Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall considered holding a last-minute meeting on Friday evening to vote on establishing a Māori ward, after learning more about iwi views.
But the plan was quickly thwarted by standing orders, which requires 24 hours' notice for a meeting to take place.
Friday, May 21, was the last day councils could vote to establish a Māori ward in time for the 2022 local body elections.
The possibility of a last-minute meeting came after positions of district iwi - Ngā Rauru, Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa, and Tūpoho - became clearer.
The Chronicle understands Ngā Rauru and Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa supported the establishment of a Māori ward, but Tūpoho had reservations.
McDouall said he spoke to some council staff, as well as district councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay, late on Friday to work out whether a last-minute meeting was possible, and if there were enough councillors in the district able to attend the meeting.
McDouall previously said he would only entertain the possibility of establishing a Māori ward if all three iwi signalled their support, but Tūpoho leader John Maihi has remained firm in his concerns around a Māori ward.
The last-minute discussions came after accusations that the council did not adequately consult with local iwi.
Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa chairman Pahia Turia told the Chronicle his iwi wasn't formally contacted about their view on a Māori ward, despite having indicated their support for the establishment of dedicated representation within Rangitīkei District Council and Horizons Regional Council.
"Obviously in principle, we absolutely support Māori wards," Turia said.
"I won't comment on the other iwi - each of them are entitled to their opinion. I think the point here is that we are only one of the consultative groups that council should have engaged with.
"Obviously there are ratepayers out there and people on the Māori electoral roll that would've expected to be consulted on this as well."
Turia said Tūpoho were well within their rights to oppose the move and his concerns were more around the council's process, rather than the opposition from other iwi.
"What I've said to Hamish is that I'm not prepared to chuck anybody under the bus. But I think the writing is on the wall in regards to what should have happened.
"What we've seen with other councils across the country was that they engaged in a process and made a decision based upon what the outcome of that process was. Sadly, that never happened here."
McDouall said on Sunday he remained firm in his view moving to establish a Māori ward could not take place without consensus across the board, but accepted the council should have done better when it came to consultation.
"It's a fair point - we weren't overt about it. There's no doubt about that," McDouall said.
"We were out of step with other councils - there were some councils that had to consider this under a representation review. We did that previously only three years ago - we're required to do it every six years."
On Turia's concerns surrounding wider consultation with ratepayers and those on the Māori roll, McDouall said iwi were always the first point of call.
"My particular relationship has to be with iwi," McDouall said.
"You could argue that council should have gone out to the community. That's not the relationship council has.
"If I was to re-live the last three months over again, I might've written more formally to the iwi leaders in Ngā Rauru and Ngāti Apa saying we won't consider this until we get a joint position."
McDouall said the council intended to begin a process in the coming months around involving iwi on council joint committees.
"I signalled in 2019 I'd be reforming these committees in the middle of this year after the long-term plan is out.
"I'll wear the criticism that perhaps I've been focusing on that rather than the Māori wards, in terms of actually being overt about where I'm going."