Ngati Hine in Northland has failed in a legal attempt to have its Waitangi Tribunal claims removed from a comprehensive proposal, for which the Ngapuhi Runanga-led board of Te Ropu o Tuhoronuku has majority support.
The Maori Land Court in Whangarei ruled Ngati Hine's application was outside the court's jurisdiction and dismissed it.
In a recent poll of Ngapuhi members, 76% of voters gave Tohoronuku the mandate to negotiate Treaty issues with the Crown on behalf of all hapu.
The Runanga's Interim Chairman, Sonny Tau, says the court ruling is good news for the overwhelming majority of Ngapuhi who wish to see a settlement with the Crown achieved.
Ngati Hine Chairman Waihoroi Shortland says the decision is disappointing, but only one salvo in what he predicts will be a long-running battle with Ngapuhi.