A Māori trust and a Japanese corporation have joined forces to investigate commercial hydrogen production in New Zealand.
They would use geothermal power as an energy source to make hydrogen under a pilot scheme.
If it works commercial hydrogen could be produced in the future.
A Memorandum of Understanding for the New Zealand project was signed in Tokyo in December and has just been announced.
The Māori body is Taupō-based Tuaropaki Trust which was formed in 1954 by 200 Māori landowners to push commercial ventures.
Among its operations is the 110 megawatt Mokai geothermal power plant north of Taupō.
That is owned by the Tuaropaki Trust but operated by Mercury Energy.
The Japanese partner is Tokyo's Obayashi Corporation.
It was founded in 1982 and does construction and development projects internationally.
It has more than 8500 employees and most recently worked on Auckland's Waterview tunnel.
Hydrogen has many commercial uses.
It is used to help make make ammonia for agricultural fertiliser, and to make plastics and pharmaceuticals. It is also used in the glass and silicon chip industries and turn oils into fats for commodities such as margarine, and as a clean burning fuel, with no CO2 emissions.
Emissions-free cars have been made to run on hydrogen for many years but have recently been overshadowed by cars such as the Tesla which use rechargeable batteries.