The Mokai Patea Waitangi Claims Trust will seek mandate to negotiate northern Rangitikei land claims next year, chairman Utiku Potaka says.
It plans six mandate hui in Auckland, Wellington, Hastings, Taupo, Whanganui and Taihape, with the results known by June 2018.
The trust represents four northern Rangitikei iwi: Ngāi Te Ohuake, Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāti Whitikaupeka and Ngāti Tamakōpiri.
They are some of the last groups in New Zealand to seek settlement.
They started working toward settling land claims in the early 2000s and have been using a Waitangi Tribunal process.
Since February this year the tribunal has been travelling to the Taihape area for substantive hearings, most recently at Winiata Marae before Christmas. At least two more are planned.
"It's important for us, because we still want to be able to tell our story and identify the grievances each of the iwi have," Mr Potaka said.
The trust wants to seek mandate at this time, in order to be ready for direct negotiation with the Crown.
"We don't want to get too far behind."
Seeking mandate at the same time as holding hearings is a big workload for the trust, but getting mandate will mean it can move into direct negotiation after June, if the iwi agree.
"There are still some people very keen to see us through to the end of the Waitangi Tribunal process. However, we think we are coming to an end of the process in terms of the benefits that we would get from it."
The main benefit is evidence that can be used in direct negotiation, Mr Potaka said.
The iwi are buoyed by progress toward settlement, but it could still be two to five years away. They are kept informed of progress through hui and are already talking about what kind of tribal structure they want for the future.