A framework agreement between the Crown and Maori in Auckland has paved the way for the Government to achieve its goal of settling historic Treaty of Waitangi claims by 2014.
It is the first step towards a deal which will give a collective of 12 Auckland iwi and hapu 11 of the region's volcanic cones.
The agreements in principle include transferring ownership of the volcanic cones and allowing first right of refusal on core Crown land the Government no longer needs.
The agreement will not affect public access to the land, which cannot be sold or mortgaged.
The cones will be co-managed by the iwi collective and the new Auckland super-council. They include Mt Wellington, Mt Eden, Mt Victoria and One Tree Hill.
About 100 tangata whenua from Auckland iwi and hapu crammed inside the Old Government House to witness the first of three historic signings on Friday.
Most iwi welcomed the agreements, although Ngati Whatua o Orakei, which has signed its own $18 million additional agreement in principal, says losing exclusive rights to the cones is a big concession for iwi.
Ngati Whatua trust board chairperson Grant Hawke says the signings are historic, but concedes losing exclusive rights to three of the cones is a large issue, as is losing exclusive first refusal rights for the naval base at Devonport.
An agreement in principle with Te Kawerau a Maki worth $6.5 million was also signed on Friday.
The Crown says it is possible the three settlements could be reached by the end of the year.
Maori Affaris Minister Pita Sharples congratulated the collective members on their work to resolve disagreements. He says the commitment of iwi and the super-council to govern the volcanic cones will ensure they are well looked after for future generations.