Waikato Tainui is welcoming an application by one of New Zealand's largest mining companies to prospect for coal in the Huntly area.
L & M Energy wants to evaluate an area covering 2000 sq km north and south of the township, which it believes could contain more than 2 billion tonnes of coal.
Tainui executive chair Tukoroirangi Morgan says coalmining has been a primary source of employment for Maori in the region since the time of his grandfather.
He told Waatea News the licence provides some continuity and confidence in long-term employment opportunities for the district.
Mr Morgan says he looks forward to building a strong relationship with the company.