Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene will not take up any new leadership positions in initiatives which bring Ngāpuhi collectives together unless he is asked to.

Tipene clarified he will not step down as co-chairman of Te Kotahitanga - the group which opposes the Crown's recognition of Tūhoronuku's mandate to negotiate claims on behalf of Ngāpuhi - until he is asked to or until Ngāpuhi has achieved a hapū-led settlement.

His comments come after there was confusion about whether he could be stepping down from the Te Kotahitanga role following an interview with Radio New Zealand.

"I agreed to be the co-chair for Te Kotahitanga because we had three key goals. Two of those two goals have been achieved and the third one - which is to ensure that there is a hapū-led settlement for Ngāpuhi - that hasn't been achieved.

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"While I say I'm willing to step down from key leadership position in terms of settlement - and that was being part of Tūhono - as long as Te Kotahitanga accepts me having any part to play I will continue to support that kaupapa until the third goal is achieved."

The first goal was to prosecute the case against the Crown that Ngāpuhi never ceded sovereignty and in 2014 the Waitangi Tribunal came back with the report which confirmed that; the second goal was to be a co-ordination point and provide leadership for the prosecution of all Ngāpuhi Treaty claims through the Waitangi Tribunal - that has also been achieved.

Tipene said it was time for new leadership in Ngāpuhi and that was reflected in the early results of the evolved mandate vote which show 68 hapū rejected that new plan to settle Ngāpuhi's Treaty claims. He said there were plenty of capable young leaders within the iwi.

"It's a fallacy that people keep thinking that you need one chief for the whole of Ngāpuhi - that's not what Ngāpuhi ever was and that's not what Ngāpuhi ever will be. Leadership will manifest itself in a group of leaders not one overlord."

Tipene said he will always be a hapū leader but feels he should not step in to new leadership positions in groups which bring Ngāpuhi collectives together.

"When the people, in particular your kaumatua and kuia, tell you your job is not finished, my own personal opinion may be superseded by others who I respect."