Te Runanga o Ngapuhi is unlikely to support the move to have one council ruling Northland unless Maori are given more say in it, chair Sonny Tau says.
The Local Government Commission this week announced its preference for a single unitary authority for Northland, instead of two councils.
It also suggests forming a Maori committee on the new council for Maori representation. That committee would include elected councillors and iwi representatives.
But Mr Tau says it is a tokenistic approach which gives Maori no legal bite.
Maori need to be at the decision-making table, and he sees no point in the model changing if that won't happen, he says.
Electors have until 14 February to make submissions on the proposal.