The Crown is taking an extra step to make sure Taihape iwi can agree who will negotiate their Treaty of Waitangi claims.

The Mokai Patea Waitangi Claims Trust (MPWCT) held hui and voting last year to see whether it had the mandate to represent tribes in the Taihape Inquiry Area. When votes were counted in July the trust was supported by 80 per cent of about 1000 eligible voters.

After that vote a group, represented by the Ngāti Hinemanu me Ngāti Paki Heritage Trust, started a campaign to oppose the mandate. It had previously prevented MCWPT's first attempt to get mandate in December 2017.

Mediation happened after that, and after last year's voting there were one-to-one talks between the MPWCT and the Ngāti Hinemanu group.


As a result, some changes were made to the draft deed of mandate, MPWCT chairman Utiku Potaka said.

"One of the key ones is basically incorporating engagement with our marae, including them as part of our engagement community, with iwi as well. It's a significant change in thinking on the deed."

Members of the public as well as the Taihape iwi now have until July 15 to give their feedback on the changed deed of mandate. After that the Crown, as Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little and Te Arawhiti (the Office for Crown-Māori Relations), will consider both the feedback and the result of last year's voting and decide whether MPWCT has a mandate to negotiate.

The MPWCT is getting to the point where it has made as many changes as it can to be accommodating, Potaka said. Ngāti Hinemanu and Ngāti Paki have plenty of avenues for recognition within what is proposed, he said.

"We are going over and above what other iwi have had to do, because of this small amount of opposition."

If the Crown agrees that the MPWCT has mandate, it will begin direct negotiation toward a draft deed of settlement. After that people will have a chance to vote again.

"Everybody, whether or not they are a member of the trust, can vote yes or no for the deed of settlement," Potaka said.