The spokesperson for four hapu in Central Hawke's Bay says it's vital local Maori play a key role in a proposed $220 million water storage project.
The regional council's Ruataniwha water storage scheme would see a dam built on the Makaroro River to store 90 million cubic metres of water which could irrigate 22,000 hectares of farmland.
Roger Maaka from Takapau says it will be the largest investment ever in the region and Maori communities will benefit.
He says it's important they're an integral part of not only the planning, but operation of the project, which will provide a range of unskilled, skilled and professional jobs.
He says the irrigation scheme will provide opportunities for Maori entrepreneurs and job trainers to get involved.
As an example, Dr Maaka says, hundreds of kilometres of pipes to transport the water will have to be constructed, laid and maintained.
Dr Maaka says at present, most of the jobs that Maori have in central Hawke's Bay are in the meat or shearing industries which are seasonal, which means at times they make up half the unemployed in the region.