Tauranga ratepayers have been asked to make a $60,000 contribution towards the preparation of management plans by the city's iwi and hapu.
The council this week agreed to pay $30,000 a year for two years after hearing from Reon Tuanau, a member of the Tauranga Moana Tangata Whenua Collective.
A final decision will be made next year, once the council has considered public submissions to the 2013-14 annual plan.
Next year's $30,000 grant was in addition to the $20,000 pledged to the iwi and hapu plans by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and $70,000 by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
The district council funding was for plans in its area, while the regional council's money was open to all 34 iwi and 142 hapu across the entire Bay of Plenty.
Mr Tuanau said Tauranga's funding would pay for the preparation of about six new documents. The money would also be used to review some of the eight existing iwi and hapu management plans.
He said the plans were designed to take account of the cultural, social, environmental and economic wellbeings of iwi and hapu.
However, he said the real value would be when the money and co-management arrangements started to flow out of the Treaty settlements in two or three years.
He said the plans would be a useful tool to prepare for the settlements and changes that would occur.
"The totara tree does not stand alone in the field but stands within the great forest of Tane," he said to underscore the importance of the plans to strengthen relationships between Maori and the council.
Mayor Stuart Crosby welcomed the new approach, saying he had found it strange and disappointing that existing plans had been prepared without any engagement with the council. He accepted there would be changes and new strategies developed for councils to stand beside tangata whenua.
Mr Tuanau agreed tangata whenua had to work with councils to achieve their goals and aspirations. It required a mindset change. The plans would also give hapu more autonomy.
Councillor Murray Guy said a lot of ratepayers would be saying that they were already contributing through their taxes to redress Treaty grievances, and now local iwi and hapu were wanting them to contribute to their plans as well.
He said that at the risk of Mr Tuanau coming across and smacking him in the head, he often heard that when tangata whenua, and his grandchildren for that matter, wanted to work with him it was because they wanted him to do the paying. Mr Tuanau said "I definitely won't come over and punch you in the head."
Mr Tuanau explained that tangata whenua were significant contributors to rates and with Treaty settlements not reaching fruition for two to three years, the iwi and hapu plans were needed for everyone to have clarity on the way forward.
"Iwi and hapu need to be ready earlier rather than later for the changes."
Cr Guy successfully persuaded the council to put a two-year cap on funding of $30,000 a year.
Mr Tuanau said it was a fair enough recommendation.