A Bay of Plenty tribe has singled out three iwi, accusing them of failing to comply with a law to divide up Kaingaroa Forest.
Under a Treaty settlement signed with the Crown in 2009, the land is to be shared among eight tribes.
But they have failed to reach an agreement and a Ngati Manawa action group called Te Kokoti Moeroa a Tangiharuru, has filed legal proceedings to kick-start the process.
The chair of the group, Pem Bird, says Tuhoe, Tuwharetoa and Raukawa are treating the forest like a commodity, when Ngati Manawa descendants are born into it.
Mr Bird says the issue is about what the whenua means to iwi. He says it's not a commodity - it's part of a birthright for his fellow members.
Leaders from Tuhoe, Tuwharetoa and Raukawa could not be reached for comment.