Iwi in the Bay of Plenty are on standby for a clean up operation if the container ship Rena breaks up.
Maritime New Zealand says salvors returned to the ship on Wednesday after rough weather forced a temporary halt to the salvage operation.
The ship has been stuck on Astrolabe Reef off the coast of Tauranga for four weeks.
The Combined Iwi Forum met Environment Minister Nick Smith on Wednesday to discuss the situation, says Ngai te Rangi runanga chairman Charlie Tawhiao.
He says even though heavy sea swells have eased, iwi are prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Mr Tawhiao says the structural integrity of the ship would have been further weakened by heavy swells on Tuesday night.
He says it is a case of being ready for when the ship does breaks up.