Visit to Ihumātao 'could detract from the process' of finding a solution, Ardern says

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she won't be visiting the Ihumātao site despite calls from protestors and a petition launched yesterday, saying it "could detract from the process" of finding a solution.

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The Prime Minister declined a visit after protestors yesterday launched a petition to get her to the site. Source: Breakfast

A petition was launched calling on the Prime Minister to visit the South Auckland Ihumātao site that's sacred to Māori, which hundreds of people have been occupying to oppose a new Fletchers housing development.

The leader of protest group SOUL, Pania Newton, said she wanted Ms Ardern to understand why the land meant so much to the people occupying it.

"During the reclamation, we have reached out to Jacinda Ardern many times, asking her to visit the whenua and meet with us face-to-face but she still hasn't replied," she told RNZ.

But, speaking from the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu overnight, Ms Ardern told media she would not visit at this time.

"It could detract from the process that we're trying to make sure is happening at the moment which is all parties around the table, trying to nut out that solution," she said.

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Jacinda Ardern made the announcement tonight after days of protests at the South Auckland site. Source: 1 NEWS

"I don't want to detract from that, you know. Absolutely open to visiting in the future but for now let's actually get this sorted and that means talking around the table."

Ms Ardern said she would've thought talks around the table would also be the priority of those engaged in the debate at the site as well.

"That's where all our energy is at the moment but I absolutely wouldn't rule out visiting in the future, but for now I don't want to detract from what should be a focus on being around the table and finding that solution ultimately for the land."

In a video posted to social media, Ms Newton said if the Prime Minister didn't take up the invitation protestors would march to her parliamentary office.

But Ms Ardern said, "For me it's about keeping an eye on what ultimately everyone is seeking which is a resolution. Look I hear the calls for a visit, but I keep in mind that actually a visit wouldn't find that solution."