Jacinda Ardern has been warned to take note of the passion behind the hīkoi from Ihumātao.
Around 300 protesters marched through wind and rain yesterday to deliver a petition urging the Prime Minister to visit the south Auckland site.
AUT history professor Paul Moon says the hīkoi represents a growing feeling of unrest.
"I think the Prime Minister would have to take this very seriously, because there's a deep-rooted sense of grievance, and it's not going to go away quickly."
Dr Moon says whatever decision is made will set a precedent for years to come, but the hīkoi shows the protestors will not give up.
"This isn't a case that will simply fade away - on the contrary, as long as the two are at loggerheads. There needs to be a resolution or else the development can't go ahead, the protest is likely to continue and the situation becomes worse, as far as the Government is concerned."
Former Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson, who successfully negotiated 59 deals, on Thursday said Ardern had done the right thing in not getting involved. He suggested the protesters take their case to Tainui, who could easily afford to buy the land off Fletcher.
"All the iwi that have settled around this area have Tainui links. Kiingi Tuheitia's been there. I think it's a fantastic opportunity for Tainui to step up - they're very, very wealthy - and say, 'Right - we'll buy the land commercially. Nothing to do with the Crown at all.'"
Dr Moon suggested it won't be that simple.
"The Government hasn't got a clear way forward, council hasn't done much to get involved, protesters have a particular objective - but all of these things clash, and no one knows what the best answer is."
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- 'Racism' behind why Govt won't buy Ihumātao land - Māori Party
- 'Go home': Simon Bridges' message to Ihumātao protesters
Ardern has not ruled out a visit, but says it would undermine negotiations.
Newshub contacted Tainui for a response to Dr Finlayson's suggestion on Thursday, but did not receive a response.