Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand remains willing to take 150 refugees refusing to leave a former detention centre on Manus Island, and will discuss the issue with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull when they meet on Sunday.

More than 600 refugees and asylum seekers are in the Papua New Guinea centre, even though all the services have been switched off and the staff have left.

They refuse to move to the nearby Lorengau community, citing safety fears.

Acting Australian Prime Minister Julie Bishop has said the refugees would be given shelter, food and medical care in Lorengau, but Nat Jit Lam, regional representative for the United Nations refugee agency, said the sites in Lorengau were not ready.


Speaking to media this morning, Ardern said she had sympathy for the refugees, and with Australia's position.

"I think anyone would look at a situation like that and see the human face of what is an issue that New Zealand is in the lucky position of not having to struggle with, and Australia has."

She said the issue was sure to come up with Turnbull on Sunday, when she makes her first trip to Australia as Prime Minister.

Australian Green Party Senator Nick McKim, who has been on Manus Island this week, told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report that the situation was a humanitarian emergency.

"All services have been withdrawn from the camp - that includes drinking water, food, electricity, the provision of medication, and there are 600 guys who have made a collective decision to remain in the camp."

The refugees have seen "murder, riots, and they've suffered the loss of their freedoms and liberties, they've been assaulted", but they still believe that staying put was safer than moving to Lorengau.

McKim said the New Zealand offer was gracious and generous, but he asked Ardern to consider taking more than 150 refugees.

"A health crisis is looming because there are no sewage facilities running at the camp, so the toilets are full. It's not a situation that's conducive to good physical health."


Last June, in the lead-up to the Australian election, then-Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand would take 150 refugees each year from Australian detention centres, if asked to.

Labor leader Bill Shorten had raised New Zealand as a possible resettlement option for refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, which Key said he would allow to happen.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said resettlement in New Zealand could be an incentive for asylum seekers to board boats.