Council and iwi leaders say that if Ngai Tahu puts money into commercial property in Dunedin, partnerships to provide services will probably follow.
The iwi is to investigate investment opportunities in the city, after establishing a strong foothold in Christchurch over the years.
Dunedin City Council and tribal leaders held their first meeting on Monday to talk about how they could work together in the future.
Mayor Dave Cull said any Ngai Tahu commercial venture would be just a starting point.
He said there needs to be mutual trust and a relationship between the iwi and council before opportunities can turn into realities.
Tribal chair Mark Solomon said the meeting was significant because he had not met anyone from the council in the past 15 years.