Iwi want more than consultation when it comes to waterways, the Government has been told.
Iwi representatives attending a Bay of Plenty Regional Council meeting on Tuesday told Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta they want to continue to have a say in the management of water resources no matter the outcome of the Three Waters reform.
In her speech to open the meeting at Te Papaiouru Marae, Mahuta said she viewed the event as an opportunity to continue "critically important" conversations.
"Our relationships with one another are absolutely key.
"We've always got to be ready to be in the same whare, to listen to each other."
Mahuta said she wanted to highlight the positive points about what the future holds.
"I think we're in an exciting time of New Zealand's history."
Mahuta said part of building an exciting future would include a more financially sustainable waters infrastructure.
"It's not going to be easy. We've got to try and keep trying to do better."
Iwi representative Nicki Douglas said Ngāti Rangiwewehi wants to be part of the decision making.
"We have the tools, mechanisms and the knowledge to protect and provide for our people and those taonga that are ours."
Douglas told meeting attendees there was an expectation the iwi would continue to be involved directly in the care of Awahou River "regardless of the entity that manages the water".
"Our message is we're very keen to have a conversation about the consents process."
Douglas explained Ngāti Rangiwewehi currently has a say in the measure of flow and the allocation of the water so that the mauri of the river can be maintained.
Te Ahi Kaa Roa representative Lani Kereopa, speaking about the geothermal resource report released recently, said iwi's involvement needed to go beyond consultation.
"We need to be consulted and resourced as Treaty partners."
Bay of Plenty Regional councillor Matemoana McDonald told Mahuta it was a challenge for local government bodies to budget for Māori participation in discussions.
"[We are] recognising the responsibility to build Māori capability to participate in the local council space. It's always a challenge to work out how we budget for this."
Mahuta recognised there were gaps.
"I can say we're very live to how we fill that gap to enable the best conversations to happen."
Mahuta released the Three Waters reform in June, saying the move on drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure would save ratepayers money.
The reform proposes to establish four new publicly-owned multi-regional entities to manage water infrastructure.
The Department of Internal Affairs website states the Three Waters reform is work that "requires ongoing engagement with iwi/Māori to understand Treaty rights of interests over the course of the reform period".
In July the Government announced it would put $2.5 billion to support local government through the reform process.