Local Māori gathered in peaceful protest at the boundary which separates Tauranga and Hauraki iwi yesterday .

Ngāi Te Rangi members were supported by other Tauranga Moana iwi at the significant site of Pukituki, near Athenree, in protest over a proposed settlement that would give Hauraki iwi rights over Tauranga Harbour. More than 200 people attended.

Iwi members were upset at the loss of the ability to use tikanga Māori processes during negotiations.

Ngāi Te Rangi Settlement Trust chairman Charlie Tawhiao said tikanga was a set of principles on which Māori culture was founded and negotiations without it undermined all Māori.

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Tawhiao said the Crown had an enduring solution to resolve conflicts of cross-claims because, under tikanga, it was clear who belonged where when proven on a marae in front of all stakeholders.

Protest organiser Meremaihi Aloua said host hapu Tamawhariua, Pirirākau and Tauwhao recalled the history of the area at the dawn protest.

"Puketuki specifically is of enormous significance to us. We have held ahi kā [occupation] over this area for generations. This is not a new battle. But this is our turn now."

Reon Tuanau, of Ngāi Te Rangi, spoke to the crowd about the relationship with Hauraki iwi and how peace had been made in the past.

He said it was important to strengthen the relationship between iwi and told the people of Hauraki to "rise up".

"Fight for what's right, you know what's right and whakapapa tells us what is right," he said.

"We shouldn't be here fighting over this whenua [land], we should be celebrating our kinship and relationship with each other and strengthening our ties with those people."

He said the land and the relationships formed between iwi were "too special" to be ruined.

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"Our tīpuna fought too hard physically to bring peace amongst us."

Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little did not want to comment.