A Tauranga based iwi says the Rena disaster has helped lead the tribe to form a relationship with the Ministry of Science and Innovation.
The government agency is seeking to appoint its first chief adviser for Maori development.
Ngati Ranginui, which is made up of eight hapu, has welcomed the move, saying it signals the ministry's keen to engage with tangata whenua.
Te Roopu Whakamana o nga Hapu o Ngati Ranginui holds the tribe's mandate to negotiate with the Government.
Chairperson Antoine Coffin says it wants to build a relationship with the ministry to ensure the district's environmental future.
He says the Rena disaster has raised questions about the area's sensitive ecological surroundings, which the tribe can't answer.
Mr Coffin says forming a relationship with the Crown may help the tribe prioritise research so it can make informed decisions to better manage the environment.