Hapū of Ngāpuhi preparing their claims for treaty settlement will soon be able to access upfront funding from the government, the minister of treaty negotiations has said.
The Crown stopped recognising the Tūhoronuku mandate at the end of last year, after many hapū remained steadfast they wanted their own settlement, rather than a collective one.
Minister for Treaty Negotiations Andrew Little met with ngā hapū of Ngāpuhi across the region over the weekend in a series of six regional hui to find out where the hapū of the country's largest iwi are at with preparing mandated groups.
He said hapū in the different areas he visited - which included Whangaroa, Hokianga and Whangārei, had started to form regional groups to negotiate their settlement - although this was still in the early stages.
He said the Office of Māori-Crown relations would provide upfront funding to hapū for costs they incur in their preparation to settle their claims.
"Some are more advanced than others in terms of their preparation and organisation, others are still kind of finding their way and that's why I was keen to just gauge where things are at and whether there is additional support the Crown could be providing."
An office of Māori-Crown relations - Te Arawhiti - would also established in the Far North, likely to be based in Kaikohe, and likely to be up and running in the next few weeks.
He said it was important to strengthen the relationship between the Crown and ngā hapū of Ngāpuhi, and "provide that on-going consistent dedicated assitance and support that hapū and their groupings need to form a relationship with the Crown".
"Ngāpuhi is big, there are many hapū and this is a complex arrangement and we need to make sure that Ngāpuhi hapū can connect to Te Arawhiti and therefore the Crown."
Little said while many hapū still wanted their own settlements, the Crown's preference was for a single commercial redress amount - although this was still a "live issue".
Ngāpuhi hapū Ngāti Hine sent a delegation to meet with the minister in Kerikeri, where its spokesperson, Pita Tipene, said they made clear they would never support any type of collective settlement.
"We do not want our commercial component and cash component of any redress to go to a single body because our experience is that the people in our community don't receive it."
He said the $60m fisheries settlement that Ngāpuhi received had not reached his people.
He was pleased the Crown would be setting up an office in the Far North, saying it showed a commitment by the Crown to an on-going conversation, rather than just visiting the North "when they need to tick boxes".
"I hope that whatever administration who comes in at the end of September picks up on where things are at and doesn't try to railroad over top of the hapū again because it's only going to cause further delays," Tipene said.
"Let's be very clear, the government keep trying to corral the hapū and they really need to learn once and for all that Ngāpuhi is not like any other iwi or entity that they have settled before."
Little said he also hoped to run some wānanga in the next few weeks to discuss with ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi what He Whakapukatanga, or the declaration of Māori sovereignty signed by 34 northern chiefs, means in the 21st century.
The minister did not provide a figure for how much funding the hapū could access.
Te Arawhiti has been contacted for comment.