Auckland Council reportedly in talks to buy Ihumātao land

The Ihumātao land dispute could be drawing to a close, with discussions underway for Auckland Council to step in.

RNZ reports the Crown is considering loaning money to the council so it can afford to purchase the land - owned by Fletcher Residential.

Fletcher is asking for $40 million for the land - more than double what it was bought for in 2014.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is reportedly leading talks around the resolution.

He told Newshub on Monday the Government is focused on "supporting a resolution that respects all parties including the Crown, mana whenua and Fletchers".

He says the Government is continuing to work on finding a solution.

"These matters are complex and are taking some time to work through," he said on Tuesday.

There is also an interim decision to increase the heritage status of the Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve to include the land owned by Fletchers, he told Newshub.

As well as extending the land, it would be changed from a category two historic place to a category one - the highest level of heritage recognition. 

This means the land would be classed as being of "special or outstanding historical or cultural significance," according to the heritage website. 

The report from RNZ has angered ACT leader David Seymour, who says it shows the Government "caving" to protesters.

"The message the Government will be sending is this 'if you break the law and illegally occupy other people's private property, we won't punish you, we'll help you," said Seymour in a statement.

"It is also deeply disappointing that, given Auckland's housing crisis, 480 affordable homes may now not be built," he continued.

Ihumātao is one of New Zealand's earliest settlements.

It was sold to Fletchers in 2014 and protests began shortly afterwards.

In 2016, a small number of community members started camping by the side of the road, reports RNZ.

But in July this year, public support skyrocketed after eviction notices were handed to the occupants.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for a halt in building progress in late July while the Government worked to find a solution.