The Government and the country's largest tribe, Ngāpuhi, will have to come up with another proposal after the people voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to move Treaty negotiations forward.
The question of who should negotiate with the Crown has been dividing Ngāpuhi for decades, and again this week it could not be decided.
Ngāpuhi negotiatior Sonny Tau told 1 NEWS, "I don't see it as a setback, I see it as a step that was necessary to make".
Pierre Lyndon of Te News Ngāpuhi, “No, I think this is a big step forward, this is the best thing that could have happened, ‘cause you know how you have a spring clean and you vacuum everything including all the rubbish, this is a big cleanout".
One local said, "Whether it takes tomorrow or another 10 years when we settle we will settle right".
The individual vote had only 51 per cent support, while 73 of 104 hapu, or subtribes, rejected granting commercial negotiating rights to a single group.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little and iwi leaders spent the year travelling the country and visiting Australia to talk to Ngāpuhi voters about the mandate issue. Out of more than 32,000 eligible voters, only around 6000 people voted.
"Some of the young Ngāpuhi were saying can we just get on with it, what's standing in our way?" Mr Little told 1 NEWS.
Some say the problems lie with the leadership.
"There is no quality and there is no leadership," one woman said.
"Should be our own people running it - that's why we’re happy to wait," another said.
The country's largest settlement deal could be worth $500 million dollars, a boost that is desperately needed in northern towns.
"It is frustrating a lot of the young people are unemployed and don't know anything about it," one local said.
The Government says both sides need to take time to reflect before regrouping in the new year.