A lawyer representing Treaty claimants says some are likely give up on having the Waitangi Tribunal hearing their grievances after a regular financial backer pulled out of funding a major inquiry.
The Crown Forestry Rental Trust is refusing to help pay towards hearings into nearly 400 claims in Northland.
The trust helps Maori to prepare, present and negotiate claims against the Crown, but has decided not to support the large inquiry which can cost up to $200,000 a week to host.
A Treaty lawyer based in Kaikohe, Moana Tuwhare, says some of her clients might be tempted to break away and seek a settlement through direct discussions with the Crown.
She says Ngapuhi people are essentially being shepherded into a situation where they have little choice, and are likely to opt for direct negotiations with the Office of Treaty Settlements.
The Tribunal is yet to announce if the Northland hearings will go ahead, and how they would be funded.