The government admits it was too ambitious in its hopes of securing a Ngāpuhi mandate after the iwi rejected its latest proposal for treaty settlement talks.
More than 70 of its 100-plus hapū gave it the thumbs down two months ago.
The former government accepted the mandate known as Tuhoronuku, initiated by rūnanga leader Sonny Tau.
But the current coalition government said the latest vote had made it clear hapū did not want to settle under that banner, or the most recent so-called evolved version.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little has been meeting with representatives of Ngāpuhi to try and find an alternative so negotiations can begin.
Speaking to RNZ from the treaty grounds, he said he was disappointed that had not happened yet.
"I thought we might get to the point where there was an acceptable mandate and a process and we might be around the table - that did prove to be too ambitious," said Mr Little.
But he said there have also been positives outcomes from the vote.
"People have said to me that they feel freer to say things now that they feel they weren't able to say before," said Mr Little.
"Since last Friday the conversation that I've had have been quite creative, certainly very open of people expressing their view."
Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said an agreement could be made if Ngāpuhi worked together.
"The moment some people put aside their egos and their separate plans and realise that together they can get so much more than they would get separately," he said.
The Ngāti Hine hapū is also putting forward its case to split out of the Ngāpuhi talks.