A consent allowing more than 315,000 cubic metres of water to be bottled annually from Hamurana Springs has been granted.
Te Tahuhu O Tawakeheimoa Trust applied for a consent last December to take water for bottling from Hamurana Stream.
The trust has been granted the consent, which allows it to take water at 10 litres per second through to September 2033.
Trust chairman Joseph Tuhakaraina said Hamurana Springs was an important taonga for the iwi and that was recognised in the consent.
"Our application made it clear that any surface water taken from the springs will be done in a way that ensures minimal impact to the river and the surrounding environment.
"We worked with other iwi, and sought feedback from government agencies such as DOC to pull together the application, so we can ensure a commitment to the sustainability of the environment."
He said getting the consent was the first step in the process and water would not be taken from the springs immediately.
"There is a lot of work to be done before that, and we will be consulting with our iwi and the community to look at options moving forward.
"The trust is considering a project, which includes using the resource to bottle water. However, no decisions have been made on that. If a proposal is agreed on, then it will be Ngāti Rangiwewehi leading this, not a third party or foreign company."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council consents manager Reuben Fraser said the Resource Management Act looked at environmental effects when considering an application.
"In this case, there is one existing water permit granted to Rotorua Lakes Council that is upstream of the proposed take.
"Therefore because the proposed activity is downstream of this take, considered to have less than minor adverse environmental effects and there are no adversely affected parties, it was non-notified. "
Being non-notified means Ngāti Rangiwewehi was granted approval to process the application without it being notified to the public.
In the regional council's report for the resource consent, the limit for the total quantity of surface water taken is set to not exceed 864 cubic metres per day or 315,360 cubic metres in any 12 month period.
"This water is to be stored in tanks and sold to the domestic and international commercial market, to be bottled and sold as drinking water."
It said "an on-site bottling plant is anticipated" in the future and it would depend on the plant operator as to how often the tanks were emptied.
"As such the need to future-proof the consent has been considered."
Rotorua Lakes Council has a consent to take water from Hamurana Springs which expires in 2026.
At the time the spring was transitioned to iwi, in 2014, the council said: "continued access if a new consent were obtained post-2026, could be achieved through an easement or lease agreement".
Infrastructure general manager Stavros Michael said the council had been advised by the regional council that the proposed activity was downstream from where Rotorua Lakes Council sourced its water for Hamurana.
"We are not aware of any impacts it would have on the current resource consent held with the regional council."
Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey has previously been vocal against the selling of New Zealand water for profit by overseas companies.
When asked about the Hamurana Springs consent, he said Ngāti Rangiwewehi were the best people, "as kaitiaki", to determine how to look after the springs.
"Let's be clear, the consent issued by Bay of Plenty Regional Council is for the extraction of surface water, not to build a water bottling plant on Hamurana Springs.
"I am satisfied that any economic development that Te Tahuhu O Tawakeheimoa Trust is pursuing from the springs, has fully considered the cultural and environmental long-term wellbeing of Hamurana Springs."
Ngāti Rangiwewehi left the community divided over a decision to charge an entrance fee to Hamurana Springs in October last year.
Hamurana and Awahou Ratepayers and Residents Association president Jerry Douglas said he didn't know how the rest of Hamurana felt but he wasn't against the new consent.
"Ngāti Rangiwewehi owns it and it is a renewable resource, so I support it as long as the water levels being taken are closely monitored."
He said what the iwi wanted to do with their land was their business.
"If they do build a water bottling plant then I wouldn't want to see it on the reserve but there is plenty of room available for them to do it.
"What they do in the long term really is up to them."
Te Tahuhu O Tawakeheimoa Trust was established as the governance entity for Ngāti Rangiwewehi when Te Kaikaitahuna (Hamurana Springs) was returned to iwi in 2014.