idea that gardens and gardening demonstrate a form of Māori protest and resistance. It also examines the importance of māra at Ihumātao and its occupation to Kelly Marie Francis, known as “The Whenua Warrior”, a member of the group occupying Ihumātao, Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL). Understanding the occupation acknowledges the importance of māra in te ao Māori.