The Ngapuhi runanga has been accused of creating phantom hapu in order to manipulate the settlement of the iwi's Treaty claim.
The Government has agreed to negotiate with the runanga board, Tuhoronuku, which has a majority of seats reserved for hapu. But the hapu alliance Te Kotahitanga says three of the seats are for hapu no one has heard of.
Allicance co-chair Pita Tipene says the runanga is resurrecting obscure hapu in order to maintain control of the Ngapuhi settlement.
Mr Tipene says the hapu seats should reflect the groups that have taken the Ngapuhi claims to the Waitangi Tribunal.
Runanga chair Sonny Tau has declined to discuss the make-up of Tuhoronuku.
A spokesperson for the Minister of Treaty Settlements says it's fair to say that some of the hapu on the list for inclusion in the Ngapuhi negotiations may be "inactive" .
The spokesperson says some of the hapu may be obscure or ancient, but their inclusion in the process gives everyone a chance to be represented in the negotiations, even those who no longer have a marae.
A lawyer who represents a number of prominent hapu, Moana Tuwhare, says just because a hapu's obscure doesn't mean it's a phantom. However, she says a fictitious hapu would be another matter entirely.