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Hapu protest over mandate in whangarei cropElections among Ngapuhi next month are set to decide who will lead the iwi into negotations with the Crown to settle its Treaty claims .The cash settlement's likely to be the biggest to date: the former Northland MP Shane Jones predicts up to 250 million dollars.

But the process of seeking a mandate from Ngapuhi people to enter negotiations with the government has created bitter divisions in the country's largest and poorest iwi.

Some, including thousands of Ngapuhi living in Australia want their leaders to simply get on with it, and build the economic prosperity now enjoyed by  other iwi, like Ngai Tahu.

But as Radio New Zealand's Regional Reporter in Whangarei, Lois Willimas, has been finding out, many Northland hapu say an entrenched old guard - which they don't trust - has manipulated the mandate  process to ensure it retains power and  control.