Waikato-Tainui and the Crown today signed a deal at Turangawaewae Marae worth close to $100 million.
The treaty settlement will see the tribe become a major player in the clean-up of the Waikato River.
The deal is worth $100 million to Tainui. The tribe's Endowed College will get $20m to provide the science aimed at improving the river's health and $50m will go to initiatives to protect the tribe's spiritual, social, cultural and economic relationship with the river. Those initiatives will also aim to protect and enhance significant sites, fisheries and flora and fauna in the river's lower reaches.
The tribe has also gained rights of first refusal to the Huntly Power Station and coal mining permits under the river.
There will also be $1m every year for 30 years to fund the partnership in a co-management processes.
The Crown will contribute a further $210m to a contestable clean-up fund over 30 years, separate to the tribe's entitlement.
Tainui's 1995 $170 million land settlement transferred assets to Tainui but this deal's focus is on cleaning up the Waikato River.
It is unique in that it is structured over 30 years, a nod to the tribe's long-term environmental aspirations.
Ninety-eight per cent of Te Kauhanganui representatives ratified the settlement last weekend when co-negotiators Tuku Morgan and Lady Raiha Mahuta were still working on financial details.
Final details were still being discussed as late as yesterday.
The Waikato is one of the most polluted waterways in the country. Last year 11,300 tonnes of nitrogen flowed out to sea at the Waikato River mouth.
Yesterday sources from the tribe said marae representatives were satisfied with what they knew of the deal, most of which was made public in December when the draft deed was released.
It set out a co-management regime which gives Maori and stakeholders equal say in the river's future.
"The only thing that wasn't reported [to parliament] was the numbers - there still had to be full confirmation," a source said yesterday.
"All I can say is Te Kauhanganui were happy with the deal."
Yesterday Mr Morgan wouldn't answer any questions about the settlement, including whether it triggered the tribe's relativity clauses which would pay 17 per cent of the value by which total settlements exceed $1 billion.
The total amount committed to settlements by February stood at $817 million and in June when the Central North Island forestry deal was signed - worth half a billion - Mr Morgan said the tribe was seeking clarification about the issue from the Government.