Key Points:

There is tempered support from tribes for John Key's overture to the Maori Party to work together but that approval has exposed a schism between iwi elite views and ordinary Maori.

In the Maori seats voters' support for Labour was significant, nearly half of them gave their party tick to Labour with the Maori Party gaining 28 per cent and National 7 per cent.

Some iwi groupings such as Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa openly supported Labour's candidate during the election and commentators have said that level of support for Labour would make any choice for the Maori Party to support National an ill-fit.

But not all are convinced of that argument. Ngati Kahungunu is the country's third largest iwi with 59,946 members. Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said he was pleased with the election outcome.

"The voters obviously wanted Labour to stay in, but a lot of the leadership, myself included, have been pushing for change.

"A lot of it [Labour support] is based on fear. Kahungunu is a heavily unionised iwi. We work in factories and in the shearing sheds where the Labour nexus is strong. And those who aren't there aren't working at all."

As settlements returned to iwi economic development was the driving force in many of their operations and he didn't believe Labour understood that.

He offered conditional support for a National/Maori Party relationship.

Mr Tomoana said he liked the sound of Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples' argument about controlling budgets within health or education which would target Maori.

"I think if there's a position or an offer that's about Maori taking the steering wheel for Maori then we should take it. We've been welfarised [sic] in the past and we're just hoha [annoyed] with it. If it's sitting there we should grab it. If it comes with strings attached we don't want it."

Federation of Maori Authorities held their annual meeting at the weekend in Rotorua. With 150 members holding at least $5 billion worth of assets the meeting was billed as a gathering of Maoridom's economic giants.

Chief executive Paul Morgan said "there was no sense of mourning", from the membership at the result.

Asked how Maori leaders reconciled their preferences with their constituents Mr Morgan said Labour supporters might not be happy with the result but leaders had to take a more pragmatic approach, he said.

"From our perspective we look at the environment we have to operate in. It's irrelevant who we work with to achieve outcomes for Maori. We've moved beyond National and Labour."

Ngati Tuwharetoa's Temuera Hall heads Taupo Moana Group, an iwi business which manages $280 million worth of assets from tribes around the country.

He acknowledged the divergence between some leaders and grassroots Maori - many of whom were subject to low socio-economic circumstances and so more likely to support Labour and their social policy, he said.

However, the deal could be astute politics on both sides, the Maori Party would remain relevant and have some influence in government while the National Party looked to its future, he said.