Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia wants to send a delegation to Fiji to meet military Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, saying she believes he has good intentions in proposing electoral reform and deserves a hearing.

She has also criticised the Government's lack of tolerance towards Fiji compared with other undemocratic countries it has trading relationships with - a clear reference to China.

Mrs Turia said on TV One's Q&A yesterday that her party had discussed sending Maori leaders to Fiji, which was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum on Friday after failing to commit to holding elections this year.

She later told the Herald: "We have felt that there may be a better way forward. I know from people in Fiji who have spoken to me in the last year that [Commodore Bainimarama's] intention was good. So we've got ourselves all locked up in this notion of democracy but we don't expect it of other trading partners."

She had not raised the issue with Prime Minister John Key and said the participation of her co-leader Pita Sharples, the Maori Affairs Minister, in any delegation would depend on Mr Key's approval.

Mrs Turia told Q&A that the delegation could include Dr Sharples, Maori King Tuheitia and Ngati Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu.

Mr Key said the Government would not stop anybody - including the leaders of the Maori Party - from going in their individual capacity, but would not agree to any delegation representing the Government.

"The Government is going to continue holding its negotiations through the behalf of the Pacific Forum leaders," he said. "The reason for that is that the decision to suspend Fiji from the forum was made by a collective group of leaders."

He said the Government remained willing to talk to Commodore Bainimarama and give financial help and resources to allow Fiji to hold elections. "But we would only do so if there was a genuine willingness on his part to restore Fiji to democracy."

Mrs Turia told the Herald her party's stance was prompted by concern for a neighbour.

"We're a little bit sad that this is a small Pacific nation, which we have ties to by virtue of the fact that we are a small Pacific nation as well, and we feel as if [the Maori Party] should at least try to engage, which we haven't done to date."

Fiji's suspension followed a resolution by the forum countries' leaders in January setting a deadline of May 1 for Suva to give an undertaking that it would hold elections by the end of the year.

The military government and President Josef Iloilo have said the need to reform the electoral system and remove racially based seats means the earliest elections can be held is 2014.

Mr Key has been critical of Fiji's refusal to set a date for elections, saying any electoral reforms should be made only after a democratically elected government is in place.