The Government refuses to exclude any sacred sites from exploration areas in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals last month agreed to seek tenders for permits to explore for metallic minerals in the 8000 square kilometre volcanic zone. It consulted 99 iwi and hapu groups, of which 15 made submissions.
Iwi relationship manager Pieri Munro says many expressed their responsibility as kiatiaki (guardians) of the area, requesting that part of, or the entire zone, be excluded from tendering.
But officials determined it would not exclude any of those areas from the tender zone because there was a level of protection in place for them.
Mr Munro says if permits are granted next year, then iwi cultural and environmental concerns will be dealt with by the consenting process covered under the Resource Management Act.