The Maori King plans to invite US President Barack Obama to visit New Zealand when he leads a Tainui delegation to New York next week.

King Tuheitia is to join former Prime Minister Helen Clark for her welcome next week as United Nations Development Programme administrator.

It is understood he hopes to ask former US President Bill Clinton to pass on an invitation to visit New Zealand, and in particular, Turangawaewae, the King's base.

Mr Clinton met King Tuheitia's mother, the late Maori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu, on his visit to New Zealand in 1999.

The delegation will join Helen Clark in New York for a welcome which is likely to include a kapa haka group of New Zealanders living in the city.

King Tuheitia was given a special seat during Helen Clark's valedictory speech in Parliament, and his family presented her with a precious feather cloak.

A spokesman for the former Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that a high-powered Maori delegation would be part of her formal welcome at the UN.

King Tuheitia and the Tainui delegation will stop off in Dubai before travelling to New York.

The King is understood to be seeking an audience with the emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum, who is also the Prime Minister and vice-president.

An uncle of his, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, runs Emirates airline and was associated with moves by Dubai Aerospace in 2007 to get a controlling interest in Auckland International Airport. It eventually withdrew.

A subsequent bid for a partial takeover by a Canadian pension fund was rejected by the Labour Government.

It is not clear what business ventures with Dubai's elite, if any, are on the Tainui agenda.

But the wealthy tribe has made it clear to the Government that it is interested in infrastructure investment in New Zealand.

And in an interview with the Herald in January, iwi chairman Tukoroirangi Morgan said Auckland International Airport could be a candidate for iwi investment.

"Maori have to aggregate its economic wealth and leverage in order to secure some of this country's largest assets, including Auckland International Airport, and if we don't it will be lost forever," he said.

Mr Morgan could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The iwi has increased its $170 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement to an asset base valued at about $700 million.