Iwi leaders unhappy issues like water ownership aren't on new Government's radar

The Iwi Leaders Chairs forum who were once close to National are renegotiating their relationship with the new Government.

The 50 tribe Iwi leaders forum is talking about legal options if agreement can't be reached over major issues with new Government. Source: 1 NEWS

Iwi Leaders welcomed Jacinda Ardern to Waitangi and the welcoming tone was reportedly clearly different from previous years. 

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau says, "the main thing for us is at this time is confirm that relationship between the Crown and the Iwi Leaders, because firstly, we're the only group that has a legal mandate to speak for our people including in court."

"So if you watch today National used to walk in pat them on the head like 'Madge', and then have a meeting and then walk out. There was true engagement here in Māoritanga terms and that's a tremendous difference over the last nine years."

Despite the warm welcome, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says "there are still a lot of issues the government and Iwi Leaders need to find solutions to."

New Ministers told tribal leaders, the forum's priorities, like water and constitutional issus are not on the Government's radar, prompting a blunt response from Iwi leaders.

In a letter obtained by 1 NEWS, the forum told the Prime Minister in December that it would consider legal options.

Sonny Tau says, "We are like every other citizen in the country, everybody's got the ability to go to court over any issue they want, and there's no difference for the Iwi leaders."

Former politician John Tamihere says the letter wasn't "necessarily sanctioned by a lot of the leaders".

"I think there's a change in the way in which the Iwi leaders will work with this government."

After being issued the letter the Prime Minister is also optimistic that they "can keep working together".