Andrew Little didn't make a great Labour leader.

He was bright enough to realise this and stand down.

And look what happened.

It doesn't mean he won't be a great Treaty Minister. And he has made the first, obvious step as a fresh minister and visited Northland to listen.


Read more: Ngapuhi express views to new Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little

He will be well aware of the background of Ngapuhi Treaty claims.

The dissonance between various factions, leadership battles, credibility issues, arguments over process and mandates.

But his first step was the right one - listen.

Former Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels called for Mr Little to act, to make smart decisions.

There are multiple ways forward - former PM Bill English left it for Ngapuhi to sort out, which shows the former PM's lack of understanding about Ngapuhi's success rate in sorting things out.

Or perhaps the Ngapuhi settlement had been placed in the "too hard kite" by Mr English and his then Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson.

There is also a sense among some that Ngapuhi are ready to settle.

Mr Samuels' urging of the minister to make some decisions, and the urge to settle is all well and good, but the reality is that Ngapuhi could have settled years ago if they had their act together.

It has reached the point where Ngapuhi are holding their own people back by not settling, and beginning the post settlement process which has the potential to transform not just Ngapuhi but Northland.

So let's not have the pot call the kettle brown.

Nothing less than smart ministerial decisions and Ngapuhi unity will result in settlement, and there's not much the minister, as good a negotiator as he is, can do about the latter.