Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived in Manila last night for the East Asia Summit where her diplomacy skills may be put to test over some difficult regional issues.

Her host is Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte who has gained international notoriety for his encouragement of unlawful killing of drug traffickers.

And she has signalled further efforts to resolve the Manus Island crisis which could put her on a collision course with our closest neighbour, Australia.

While attending the Apec summit in Vietnam Ardern came close to open criticism of Australia by saying harm was being done there and she wanted further discussions with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

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She has made an appointment with Turnbull in Manila to talk further about New Zealand's offer to take 150 of the refugees there, having raised it with him a week ago in Sydney.

The crisis is coming to a head with 600 asylum seekers refusing to leave their detention centre which has been closed under Papua New Guinean court order.

They had been detained there in co-operation with PNG as part of Australia's policy to stop boat people attempting to get there.

Ardern today is meeting India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

She will meet China's Premier Li Keqiang tomorrow.

Ardern is due to have a bilateral meeting with Duterte today where she is expected to find a polite way of saying New Zealand is outraged by the way he dispenses justice.

An Amnesty International report in June said police had taken under-the-table payments to carry out the killings - estimated to be more than 6000 - and have recruited paid killers to conduct executions as well.

The Philippines is today hosting a meeting of Asean - a grouping of 10 Southeast Asia countries - which then adds another eight countries to its meeting on Tuesday to form the East Asia Summit.

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Russia, China and the United States will all be attending but China's Premier, Li Keqiang, will be there instead of President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump will attend the Asean summit only, not the East Asia Summit.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters will be with Ardern and Associate Trade Minister Damien O'Connor will attend a meeting of countries negotiating a trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

It is being led by China and includes India but is said to be far less ambitious than the TPP.