A longstanding and partial rift within northern Rangitīkei iwi is slowing their progress toward a Treaty of Waitangi Settlement for their lands.
Part of the problem is the Crown's insistence that the claim be taken by a "large natural group" of iwi working together as one, Mōkai Pātea Waitangi Claims Trust chairman Utiku Potaka said.
In the northern Rangitīkei people with links to Ngāti Hinemanu are spread through several iwi. Their interests span the Ruahine Ranges and link to the Hastings area.
Jordan Winiata is the chairman of their Ngāti Hinemanu me Ngāti Paki Heritage Trust. Its main marae is Winiata, south of Taihape, and he says they want to be recognised as a separate entity and an alternate claimant cluster.
Many Ngāti Hinemanu people don't want to be "subsumed" into the four iwi within the Mōkai Pātea trust - Ngāti Hauiti, Ngai Te Ohuake, Ngāti Tamakopiri and Ngāti Whitikaupeka.
"Our equal independence has been taken away," Winiata said.
But Potaka said the Ngāti Hinemanu group can't lead the land claim process for the entire area because it doesn't represent everyone. He has Ngāti Hinemanu links himself and is looking for a way the group can be included in Mōkai Pātea.
A meeting to resolve this on March 16 at the former Utiku School came to naught.
Potaka had hoped it would give the groups a chance to "understand who we are and how that can fit into the settlement process". Instead a large Ngāti Hinemanu and Ngāti Paki group arrived, tabled five motions, then left.
"We weren't able to debate or discuss. Those who remained to listen could see how things could work."
The Mōkai Patea Waitangi Claims Trust had hoped to begin mandate hui and voting in May.
Its last attempt in December 2017 was stopped by a Ngāti Hinemanu/Ngāti Paki group. The two groups then went into Crown-funded mediation.
Potaka isn't sure what to do next to resolve the situation. But he said however the settlement happens, the iwi will share equally.
Mandating will have to wait until some agreement with Ngāti Hinemanu is reached.
"I don't want to be pushed by the Crown timetable, only to find later on there's a division in our iwi."