A Tai Tokerau iwi leader says the north is losing people to Australia at the rate of 100 a month.
Carol Dodds, who is the deputy chair of the Ngapuhi runanga, says that figure represents a huge ongoing loss to the region and its future.
She says Maori and Pakeha alike are leaving for jobs in places like Perth to sustain their families and a way of life they can no longer afford in New Zealand. She says if nothing changes, they won't be back.
Mrs Dodds told a meeting of the Northland Regional Council this month that Maori and Pakeha must work together to stem the outgoing tide.
"That's why we need to be growing the economy of the north, we need to be attracting them home, we need to be creating jobs that are going to give people fulfillment, be able to provide for their families."
Iwi leaders have told the regional council that Maori organisations will be major economic players as treaty grievances are settled, and would like a closer relationship of equals with local government.