Ngapuhi hapu have been given more time to nominate representatives for the organisation that will negotiate the iwi's Treaty of Waitangi claims because of "dilly-dallying" by the Crown, says one of its leaders.
The Tuhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority has agreed to extend the nomination period until April 17 for hapu wanting to nominate representatives (hapu kaikorero) to it following a request from the Crown.
Once the 22 Tuhoronuku IMA trustees are in place, negotiators will be appointed and negotiations will begin with the Crown to settle all historic grievances against Ngapuhi and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Interim chairman Sonny Tau said the extended period would not affect the four-month election process, which would be completed in late June.
"The reason we have reopened the hapu kaikorero nomination period is because the Crown has dilly-dallied around in releasing Official Information Act requests for submissions made about the Tuhoronuku Deed of Mandate," he said.
"These submissions should have been released months ago. Instead, a number of Ngapuhi have gone to the Waitangi Tribunal to seek a delay in the elections pending the release of the submissions, which they say may determine whether they take part in the process."
Mr Tau said any further delay would undermine Ngapuhi whanau which had made a decision to participate. "And it would result in a cruel and intolerable delay to the economic, social and cultural advancement that settlement will bring to the Ngapuhi people and the impoverished Te Tai Tokerau."
The extension to the nomination process follows a request from the Waitangi Tribunal to the Crown last month to pause the election process so claimants could be properly advised.
The tribunal said the Crown had been unacceptably slow in providing information to claimants and asked for the delay so claimants could be properly advised.