A summit focused on improving health, education, leadership and economic development in Northland will also see the launch of a programme designed to pair young people with mentors such as Cliff Curtis.

The three-day event in Waitangi from today is being run by The Moko Foundation, an organisation founded by Navilluso, a medical business company driven by Kaitaia GP and former New Zealander of the Year Lance O'Sullivan.

Moko Foundation chief executive Deidre Otene said the purpose of the summit was to look at pathways to improve health, education, leadership and economic standing in Northland.

"Those are key priorities for us as a foundation. In order to improve that there needs to be a collective push for economic development and there needs to be a strong Maori leadership voice now and into the future. So this is just the beginning for us."

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Ms Otene said one of the reasons this was important to the region was because different iwi in Northland were in different stages of achieving Treaty settlement. Some had settled while others, like the Ngapuhi settlement, had halted.

"I think I echo the desires of many leaders in my era in terms of the needs for us to look at moving the settlement forward to overcome the large social, health and economic issues that we currently face.

"It's also timely in terms of the elections coming up so we can have some pretty robust discussions about what Northland needs to move forward and that the representatives we have in Northland ensure those are priorities for us," she said.

The event will kick off with a formal dinner at The Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi tonight.

Speakers include patron and master navigator and waka builder Hector Busby; Dr O'Sullivan, who will be speaking about leadership and innovative change; and Minister of Education Nikki Kaye will speak about the importance of creating strong leadership.

Ms Otene said the foundation will also launch a leadership programme that will see young people mentored by some of the country's leaders in health, education, performing arts, business and enterprise.

Mentors include actor Cliff Curtis, designer Kiri Nathan and Jamie Tuutaa - CEO of Te Tumu Paeroa.

Ms Otene said the hui will continue on Sunday and Monday at the Treaty Grounds and will feature keynote speakers and workshops to create pathways and action for the region.