Prominent Nga Puhi elder Titewhai Harawira is backing the Nga Puhi runanga to drive and settle the tribe's claims.
The Waitangi Tribunal began hearing Nga Puhi's grievances involving sovereignty and the Treaty on Monday.
But it has still to tackle more than 600 separate hapu claims involving land losses and other breaches.
Mrs Harawira, a member of the runanga, told claimants it is the only elected body capable of co-ordinating those claims and their settlement.
She says she is supported in that view by northern elder Sir Graham Latimer, the chairman of the Maori Council.
Some Nga Puhi hapu are opposed to giving the runanga the mandate to manage their land claims, saying it is a vehicle set up by the Government, and is therefore unsuitable.