A Ngapuhi leader has described as "amateurish" a plan by Tuku Morgan intended to unlock the stalled Treaty negotiations process.
It was an unenviable task for the former politician who had a wide-ranging brief from the Crown to find options which would lead to two factions - Tuhoronuku which claims the negotiating mandate for the more than 122,000 tribal members and Te Kotahitanga o Ngapuhi a group which wants to have claims sheparded through the Waitangi Tribunal process before any settlement is reached.
Sonny Tau is Ngapuhi runanga chairman and interim chairman of Tuhoronuku. Mr Tau said he hadn't met one Ngapuhi person who was excited about the options which he viewed as an attempt to "re-engineer" iwi social and political structures.
Disunity was nothing new in the north but Mr Tau said the main proposal to scrap Tuhoronuku and start afresh with a new independent mandated authority was madness when more than 60 hui over four years and $3 million had been spent already.
"I think instead of uniting Ngapuhi, this has been more divisive. This has put us back 150 years. I haven't met one person of Ngapuhi decent whose enthused about it. Have you read it? It's amateurish."
Mr Tau believed the proposals would eventually see Ngapuhi have post-settlement structures too much like Tainui's "failed" Te Kauhanganui parliament where embarressing High Court litigation was all too common. He criticised Mr Morgan for writing into the report more facilitation work he was prepared to do.
"He's finished," Mr Tau said.
He was seeking a meeting with the Crown, who he also criticised for their "indecision", to ask them to start direct negotiations. "If there's court challenges, well...as far as Tuhoronuku is concerned we've wasted enough time."
Mr Morgan did not return Weekend Herald calls but said in the report: "What is required is a new start, a clean slate, and a fresh process to build a consensus and broad-based support."
Pita Tipene, a spokesman for Te Kotahitanga o Ngapuhi [check] said all parties had given an undertaking not to speak to the media about the issue."All I can say is, when we make agreements between each other we stick to them."
A spokesman for Treaty Negotiations minister said the report had been received. "He's still considering his response, but in any case thinks it would be inappropriate to discuss the report publicly before he discusses it with the parties."