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Ngai Tahu Seafood is going on a fishing trip to China which it hopes will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

This weekend, general manager Geoff Hipkins is following up Ngai Tahu Holdings' chairman Wally Stone's visit as part of the New Zealand Government delegation to the signing of the free trade deal.

The tribe's fishing arm exports more than $100 million worth of live lobster to China annually, and it also takes a large amount of paua product.

In a country with 1.3 billion people, the deal had "amazing potential", Mr Hipkins said.

"The sky's the limit really. To me, it's a land of opportunity."

"They are a nation of seafood eaters. Now that the free trade agreement is signed we have a clear path - there will be no tariffs on seafood in five years. It's given us a real sense of excitement."

Maori are major players in the fishing industry but it's been a tough few years because of the high dollar and rising compliance costs.

And the southern iwi has felt the pain. Two years ago it made a $22 million loss before turning in a $9.2 million profit last year.

While Hong Kong had been the traditional entry point for seafood into China for the past 30 years, there needed to be more "ports of call" for Ngai Tahu exports.

Mr Hipkins' two-week trip will take in Shanghai, Beijing and Christchurch's sister-city Wuhan, an inland municipality with an eight million population. The trade agreement had already acted as a catalyst for talks in the three cities, he said.

He wouldn't say how much China might be worth to the Ngai Tahu economy in the next five years, but hoped for double-digit growth, because the majority of the tribe's higher-value products are sent to China.