A Ngapuhi hapu in the Bay of Islands has switched from being a vehement opponent to a supporter of the Government-approved Tuhoronuku mandate for settlement of the tribe's Treaty grievances.
About 45 people at a Ngati Rehia hui on the Whitiora Marae at Te Tii on Saturday voted to make the change on a resolution put by kaumatua Ringa Kaha Heihei and seconded by Tom Brown.
The move to support Tuhoronuku is a contrast to the stand taken by Ngati Hine, Hokianga hapu and others who want Treaty settlement negotiations delayed until after the Waitangi Tribunal has completed its Te Paparahi o Te Raki inquiry.
Ngati Rehia spokesman Te Huranga Hohaia said the hapu had vehemently opposed the Tuhoronuku stance for six years but now decided the mandate it held was the way forward.
One reason for the change of direction was the Crown altering the terms of the mandate to increase hapu representation from 7 to 22 members.
While for Ngati Rehia the terms of representation were not ideal, Te Kotahitanga o nga Hapu Ngapuhi opposition to the Tuhoronuku mandate had led the Crown to more than double hapu representation, Mr Hohaia said.
A second reason for the Ngati Rehia's change of heart was Crown insistence on Tuhoronuku separating from Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi and becoming an independent mandated authority.
"But the main driver for us is that Ngati Rehia must be at the decision-making table," Mr Hohaia said.
"We have got to be on the inside. Decisions are not made in a state of protest."
A hui to be held at the Whitiora Marae at 6pm tomorrow will explain the process for electing Tuhoronuku representatives to negotiate a Ngapuhi Treaty settlement with the Crown.