The Te Arawa Partnership model is back on the council's agenda, with some councillors fearing it could be pushed through next week.
A report on the proposal is set to be discussed at the year's final Rotorua Lakes Council meeting next Thursday from 4pm.
Under the model a new Te Arawa board, independent of council and Te Arawa entities, will take over from the Te Arawa Standing Committee, which has been stood down. Board members could be allowed to sit on council committees, be part of Resource Management Act decisions and establish their own sub-committees. A series of hui have been held with iwi during the past two months with the final one on Sunday.
Councillor Mike McVicker said there would be objections if the issue was pushed through. He said he believed there should be public consultation.
"Anything other than an open democratic route is wrong, when you start tinkering with democracy that's a major no-no," Mr McVicker said.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the need to develop a more meaningful partnership with iwi, and specifically Te Arawa, was a key outcome of the community conversation on Rotorua 2030 shared vision and goals.
"Since June there has been an extended conversation amongst Te Arawa about what form this relationship could and should take. The council's position has always been to let that process take its course and when Te Arawa were ready we would consider their proposal."
Mr McVicker said recent feedback showed most ratepayers rejected the proposal.
"If the mayor tries to ram it through at that meeting, the council numbers may be close and she has the casting vote. If she tries to ram this through it will be a huge mistake. I've supported her with everything she's done, I publicly acknowledge that she's done a marvellous job this year but in this one area she could undo a lot of good work if she tries to push it through. It will only create division in our community."
Councillor Mark Gould said he wanted the issue discussed separately to other council items.
"I would want this on a total separate day altogether and this issue to be discussed openly and fairly at 9.30am in the morning, not 4pm. This needs to be out in the open," he said.
"It shouldn't be discussed in a workshop, either, I think it's very unfair for the general public to see the decision made in three minutes flat but not realising that there's been six hours' discussion beforehand."
Mrs Chadwick said a report would be presented to councillors to consider options in principle. The report will be circulated with the agenda three days before the meeting.
"To assist with considering this report, a confidential briefing is proposed for councillors in advance of the council meeting that day. This is to ensure councillors are able to seek clarification from council's legal advisers on issues of significance and legal requirements under the Local Government Act," she said.
Te Arawa Standing Committee spokesman Arapeta Tahana said his view was that Te Arawa wasn't forcing this issue.
"This isn't Te Arawa pushing this through, this is us merely presenting a potential model that works for Te Arawa and the actual decision making process is governed by Rotorua [Lakes] Council," he said.