A prominent Ngāpuhi kuia says Sonny Tau has apologised to his elders for the kererū incident and told them his fate is in their hands.
Mr Tau has been charged with hunting and possessing the protected birds, after he was allegedly caught with five kererū in a bag at Invercargill Airport last month.
A Ngāti Rehia leader, Nora Rameka, said Mr Tau told a packed hui in Kaikohe on Friday that he was sorry for his actions.
She said his korerō was that if the people no longer wanted him as a leader, then that was the day to say so.
Mrs Rameka said most of those present said they supported him and wanted him to continue to work for Ngāpuhi, and the feeling was that one mistake did not negate 15 years of work for the iwi.
She said it was her understanding that the bag of kererū, along with muttonbirds, paua and oysters, were a gift to Mr Tau from southern tangata whenua.
Long-time critics of Mr Tau's leadership said the hui was held at the runanga which Mr Tau leads, and was stacked with his supporters.
But Mrs Rameka said those at the hui were kuia and kaumatua and their views should be respected.