Iwi opposed to the Pare Hauraki Treaty settlement are hailing the Waitangi Tribunal's recent report into the Crown's overlapping claims process as a significant step forward.
The Waitangi Tribunal heard from four groups opposed to the settlement, each claiming the Crown breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by failing to consult with them properly about their overlapping interests.
The settlement was fiercely opposed by a number of iwi which believed the deal encroached on their own tribal boundaries.
Far North iwi Ngāti Wai claims it should have been consulted earlier about redress promised to Pare Hauraki on Aotea - Great Barrier Island, an area they believe to be within their rohe.
But Ngāti Wai chair Aperahama Edwards said the Crown initially chose to consult with another group instead.
"It's been extremely frustrating. We have consistently asked for a process that embraces tikanga. We were ignored, we have gone through every avenue available to us to have these very real issues addressed.
"It's been a long journey and a considerable amount of effort and commitment on our whanaunga, our uri and our affected hapū. We are very pleased with the report."
The Waitangi Tribunal found the Crown either did not engage with any of the groups before signing off on the Pare Hauraki settlement, or engaged with them too late.
In some cases, the groups agreed to certain aspects in the Pare Hauraki in the settlement, only to discover later that the Crown had offered something more or different.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said he accepted he should have consulted with iwi earlier.
"That's the lesson I draw from this, that when we are negotiating with any iwi, once we are aware that there is a reasonable risk that there are overlapping interests that we should be engaging with them straight away not leaving it until the end of the process."
Tauranga-based iwi Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui claimed their rangatiratanga or authority over Tauranga was trampled on when the Crown agreed to give Pare Hauraki shared authority over the Tauranga Harbour.
Despite expressing their opposition, both iwi discovered by chance the settlement redress contained a clause allowing Pare Hauraki to participate in a Tauranga Harbour governance group.
Ngai Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley said the findings in the report were not the end of the battle, but a significant step on the way to safeguarding the mana whenua status of Ngāi Te Rangi iwi.
"The Tribunal found in favour of the Ngāi Te Rangi claims and gave broad acknowledgement that Treaty breaches occurred," he said.
"As each year, each month, and each week went by we lost several of our treasured people who passed before seeing the light of this report. There is no doubt they will be smiling their grace upon us."
Pare Hauraki chief negotiator Paul Majurey said he welcomed the tribunal's findings, and particularly its criticism of the attempts by Ngāi Te Rangi to renege on the Treaty redress agreements it did make with Pare Hauraki.
He said it was also important to consider the things the tribunal did not say in the report.
"The Tribunal did not say that Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Wai have exclusive mana whenua in the contested areas, as they argued," he said.
"The Tribunal did not say that Pare Hauraki have no customary interests in the contested areas, as claimed by Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Wai.
"The Tribunal did not say that Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Wai have a veto over the Treaty settlements of Pare Hauraki."
Majurey said he was willing to meet with iwi again to resolve the overlapping interests.
"The tribunal has come out and said what needs to happen as far as its concerned and we need to re-set and try and do this again in a way where everyone is showing some good faith and honouring how we approach these things."
Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Ranginui chair Te Pio Kawe said the tribunal's report was a vindication for iwi who felt ignored.
"The Crown didn't follow its own policy instigating a proper overlapping claims process with claims and it took some risks that they thought were good for them but in the end they were prejudicial against iwi."
Kawe said the Crown needed to take the recommendations seriously.
"They've asked for the Crown to reconsider the provisions within the Hauraki claim and undertake a process that we tried to initiate with Hauraki which was a tikanga-based approach."
For Kelly Klink, the Pare Hauraki settlement process had been deeply unsettling for her people.
Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea said the Crown consulted with them too late about redress offered to Hauraki iwi on Great Barrier Island.
"To hear that another tribal grouping wants to come over and assert that mana whenua, there has been unrest for our people," she said.
Klink said the Crown needed to follow through on the Tribunal's recommendation.
"The Waitangi Tribunal have laid the processes moving forward, I really do hope they adhere to it and think about the others that have been affected so far."
The tribunal recommended the Crown hold off giving effect to the Hauraki settlement until the contested redress has been through a proper overlapping claims process.
The Waitangi Tribunal has recommended that the Crown immediately halt the progress of legislation giving effect to the Pare Hauraki Collective Settlement Deed until a proper overlapping claims process is complete.
It will not be easy for some, who say the process has opened new grievances and fractured their relationship with the Crown.
Little has agreed to try again and find a solution to the overlapping interests, this time through a process that respects tikanga Māori.