A new council of elders for Ngāpuhi has been told it could be a powerful and useful body - but not if it tries to compete with the runanga.
The council hopes it will become the go-to group to help solve tribal problems.
The kaumatua want to sit alongside and offer advice to powerful Ngāpuhi organisations such as Tūhoronuku, Te Runanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhii and Te Kotahitanga.
Ngāpuhi elder Kingi Taurua wants the new rōpū [group] - formed at the weekend - to be acknowledged by the Government as the go-to group for all iwi issues.
But Te Rarawa's chief Haami Piripi said that was unrealistic.
He said runanga represented all marae in their rohe, and were the voice of the people when it came to making decisions about the iwi.
Mr Piripi said the Government should certainly talk to the taumatua for guidance on cultural matters, but the management of iwi affairs is the job of the elected entity - the runanga.
He said what was always needed was more wisdom to inform decision-making.
Mr Piripi said Te Runanga o Te Rarawa had a council of kaumatua and kuia it could call on for guidance and their advice was invaluable.