Prime Minister John Key is sticking to his guns over the government's refusal to seek a national agreement with Maori on water rights.
At a hui called by Maori King Tuheitia on Thursday, Maori made it clear they want their rights to water defined before the sale of state-owned energy companies proceeds.
They want the issue of water rights resolved on a national basis, before iwi and hapu negotiate with the crown individually.
But Mr Key told Radio New Zealand the government did not believe the issue was one that needed a national solution and it was intent on talking with interested parties only.
"It's with the affected group and that's consistent with the Waitangi Tribunal who said that water is a local issue, it's about local rights, and that's the government's view," he said.
Mr Key says the government had written to the Maori Council to indicate its approach, but would not be consulting with the council as it was a pan-Maori group.
"We don't think this is a national issue. We think it is localised to those particular iwi."
Mr Key cast doubt on Maori being united on the issue, saying there were already reports of differences of opinion.
The government delayed the Mighty River Power share sale until March next year so it could hold five weeks of negotiations with iwi leaders.
The Maori Council has indicated it's prepared to take court action to stop the sale of assets if the issue of water rights isn't resolved.