A new tree could be planted on the summit of One Tree Hill next winter, says Ngati Whatua spokesman Ngarimu Blair.
Local iwi have blocked plans to replace the 125-year-old pine that was cut down in 2000 until they reached a Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown.
With a settlement involving 11 volcanic cones in the final stages, Mr Blair was hopeful of a tree planting next winter if the 13 member-tribes moved with haste to ratify the deal.
Since the pine was removed after it became unsafe following chainsaw attacks in 1994 and 1999, about 100 pohutukawa and totara seedlings taken from trees in the vicinity of One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park have been grown to provide a grove of about six trees at the summit.
A grove has the best chance of one tree surviving the harsh, wind-blown conditions at the summit of One Tree Hill. Planting needs to take place during the months of April to June to allow the trees to establish initial root growth during autumn and winter.
Plans to replant six trees at a dawn ceremony in June 2002 were stopped when then Ngati Whatua Maori Trust Board chairman Sir Hugh Kawharu notified the Auckland City Council that the local tribe was unable to attend the ceremony.
Sir Hugh said at the time that Ngati Whatua did not want the planting to proceed while it had a claim on Maungakiekie and was in negotiations with the Office of Treaty Negotiations.
Yesterday, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson briefed the Auckland Council on the settlement that involves iwi owning 11 volcanic cones in a co-governance arrangement with the council.
Public access and reserve status would be maintained and public ownership of water reservoirs and other infrastructure on the maunga (volcanic cones) would be made "absolutely clear" in legislation, he said.
Mayor Len Brown and councillors expressed concerns about how the co-governance will work, the costs for managing years of under-funding for the cones and what contribution the Government would make.