The chair of a group of central North Island tribes says he has no issue with the decision of one of its iwi to occupy a strip of Kaingaroa Forest.
A Ngati Manawa action group has set up camp in the Bay of Plenty forest to protest the ongoing failure by the group of eight iwi to share forestry blocks among themselves.
The Crown returned the land to iwi in 2008, but the tribes still haven't reached an agreement to divide the land between them.
The action group - Te Kokoti Moeroa a Tangiharuru - says some iwi want to divide the blocks in equal shares rather than according to mana whenua (territorial rights), and it is preparing to stay for the long haul.
Chair of the iwi collective Matt Te Pou says the iwi has a right to protest, and he has no issue with it as long as the occupation does not impact on the commercial operation of the Kaingaroa Forest, and the protesters look after themselves.