The Ngapuhi rift over the Government accepting the Tuhoronuku mandate for negotiating the tribe's Treaty grievance settlement has widened with Ngati Hine withdrawing from the Crown-endorsed process.
With Ngati Hine, claimed to number 40,000, and Hokianga hapu spurning Tuhoronuku, only about half of the estimated 120,000 Ngapuhi may participate in the poll now under way to create the Tuhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority (IMA), which would appoint three to six people to negotiate a settlement with the Crown.
A spokesman for Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said yesterday the Crown had facilitated discussions between Tuhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga, including representatives of Ngati Hine and Hokianga, which had resulted in substantial changes to the mandate including much greater hapu representation than initially proposed.
It also resulted in fresh elections, now under way, so all Ngapuhi would have the opportunity to elect the 22 representatives on the proposed Tuhoronuku IMA.
"It is disappointing some Ngati Hine leaders are now discouraging their hapu from participating in or being directly represented in Ngapuhi's negotiations with the Crown," the minister's spokesman said.
A Hokianga taiwhenua hui at Whirinaki a fortnight ago unanimously decided not to take up seats on the proposed Tuhoronuku IMA.
The hui resolved to return to the Waitangi Tribunal and the courts to seek an urgent inquiry into the way in which the Crown facilitated the establishment of Tuhoronuku to suppress the voices of the hapu of Ngapuhi.
And the annual meeting of Te Runanga o Ngati Hine on Saturday unanimously voted to withdraw from any action that could be considered to be supporting the Tuhoronuku mandate.
Re-elected runanga chairman Waihoroi Shortland said: "We debated this issue from every-which-way, including capturing of the organisation and effecting change from within.
"We simply couldn't get past the notion that committing Ngati Hine to a Ngapuhi one-size-fits-all settlement was neither just or durable."
Mr Shortland said Ngati Hine had resolved to withdraw and litigate against the Tuhoronuku mandate.
It would seek its own mandate and settlement agreement with the Crown.
When Mr Finlayson and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples recognised the Tuhoronuku mandate on February 14, they said the IMA would have to report to the Crown every three months on any representation issues which could arise.
Ngati Hine want to know what the Crown will do about their withdrawals and also those of the Hokianga.
Willow-Jean Prime, of Ngati Hine, said greater hapu representation on the Tuhoronuku IMA was no guarantee hapu such as Ngati Hine could get the settlement they wanted as the hapu would have an estimated three representatives out of 22 on the IMA.
"We want to have our own negotiations, settlement and post-settlement process," she said. Te Ropu o Tuhoronuku member Titewhai Harawira said yesterday that hui would be held this month throughout Tai Tokerau, Aotearoa, and in Perth and Sydney to brief Ngapuhi on the mandate and the IMA election process. Nominations for the 22 representatives on the Tuhoronuku IMA were called last week and the roadshow to explain the mandate began with a Waimate-Taiamai-Kaikohe taiwhenua hui at the Kohewhata Marae at Kaikohe last night.
A Hokianga hui is scheduled for the Whakamaharatanga Marae at Whaimamaku from 10am-1pm today, and there will be a Whangaroa hui at Tapui Marae at Matauri Bay from 6.30-9.30 tonight.
The Pewhairangi hui will be at at the Scenic Circle Hotel in Paihia from 10am-1pm tomorrow and there will be a Whangarei hui at the city's Terenga Paraoa Marae from 6.60-9.30pm tomorrow.