A company granted permission to operate New Zealand's first tidal power plant says it will not obey a cultural ban put in place by local Maori.
Ngati Whatua has resolved to place ban on the mouth of the Kaipara Harbour where Crest Energy plans to install 200 tide-driven turbines.
Lead hapu Te Uri o Hau says the project will kill fish and damage the seabed. It will use an aukati, which bans a group or person from accessing an area.
The hapu says the ban will not stop the general public from using the harbour, but will send a clear message to the company about opposition to the project.
However, Crest Energy director Anthony Hopkins says it has a legal right to proceed and will install the first three turbines as scheduled.
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has approved the staged installation of the turbines.