It's been ruled that an iwi of Te Arawa waka does not have eligible ownership rights to Rotorua land returned to the tribe by the Crown, including the popular geothermal tourist centre, Te Puia.
An arbitration review panel was brought in last year in September after three iwi couldn't resolve problems such as representation on a trust vested with Crown-returned Whakarewarewa lands and assets.
The Whakarewarewa Joint Iwi Trust is made of Ngati Wahiao, Tuhourangi and Ngati Whakaue.
But an interim ruling says the panel found Tuhourangi Tribal Authority is not an owner in three reserves including Whakarewarewa Thermal Springs Reserves.
It's been decided that Ngati Wahiao and Ngati Whakaue should have equal shares in the three reserves.
However, the panel says all three iwi have close tribal links and all have a connection to all three of the reserves.
Members gave an historical account of the use of the land.
They said after the Mt Tarawera eruption in 1886, Tuhourangi refugees relocated to Whakarewarewa to live with their Ngati Wahiao kin.
The evidence shows all Ngati Wahiao are Tuhourangi but not all Tuhourangi are Ngati Wahiao so Ngati Wahiao should be classed as the beneficiary.