Two iwi have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars by the Government thanks to an old clause in their Treaty settlements.
In December, Waikato-Tainui received $190 million and Ngāi Tahu, $180 million - both sums larger than their original settlements.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said the Government's hands were tied - the payouts were legally required.
"We're stuck with what we've got. That's the reality."
The two iwi were the first to settle with the Crown. They secured a clause which meant once Treaty payouts with all iwi reached $1 billion, they would get a share of all other settlements.
For every $1 paid to another tribe, Waikato-Tainui gets 17c and Ngāi Tahu, 16.1c.
The billion-dollar threshold was reached in 2012 when Tuhoe settled its claim. So far, more than $2 billion has been spent, most of it under the John Key-led National Government.
A Ngāi Tahu spokesperson told Stuff it was to ensure "that as one of the first iwi to settle, our economic redress continues to remain relative with all future claims settled by other iwi".
With dozens of other Treaty settlements under negotiation, it's likely Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu will receive a lot more cash before the process is complete.