Chair of a collective of nine central Hawke's Bay marae says it's secured a written assurance from the local regional council - giving the group a say on the development of the Ruataniwha dam scheme.
Two companies are competing to win a contract to design and build the $600 million water storage programme in the region.
Marae collective chairman Roger Maaka says it signed a conservation agreement with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council late last week, worth $8.5 million over a 30-year-period.
He says it partly means the collective will have a say over the Ruataniwha project, and how it progresses.
Mr Maaka says the agreement also means the marae collective - called Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea - will take the lead on both land and water conservation initiatives and will provide temporary jobs as well as an environmental tribal scholarship.