Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Ngati Awa and Maori regional councillors in Whakatane on Thursday told MPs they supported a law change to clean up a local river.
They made submissions before members of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee in support of the Resource Management Amendment Bill.
The bill, sponsored by Green MP Catherine Delahunty, seeks to limit the timeframe companies are allowed to discharge waste into rivers without re-applying for permission.
It would reduce the time from 35 years to five.
A paper mill in Whakatane has dumped its waste into the Tarawera River since before 1995.
Bay of Plenty regional councillor Tipene Marr says the river is so polluted that he won't be able to learn how to fish there like his ancestors did, which means his children will also miss out.
He says the river is dead and no longer has a mauri or a life force.
Mr Marr says if the bill passes, it will enhance Maori guardianship of the river.