After more than a decade, plans for a geothermal power station are being realised thanks to a $12 million Government kickstart.
The shareholders of the land say it is a "significant milestone", which will create employment for iwi.
Last week the Government dished out $139.5m to Bay of Plenty projects, including $11.9m for the first stage of a 25-megawatt geothermal plant led by Tāheke 8C and Eastland Generation, expected to create 190 jobs.
Project partners say the details of the funding are still to be worked through.
Tāheke 8C, a Māori land incorporation, has 1214ha next to the upper Kaituna River in the Ōkere Falls area.
It has more than 1300 shareholders.
The partners this year put their proposal to central government as a shovel-ready project for Infrastructure Reference Group financial support.
It has now been granted in full. The money covers the design, consents, civil works and well pads and the drilling of an exploratory geothermal well for the project.
Project leaders estimate construction of well pads could start this summer, and drilling next autumn.
Tāheke 8C chairman Tawhiri Morehu said the shareholders, as kaitiaki, administered their land "sustainably and profitably".
"This is a significant milestone for our shareholders and future generations, we hope will create employment opportunities for our people, rangatahi and community. The funding is also supporting our goal to provide renewable electricity security for our region."
Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said the project was at "a critical point".
"This will be instrumental in progressing this project at a critical point in its development.
"For Eastland Generation, this continues our strategy of building a portfolio that's truly diversified, in terms of industry and geography."
Eastland is an infrastructure, energy and logistics company headquartered in Gisborne, Tairāwhiti.
It operates the local port, airport, and electricity lines company.
The business' generation portfolio is largely based out of the region - developing and operating renewable power stations.
Eastland runs the Geothermal Developments Limited and Te Ahi O Maui geothermal plants in Kawerau.
Chris Karamea Insley, chairman of Māori business and trade advocacy group Te Tauamata, said the Central North Island had many success stories of renewable energy generation involving iwi, such as Tauhara North No. 2 Trust's ventures around Taupō.
"It's worth big dollars. If you look at what they started with - those sorts of projects have enabled some major steps forward."
He said the "spinout" of low-cost electricity also created other business opportunities such as hydroponic horticulture crops.
"But my caution would always be that they [iwi] don't get subordinated by other power plant partners."
He said being subordinate could stop iwi from being able to make the most of low-cost electricity for other businesses.