Ngāi Tahu leader Sir Mark Solomon is stepping down.

"Today I am announcing publicly that I will not seek re-election as the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu representative for Kaikōura. I appreciate that by the end of this year, this will result in my role as Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu coming to an end," he said.

Sir Mark was elected head of the tribe's 18-member parliament in 1998 - the same year iwi agreed to a $170 million Treaty of Waitangi cash settlement.

"With the change in the executive at my rūnanga of Kaikōura over administrative processes and practices, I have considered my position as Kaikōura representative, and I have decided not to seek re-election. I envisage I will remain representative for Kaikōura until later this year when the Kaikōura election process is due to be completed.

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"I am proud of how far we have come since settlement however, there is always a great deal of work to be done and we will continue to focus on that.

"I would like to thank my immediate whānau particularly, who have always carried the burden of my roles and responsibilities."