Ownership of landmark volcanic cones in Auckland has been offered to iwi as part of a new Treaty deal aimed at breaking the settlement paralysis in the region.

Tribes met yesterday to discuss the Crown offer and after years of tension sources say the Government is confident the proposal looks likely to be accepted.

Under the terms the Crown will transfer ownership to a new collective body representing iwi called Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau, which will hold titles in trust for all Aucklanders.

The maunga will then be co-governed by a statutory board with equal membership from the Auckland Council and Tamaki collective, with the council retaining financial control.

Similar to other recent settlement offers a right of first refusal to buy Crown land will apply for 170 years, reflecting the Treaty of Waitangi, sources said.

No cash will change hands as the offer deals exclusively with the problem of "shared" or "overlapping" interests which iwi and successive governments have struggled to solve. Instead tribes' individual issues, which aren't impacted by the maunga, will be dealt with by separate settlements.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson would not comment on the offer last night.

However, the man he employed to sort out the settlement, Sir Douglas Graham, said he thought it was a fair offer.

Sir Douglas was brought in to break the deadlock which was caused by the ill-will a proposed 2006 settlement, put only to Ngati Whatua o Orakei by the then Labour Government, caused among other tribes with Auckland interests.

A year later the Waitangi Tribunal found that the Crown's decision to give priority to the tribe over other iwi was too "flawed" to go ahead, leaving Ngati Whatua and all other iwi with interests in Tamaki Makaurau in limbo.

Sir Douglas said the current offer is based on the existing way Bastion Point/Takaparawha is owned and managed.

Joggers running up Mt Eden wouldn't notice any difference, except for an improved focus on protection, if the offer was passed into legislation, he said.

"I think it is quite sensitive. It recognises [tribal] spiritual links to the maunga which have been ignored for a very long time but it protects existing rights. I think it's a win-win for everybody."

Iwi involved include various Ngati Whatua groups, Te Kawarau a Maki, Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ngati Te Ata, Te Aki Tai, Ngati Tamaoho and Hauraki/Marutuahu iwi. Provision has also been made for other Tamaki Makaurau iwi who have recognised interests to join in the future.

Tribal spokespeople were yesterday in discussions with members who were getting their first look at it the offer.

The Herald understands commercial aspects of Ngati Whatua o Orakei's 2006 deal which included a provision to buy up to $80 million of Navy land in Devonport will go ahead under fully commercialised terms.

That change is due to criticism from Sir Douglas who said that component wasn't transparent.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei did not reply to Herald requests for comment.


* Ownership of 11 volcanic cones transferred from the Crown to a collective iwi organisation of various Ngati Whatua groups, Te Kawarau a Maki, Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ngati Te Ata, Te Aki Tai, Ngati Tamaoho and Hauraki/Marutuahu iwi.
* Collective to have first rights of refusal on all Auckland regional Crown land for 170 years.
* No cash from Government. Individual tribal claims not affected by the maunga will be settled separately.

* Public access, reserve status and existing rights protected.
* Cones to be co-managed by board with equal members from iwi and Auckland Council.
* Auckland Council retains financial control.
* Maunga cannot be sold or mortgaged.

* Was only offered to Ngati Whatua.
* Tribe would have had first right to buy up to $80 million of Crown land used for Navy housing in Devonport (the Government would then have leased the land back).
* Ngati Whatua would have had right of first refusal to buy excess Crown land in central Auckland for next 100 years.