The next step in the Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement process is uncertain after the iwi rejected a new Treaty negotiation plan.

One leader said it is a chance for hapū who voted yes to move forward together; another agreed but said not with the evolved mandate; a kaimahi for Whangārei hapū said it's a chance to pause; and another leader said experienced people needed to come together, engage hapū, and build a new model.

Ngāpuhi hapū and individuals voted on whether or not to support the evolved mandate — a proposed plan to settle the iwi's Treaty of Waitangi claims — with the final hapū hui taking place on December 9.

Before moving to the next phase there needed to be support from 65 per cent of hapū and 75 per cent of individuals, but results released on Monday showed there was not enough support.

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Of the 6177 people who voted - out of 32,005 who were eligible - 3168 (51.29 per cent) said yes and 2963 (47.97 per cent) said no while 73 hapū said no and 31 said yes.

Hone Sadler, chairman of Tūhoronuku - the group holding the Crown-recognised mandate to negotiate Treaty claims on behalf of Ngāpuhi - said he was pleased with the result.

"This has vindicated us in terms of our Tūhoronuku mandate. And why I say that is because this result tells us that the tribunal got it wrong,'' Sadler said.

"The tribunal said there were some flaws in the mandate and that main flaw was how to get hapū involved and give them their expression of rangatiratanga - the evolved mandate has done that."

Ngāti Hau voted no at the hapū hui held at Pehiaweri Marae. Photo/Supplied
Ngāti Hau voted no at the hapū hui held at Pehiaweri Marae. Photo/Supplied

The decision to put the evolved mandate to the vote was made during a meeting at Parliament in October attended by Te Rōpū Tūhono which comprised Treaty Minister Andrew Little, Hone Sadler and Tūhoronuku deputy chairman Raniera (Sonny) Tau, and the co-chairmen of Te Kotahitanga Rudy Taylor and Pita Tipene — who has now left Tūhono.

It comes after the Waitangi Tribunal found in 2015 the Crown-recognised mandate held by Tūhoronuku was flawed as it did not protect hapū sovereignty, and follows months of consultation hui and submissions made by hapū. Taylor said the 31 hapū who voted yes should continue with the evolved mandate.

"If every hapū wanted to sit down with the minister, they're obligated to do that. But at the same time you can't stop 31 hapū that are Ngāpuhi from going forward."

Sadler agreed but said those hapū would need to move forward with the Tūhoronuku mandate.

Meanwhile, Tipene said going ahead with 31 hapū was not the way forward. He said it was up to the minister to decide what happens next, although he had his own ideas.

"What I call very capable and experienced and knowledgeable people need to get together quickly on behalf of the hapū and begin a process that will engage the hapū of Ngāpuhi, Tipene said.

"[They need to] build a model, which to a certain extent there are some very good parts of all of the models that have been put up over the last 10 years, put the very best of it together and then get the leaders who have real support to lead it."

Jade Kake, hapū volunteer for Whangārei taiwhenua, was pleased with the unity shown by Whangārei hapū in the vote. She said now was a chance for Whangārei hapū - who voted no - to figure out a working plan.

"There is an opportunity to pause and then commence a process where as hapū we can decide what we want to see in the negotiation structure," she said.

Little said he wanted to take time to consider the results in more detail.

"This process has been very positive for getting people talking about thorny issues that have troubled Ngāpuhi and the Crown relationship for too long. The feedback I am receiving is many Ngāpuhi, including those who voted against, want the dialogue to continue."

From left: Rudy Taylor, Andrew Little, Pita Tipene, Hone Sadler (behind) and Raniera (Sonny) Tau. Photo/Supplied
From left: Rudy Taylor, Andrew Little, Pita Tipene, Hone Sadler (behind) and Raniera (Sonny) Tau. Photo/Supplied

TIMELINE

2011

- Tūhoronuku sought the mandate to negotiate Treaty claims on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

- 29,389 voting packs were sent to Ngāpuhi aged 18 and over, of the 6759 who voted 76 per cent said supported Tūhoronuku's mandate.

2014
- The Crown recognised Tūhoronuku's mandate.
- Te Kotahitanga and several hapū opposed the recognition of this mandate and went to the Waitangi Tribunal requesting an urgent inquiry.

2015
- Waitangi Tribunal released a report which found while Tūhoronuku's mandate was sound, its structures undermined hapū rangatiratanga. In reaction to this an engagement group comprising the Crown, Tūhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga was formed.

2016
- The engagement group released Maranga Mai, a report which recommended a way forward. Tuhoronuku did not accept that report in its entirety.

2017
- Tūhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga were told the Crown will step away from the Ngapuhi's Treaty claims process.
- In October Labour came into Government and Andrew Little became Minister of Treaty Negotiations. He held hui in Northland over the next two months.

2018
- In March Little met with Tūhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga - several more meetings were held during the year.
- The evolved mandate proposal was developed through three rounds of consultation hui with ngā uri o ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi between July and October.
- Voting on the evolved mandate opened on November 9.