Ihumātao dispute: Māori King's visit slammed

The Māori King's planned visit to the site of the Ihumātao land dispute is being described as inappropriate.

King Tūheitia is expected in south Auckland on Saturday morning along with 20 busloads of people from the Waikato.

"The purpose of the visit is to listen to the people and seek a pathway for resolution," he said on Friday.

But Te Kawerau a Maki senior member David Rankin says royalty and politics shouldn't mix.

"Would you see Queen Elizabeth rocking up to some protest?" he asked Newshub. "Royalty [should] keep right out of there. It's a political matter."

Hundreds of people continue to occupy the land, trying to stop a housing development by Fletcher which was signed off by one of the local iwi. Activists have been at Ihumātao for 12 days now.

Rankin says King Tūheitia's predecessors never got involved in politics.

"That's why his mother had such a great reputation and she was loved by all New Zealanders - because she kept her nose clean and out of the riff-raff and the nonsense of the iwi... He should just stay at Turangawaewae and keep right out of it... if he gets involved with politics, he dirties himself."

Protest leader Pania Newton told RNZ on Friday meetings with Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta had gone well. 

"We have been asking the government to meet with us for so long and now that has happened. And we feel like they are starting to listen to us. It is a step forward."

Hundreds remain at the site.