Dr Margaret Mutu says the Crown will likely play Māori off against each other in situations such as Ihumātao.
The former treaty negotiator and Professor of Māori Studies at the University of Auckland says in cases like Ihumātao, where parties disagree and mobilise popular support, ultimately it is the people who will guide the outcome.
“It’s up to the people and they’d ask me that often and I’d say it’s up to the people - I just take your instruction,” she says.
Dr Mutu, who has interviewed more than 150 treaty negotiators and claimants in her work, says the Crown will be active in pushing for the outcome they want.
“But the Crown will get in there and actually pick out individuals who they think can do that and then deliberately play divide and rule there,” she says.