Māori king invites Ihumātao mana whenua to meeting, won't include Government

The Māori King visited protesters occupying Ihumātao on Saturday and formally invited the mana whenua to a meeting in the hope of reaching a solution. 

The discussion will follow tikanga protocol and won't include the Government or Fletchers.  

Māori King Kiingi Tūheitia arrived at Ihumātao on the twelfth day of protest surrounded by hundreds of supporters.

The King's flag was raised during the welcome. Both the protest organisers and the Kingitanga were holding firm on what the day was about - unity.  

"Their visit was about peace and aroha and what they made clear was that they were coming to listen," said protest organiser Pania Newton.

The King's spokesman Rahui Papa said it was all about coming together.

"This is about the Kingitanga in all of its entirety coming together with the people who whakapapa to the whenua to find a resolution," he said.

The Kingitanga has previously stated support for the Fletchers development.

But on Saturday they formally invited the protesters and all mana whenua to a meeting to find a resolution. 

"Without a doubt, we are open and willing to sit down with the Kingitanga," said Newton.

But protesters - who have been camping for days in rain and wind - had mixed feelings about what the King's visit meant. 

"For the King to be here and listening and trying to find a solution for what's going on here is really important," said one.

"The people here are more, they say a lot more, than the kingitanga because if the kingitanga was really good, he would of been amongst the people," said another.

Protest organisers say when the meeting happens their bottom line won't change. 

The King's flag will fly at Ihumātao until a resolution is found. Just how long that will take is still unknown.