Ngati Kahungunu iwi has finished a series of consultation hui with hapu (sub-tribes) from Wairarapa to Northern Hawke's Bay, to discuss fresh water.
Chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said there was overwhelming support at each gathering, for Maori having proprietary rights to water, whether it be a river, lake, swamp or an aquifer.
Based on recent economic research the iwi has done, he said there is at least $311 million worth of value from other waterways including rivers and acquifers within the Kahungunu rohe (tribal district).
One aquifer alone underneath the Heretaunga Plains contributes about $37 million per annum.
Mr Tomoana said all hapu want the iwi to get in behind them and fight for recognition of Maori proprietary rights over water.
He said there is encouragement to take the case to the Waitangi Tribunal, but he says his tribe would rather negotiate directly with the Crown than go down an expansive legal path and torture of going through litigation.