Jacinda Ardern accused of 'tokenism' amid revelation she ignored advice to visit Ihumātao

The Prime Minister has been accused by protesters at Ihumātao of "tokenism" and using Māori culture when it suits her overseas while ignoring Māori interests at home.

Newshub can reveal Jacinda Ardern was advised by her officials to meet protesters at Ihumātao nearly two years ago, but she still hasn't gone and Newshub's latest poll shows a third of Kiwis think she should.

Fletcher Building was forced to suspend its housing development at Ihumātao in south Auckland earlier this year after thousands flocked to protest the construction claiming a historical Māori right to the land.

The Prime Minister negotiated a temporary halt to construction in July while a solution was sought. 

Protest leader Pania Newton says Ardern only uses Māori culture when it suits her.

"Some of her behaviour is becoming tokenistic, wearing a beautiful feathered korowai to meet the Queen and using te reo Māori in her [United Nations] speech."

Documents released to Newshub show Ardern was advised by Arts, Culture and Heritage officials in January last year that she, or her associate minister, should meet with the protesters.

That was nearly two years ago, and despite multiple invitations and a hikoi to her office, the Prime Minister still hasn't gone.

"It shows that her priorities aren't the issues that Māori are facing and her priorities seem to be somewhere over the ditch," Newton told Newshub.

At the time, a letter was drafted from Ardern to protesters acknowledging their offer of a meeting at Ihumātao, saying it is best that the meeting occurs once the Environment Court appeal concluded.

That finished a year ago.

"I will absolutely visit," the Prime Minister said. "But in the meantime, my focus is on getting this into a place where we have some resolution."

In Newshub's last Newshub-Reid Research Poll, voters were asked if they think the Prime Minister should have visited Ihumātao earlier.

While most - 56.2 percent - said "no", one-third of New Zealanders - 32 percent - said "yes" she should have visited earlier.

Newton said the New Zealand public is "calling on Jacinda Ardern to turn an eye to the concerns of Māori".

Ardern said she thinks New Zealanders "probably want me to find a solution and I can assure everyone that is what we're working on".

Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor says he's confident the stand-off will be resolved soon.

"I'm optimistic we'll get a resolution at the end of this year," he told Newshub, adding that he's "talking" with the Government and meets representatives "regularly".

A meeting is precisely what the protesters want, and they want it with the Prime Minister.

"We've asked her many, many times to come out," one male protester told Newshub.

Another protester said the Prime Minister "should definitely go out and visit Ihumātao", which was echoed by another woman who said the Government is "failing on Māori issues across the board".

The people of Ihumātao were evicted during the Land Wars in 1863. The land was acquired by the Crown, and granted to the Wallace family, Pākehā settlers who farmed it for the next 150 years.

Five years ago it was named as a Special Housing Area and in 2016 Fletcher Building bought it with plans to build almost 500 homes.

The company agreed to return about 25 percent of the land it owned in agreement with local iwi, but protesters have said it's not good enough.

Tensions boiled over when Newton claimed in August she was "rammed" by police officers during protests - an allegation the police rejected.