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Court action could be on the cards as tensions boil over between Ngāphui leaders

Court action could be on the cards for the country's largest iwi.

Insiders say talks are stalling between opposing Ngāpuhi leadership groups, Tuhoronoku and Te Kōtahitanga after a series of "failed meetings" with the new Treaty Negotiations Minister. 

Te Kōtahitanga co-chair Pita Tipene says the seven closed meetings have left him feeling frustrated, angry and betrayed.

Mr Tipene, says Andrew Little has entered discussions with a predetermined position on how Ngāpuhi will negotiate the treaty settlement. 

The settlement, tipped to be worth upwards of $500 million, will be the largest settlement in the country, but Ngāpuhi leaders remain divided over who will lead the negotiations. 

It's been an ongoing issue for the last decade, but Mr Little's appointment brought the Ngāpuhi people fresh hope. 

Now, like the previous government, the Labour-led Government is also supporting the Tuhorunuku group as a single entity to oversee the settlement.

Opposing hapu group Te Kōtahitanga wants an individual settlement for each of the six main Ngāpuhi areas.

"We want to ensure that the sub-regions will have control over their own assets after negotiations have ended," says Mr Tipene. 

Mr Little says the problem is that most of Ngāpuhi live in Auckland. 

"Many of them don't know which hapu they affiliate to so there's issues about how the Crown, which has a duty to make sure it's doing the best for all the beneficiaries of the settlement, sets up a regime that can happen."

Tuhorounku leader, Sonny Tau, wouldn't comment on the discussion process other than to say he's pleased with the progress. 

Mr Tipene says that's not the case and if there's no change they'll have no option but to take legal action. 

"If things keep going the way they are going now there's only one way it's going to go and that's a place we don't want to go and that's in court. At the moment this Government wants it quick and dirty," he says. 

The two groups began working together after the Waitangi Tribunal ruled negations must include hapu. 

Mr Little will be travelling around Northland this weekend meeting with the Ngāpuhi people. 

The iwi remains divided over who will lead them through the treaty settlement process. Source: 1 NEWS