A $400 million "little New Zealand" to be built in China will create up to 600 Kiwi jobs and open up "unprecedented" tourism, education and immigration opportunities, say Maori involved in the project.

Awataha Marae in Northcote is one of several New Zealand groups that have signed a co-operation deal with a major Chinese company to embark on the project at Qufu City, in China's northeastern province of Shandong.

Stage one is due to open in June.

"The Chinese will get to experience a slice of New Zealand without even leaving their shores, and it will sure tempt them into wanting to see and experience the real thing," said Anthony Paetawa Wilson, managing director of Awataha, which has been awarded the rights to manage the park.

Mr Wilson, who has recently returned from Qufu, where he signed the contract with the Chinese government-backed company New Zealand Gardens Qufu, refused to say who the other New Zealand organisations or individuals involved were.

He said they would be formally announced in Wellington today.

"It will open up opportunities never before seen between New Zealand and China at various levels, and will be of direct benefit to our Maori people as we seek to employ at least 400 to run the village."

Awataha will oversee the construction and management of a 2ha Maori village - the main feature of the park.

Mr Wilson said management contracts, the international school and the agreement that official souvenirs will be carved in New Zealand could provide a further 200 jobs for Kiwis.

He said that with a projected 1.5 million visitors in the first year alone to the park, which will include Chinese and Asian tourists, the level of interest in what New Zealand offered could result in "billions of dollars" worth of benefits to tourism, education and investments.

"Next to the free trade agreement, this park will provide people-to-people and country-to-country link at an unprecedented level."

Open Polytechnic chief executive Dr Caroline Seelig said her institution was appraising courses and programmes to fit into the project.