Key Points:

It would be "catastrophic' if Ngati Rangitihi didn't join the Central North Island iwi collective's $500 million settlement, an iwi delegate says.

Others say a far better deal could arise, but only if the Matata-based iwi pulls out.

Seven iwi signed off on the forestry deal at Parliament this week but Ngati Rangitihi, who had been involved right from the beginning and who had secured a 3.6 per cent share of assets, were missing.

That's because at their ratification hui two weeks ago members decided - by eight votes - not to accept the deal. However, the Government has kept the door open for the iwi to rejoin, if members ratify it.

Tribal chairman Henare Pryor said the original vote was taken against a climate of gang and physical intimidation.


The runanga hoped to hold another meeting by August. For a small iwi of 1500 members, development chances were few. To pass up the opportunity the CNI deal represented didn't bear thinking about.

"It would be catastrophic. Opponents are saying Tuhoe and Tuwharetoa got too much. That's all bullshit, that's rhetoric."

But Maanu Paul, who has blood ties to Rangitihi as well as to Ngai Moewhare, another affected iwi not covered by the deal, says the tribe would be stupid to join.

"If Rangitihi, Ngai Moewhare and Ngati Whaoa joined together to fight the deal, that would be 140,000 hectares right there. Tuhoe and Tuwharetoa could have the rest, I don't care. This deal is about delivering as many Maori to the Government as possible. I can't go along with that lie."

He also singled out bigger settling iwi such as Tuhoe and Tuwharetoa as "kuupapa" - a term that arose out of the NZ Land Wars and described iwi who sided or aided the Crown.

That's also a term Mr Paul has levelled at Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu before.

"They're licking the boots of Helen Clark."