Prime Minister John Key has ruled out a national discussion with Maori over water rights.
At a national 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.
Further, Maori want the issue of water rights resolved on a national basis, before iwi and hapu negotiate with the crown individually.
However, on Friday, Mr Key said the government would not negotiate with a pan-Maori group ahead of talks with individual iwi, Fairfax reports.
"The government has a very clear position, it believes no one owns water. It does believe that on a case by case basis certain Maori may have rights and interests," he said.
"But we don't believe water is a nationalised issue. I don't see the need for a national hui, national conversation."
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.