A Far North iwi leader says iwi Maori are creating a new emerging economy and becoming powerhouses in their own right as their Treaty claims are settled, but local councils need to learn not fear them.
Rangitane Marsden is Ngai Takoto Treaty Settlement's chief negotiator and has led it through two decades of Waitangi Tribunal hearings and negotiations with the Crown.
Mr Marsden says local government needs to learn to embrace changes that are happening and fulfil their Treaty obligations by working with Maori - and it is to their detriment if they do not.
He believes that local government is eschewing Treaty obligations due to a fear and perception of where iwi Maori sit.
Mr Marsden said there is a shifting paradigm and a new emerging economy that people should not be afraid of, and if councils and Maori became partners it would benefit the whole community.
However, he believes that is a hard message for councils to understand.