A Waikato University study has found funghi and plants can reduce toxic dioxins in contaminated land.
Researchers used these naturally occuring substances to clean some dirt collected from a site polluted by discharge from the Whakatane sawmill.
About 200 employees of the old Whakatane sawmill breathed in dioxins from PCP, an anti-fungal treatment which was later banned,
Some died and others live in chronic pain, but the mill's legacy did not end there.
More than 36 sites around Whakatane were found to be contaminated and former mill employees and the iwi have been driving research to bring the land back to a healthy state.
Waikato University Biological Sciences Professor Roberta Farrell says their study has shown enzyymes from the funghi and poplars degraded the toxins.
She says they now hope to get Government funding for a larger trial.