A Maori trust claims the Reserve Bank has used one of its cultural patterns on the new $10 bank note without seeking advice or permission.
The tukutuku panel design, visible on the redesigned note, was taken from the Te Hau ki Turanga wharenui at Te Papa Museum in Wellington.
The Te Hau ki Turanga Trust, custodian of the meeting house, has now sought legal advice over the issue. The bank, however, says it has used the pattern for more than 20 years without any dispute.
The trust's project manager Robyn Rauna told the Herald last night she was first alerted to the use of the panels by a weaver used by the bank for the note design.
"Reserve Bank asked some weavers in Wellington to go into the house and copy the panels ... and that was what was used."
The wharenui is owned by the Rongowhakaata Settlement Trust, which was confirmed in the Rongowhakaata Claims Settlement Act 2012.
"But our trust - Te Hau ki Turanga Trust - has the custodial role for what happens with the house," Ms Rauna said.
She said it had recently attended a tribal hui where it was said that people were selling miniature replicas of the wharenui on Trade Me.
"The use of our cultural property is what is concerning everybody ... our people's expectation is that we are doing what we can to protect and safeguard our taonga [treasure], for our people.
"That's what we have an issue with - that they have attributed the panels to Te Hau ki Turanga and never sought our tribal consent."
According to Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Te Hau ki Turanga wharenui was built in 1842 on the East Coast - making it one of the oldest surviving such buildings in the world.
"The thing with Te Hau ki Turanga is that in its current form, it's not all totally original and the tukutuku panels were not done by our weavers - it's gone through a number of different changes over the 100 years it's been with the Dominion Museum and now Te Papa," Ms Rauna said.
The trust had now engaged a lawyer to contact the RBNZ on its behalf and make inquiries.
Ms Rauna said as far as she understands, the RBNZ had not yet been in contact with the trust to discuss the issue.
When contacted by the Herald yesterday afternoon, the RBNZ said the Rongowhakaata Trust had not queried its right to use the pattern, or lodged any complaint or objection of the image being used.
"During the preparation of the note designs, the bank conducted extensive research into the designs proposed for each note, and we are satisfied as to our right to reproduce the image."
The RBNZ told 3 News that the $10 banknote had used the pattern since Series 6 was introduced in 1993.
"This particular image was supplied to us by an appropriate representative of Te Hau ki Turanga wharenui. The bank had no reason to consult with any other party."
The $5 and $10 notes will be released from mid-October.