Prime Minister John Key will consider meeting families who lost loved ones in the February earthquake, even though the Government is refusing to pay for their legal representation.
A group representing quake victims' families is battling to get government funding to pay for lawyers to represent their interests at the upcoming royal commission of inquiry into the failure of buildings that claimed 181 lives.
The Government maintains counsel assigned to assist the commission, with a family liaison appointee, will adequately meet the families' needs.
In an open letter to Mr Key and Attorney General Chris Finlayson this week, group representatives say the Government's refusal is "incredibly upsetting" for the families. They asked to meet Mr Key and Mr Finlayson to discuss the matter face to face.
Mr Key has several engagements in Christchurch today, but a spokeswoman said he hadn't received a request for a meeting.
"The Prime Minister has previously met members of the quake-victim families. They're more than welcome to extend an invitation to meet again. This will be considered by the office as all invitations are," the spokeswoman said.
A spokesman for Mr Finlayson said he was trying to find time in the next couple of weeks to meet the families.
In the open letter, the Quake Families' group chairmen Brian Kennedy and Maan Alkaisi say they believe most ordinary Kiwis "understand and sympathise with our need to have an independent voice at a commission that has been formed largely in response to our loved ones' deaths".
The counsel assisting the commission and liaison staff will not give them what they need, they say.
"We cannot risk coming out at the end of the commission process feeling that we did not have a voice, that our questions were not asked and answered. We have to find out for ourselves why our loved ones died."
The pair questioned why Pike River mine victims' families had received funding for legal representation, when they had not.
"We can't understand how you can say funding in our case is not justified because our needs are... different to those families."