Thousands of tenants in Auckland's CBD face rent rises from next year as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of waterfront land begins returning income to its Maori owners.

Leasehold rent payments on the ex-railway land bounded by The Strand, Quay St and Beach Rd have been suspended since Ngati Whatua bought the 20ha block in 1996.

But from August next year, the iwi will begin sending monthly bills to owners of valuable real estate, including Vector Arena, the Countdown supermarket, Quay Park Health, Grand Central Railway campus, a string of hotels, high-rise apartments, shops and restaurants.

Rent will be struck at 5 to 6 per cent of the unimproved value of the land, which Herald calculations put at about $460 million.

Rent payments on most of the land have been suspended for 15 years as part of the purchase deal.

The Ngati Whatua O Orakei Maori Trust Board's chairman, Grant Hawke, said the leasehold income would be hugely beneficial, but urged caution so the rents did not look like "a gold rush" by iwi.

Ngati Whatua O Orakei's corporate chief executive, Tiwana Tibble, said ground rent income would benefit the iwi's approximately 5000 members.

Education scholarships were a priority.

"We will be able to do a lot more than we've ever done before, that's for sure," Mr Tibble said. "It's a big jump for us, from zero to something. It was the greatest deal the trust board ever did."

He refused to say how much money would come in but referred to speculation of every apartment-owner paying $10,000 a year as being based on leasehold payments on Beaumont Quarter opposite Victoria Park.

"We're not going to bend over and give huge discounts. We don't see why we have to," said Mr Tibble.

But the iwis expect a backlash, declaring in the May edition of the newsletter E wawa ra that "there could be negative media coverage aimed at Ngati Whatua as landlords".