The Prime Minister has refused to discuss reports of a potential loan of around $40m for Auckland Council to purchase the land at Ihumātao.

The Māori King's flag was lowered at the site near Auckland Airport last Thursday, sparking suggestions an announcement of a deal was imminent.

This week speculation has re-emerged the Government could lend money to the council to purchase the land, highly regarded for its cultural and heritage values.

At a post-Cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to confirm or deny the various proposals were discussed during the meeting, but added "nothing was rejected by Cabinet".

Speculation is mounting the Government may consider loaning money to Auckland Council to purchase the land at Ihumātao. Photo / File
Speculation is mounting the Government may consider loaning money to Auckland Council to purchase the land at Ihumātao. Photo / File

When asked if there would be an announcement before Waitangi Day she said they did not have a date yet.

"We are working incredibly hard finding a resolution ... one that acknowledges it is in private ownership with Fletcher's, one that works for mana whenua, and one that works for all New Zealanders and future generations."

The Kīngitanga has been leading talks on behalf of mana whenua - including Save Our Unique Landscape (Soul), Te Kawerau a Maki and Makaurau Marae - with the Government and Auckland Council to find a long-term resolution since August.

Kīngitanga spokeswoman Rukumoana Schaafhausen said the lowering of the flag signified they were happy with the negotiations process, and that an announcement would come before Waitangi Day, on February 6.

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Soul members have been arguing the land should not be developed because of its heritage value as one of the country's earliest sites of settlement.

In November, Heritage New Zealand proposed including the disputed land at Ihumātao in the Ōtuataua Stonefields heritage area and increasing its status from Category 2 to Category 1 - the highest level.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said on Thursday they were confident a resolution would be reached soon, and would be subject to final approval by councillors at the governing body next month.


Speaking to Radio Waatea, Goff said Ihumātao had significant cultural and heritage values as potentially the first area of habitation in the whole of Tāmaki Makaurau.

He was hopeful a deal could be reached in the next few weeks, and that any decision on the land would need to be approved by Cabinet before coming to council.

In November last year, RNZ reported the Government was considering lending money to the council so it could purchase the land from Fletchers.

Fletchers was reportedly seeking $40 million for the property, more than double the $19m it paid in 2014.

Auckland Council values Fletcher's site at 545 Oruarangi Rd at $36m, and the company indicated last February it could sell for the right offer.

This rumour has resurfaced this week, with Newshub reporting sources saying the loan could be as high as $45m.

Qiane Matata-Sipu, co-founder of Save Our Unique Landscape (Soul) and Makaurau Marae representative, told the Herald they'd received no update yet on the proposals, but they were still expecting an announcement before Waitangi Day.

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking reports of a deal being announced before Waitangi Day were false.

"The reality is that this has been a long-range discussion that will take a long, long time to be completed if it ever is," he said.

"What is being said right now by a whole range of people is simply false."

There was no solution right now for the issue, he said.