Iwi leaders say they met with the Prime Minister on Monday night so that they would not be left out of the Government's plans to expand mining.
Four senior iwi leaders - Sir Wira Gardiner, Waikato-Tainui's Tukoroirangi Morgan, Jamie Tuuta from Taranaki iwi and Ngai Tahu's Mark Solomon - met John Key and Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Mr Morgan says they called the meeting because iwi have become bystanders in the mining debate and they wanted to discuss how iwi can engage in mining and oil exploration from the beginning.
Mr Brownlee describes the iwi interest as very welcome, but Mr Key says the discussions are only preliminary.
Ngati Porou leader Apirana Mahuika says he did not attend because his iwi's opposition to exploration of the Raukumara Basin would have blocked the discussion.