The Manus Island refugee crisis is "a weeping sore" in New Zealand's back yard, senior cabinet minister Phil Twyford says.

The situation on the island is reported to be worsening after Australia closed down its offshore detention centre there, with 600 refugees continuing to refuse to leave.

New Zealand has offered to take 150 of them, but the Australian government hasn't taken it up.

"It's a weeping sore in terms of human rights, and it's right in our back yard," Mr Twyford said on Newshub's AM Show on Friday.


"I think the prime minister did the right thing when she reiterated to [Australian Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull that New Zealand was prepared to take some of those people."

The refugees have been offered alternative accommodation on Manus Island, off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

They won't move because they say they're afraid of being attacked by locals.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated New Zealand's offer to take some of the refugees when she met Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Sunday.

Turnbull didn't turn it down outright, saying he first wanted to work through a deal with the United States.

"Since I've left Australia we have continued to encourage Australia [to accept]," Ardern told reporters on Friday morning (NZ time) at the APEC Summit in Vietnam.

"That contact has continued since I left and I intend to talk to Prime Minister Turnbull about it as soon as I am able."

Both leaders are attending the APEC Summit in Da Nang, where they're expected to host a Remembrance Day breakfast together on Saturday morning, but will meet first at a Trans-Pacific Partnership meeting on Friday afternoon.

New Zealand's offer was made in 2013 by the previous government.

Australia has several times rejected it, saying it would give refugees a back door into Australia and could be used as a marketing opportunity by people smugglers.