Ihumātao: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern slow on intervention - leading Māori figure Matthew Tukaki

A leading Māori figure says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's intervention in the Ihumātao demonstrations was "slow" and he wants police to leave the site.

Demonstrations have been underway at the Ihumātao site in Auckland's Māngere this week, with hundreds of protesters flocking to the site and demanding the cancellation of a housing development.

The 480-house development is planned for the area but protesters say the land, which is one of the country's earliest settlements, should be protected.

Ardern spent most of the week not wanting to get involved, but on Friday said things had escalated and announced a meeting between the parties, including Auckland Council, developer Fletchers and the Government, had taken place on Friday.

The outcome of the meeting was a temporary halt to any building activity until a solution was reached.

Ardern said the views of the young people protesting on the land who feel a strong connection to the land were considered, as well as the mana whenua who want to see their people housed on ancestral land.

Matthew Tukaki, executive director of the New Zealand Māori Council, said on Saturday that the Prime Minister had made a difference - but not quick enough.

"It is a good first step, but it is also a slow step," he told Newshub.

"She does represent the Crown when it comes to these matters… Let's use this as an opportunity to set up a new focus for the state of Māori affairs and Crown affairs when it comes to the Treaty of Waitangi."

Tukaki wants something more resolute put into place, but in the meantime is calling for police to leave protesters alone. 

"What we need to do is ask the police to kindly leave. We have the Māori wardens here on site. Whānau are cooperating and everything is calm and peaceful.

"What has happened with the police coming in is we have dialled up that tension just a little bit. I understand they are here to enforce a court order but we are also pitting people and whānau against whānau when it comes to this matter."

He said police don't always need to get involved.

"Māori can sort out their own problems. What we don't need is always the intervention of uniformed police officers representing essentially the Crown to somehow keep us safe and secure, but arrest us if things get a little bit hoha."

Ministers Willie Jackson and Peeni Henare attended the site on Saturday, with Henare saying he's primarily there to listen.

"The number one job is to hear those of our whānau and those who have made their way to Ihumātao to make sure that they are part of the dialogue too," he said.

"This isn't one-sided and fair right across all parties concerned."