Prime Minister Bill English has summoned the factions in the Ngapuhi settlement to a meeting on Saturday night in a bid to salvage settlement talks.

English is due to meet with the representatives of the conflicting factions - Tuhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga - at Auckland Airport when he arrives back from Samoa.

The iwi have been on notice since last September that their settlement could be put on hold if they cannot agree on a group to negotiate for them.

It will be English's first meeting with the iwi representatives as Prime Minister, and he will be hoping to break the string of successive failed attempts to get the iwi to agree on a group to represent them in negotiations for the settlement.


Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson confirmed English had called the meeting. "The Prime Minister is exploring with the groups in Ngapuhi a couple of issues relating to the progression of the negotiations."

He said he would not be at the meeting, and denied the Government was on the verge of giving up on Ngapuhi altogether. "You never give up on iwi. We'll just have to keep at it."

He said he believed the settlement would progress quickly if Tuhoronuku agreed to the changes to its Deed of Mandate set out in a Maranga Mai report prepared by representatives of Te Kotahitanga, Tuhoronuku and the Crown last year.

That report followed the Te Kotahitanga's successful challenged of Tuhoronuku's mandate in the Waitangi Tribunal, which found wider buy-in and representation of hapu was required.

The disagreements within Ngapuhi over the settlement negotiations have now gone on for nine years.

Last September Finlayson warned Tuhoronuku, which still formally has the mandate to negotiate, that if it could not commit to the Maranga Mai model its mandate would be removed and the settlement put on hold.

That warning has so far come to nothing - a decision was due to go to Cabinet at the time, but the Government decided to keep trying. It is understood the issue of removing the mandate was recently considered again by senior Cabinet ministers but again it was ruled out.

The Maranga Mai report provided for both groups to be to be involved in the process and for wider hapu representation.


Tuhoronuku has agreed to the Maranga Mai model but with conditions attached, including concern about representation for urban iwi members. Last November it withdrew from a transition process to set up the Maranga Mai model and an attempt by Finlayson to get that back on track in January has come to nothing.

English knows the iwi leaders well after nine years leading the Government talks with the Iwi Leaders' Forum.

Pita Tipene, a member of Te Kotahitanga, said he was not sure what the meeting called by English was for.

"Maranga Mai is the report put out so he'll want to talk about the detail of how that might happen."

Interim chair of Tuhoronuku Hone Sadler has previously accused the Crown of interfering in the process and trying to "dictate" to the iwi.

After stepping down for his court hearing for poaching kereru, Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau is also again involved in Tuhoronuku as a representative - and Finlayson has been critical of Tau, claiming personality differences between Tau and those in e Kotahitanga were a major obstacle to the settlement.