Local iwi have finally gained a seat at the table in decision-making meetings the Department of Conservation (DoC) holds in connection with Whanganui National Park.
A new co-management plan now includes iwi in a shared partnership with DoC in the day-to-day running of the park, and acknowledges the deep cultural relationship they have with the land.
Whanganui Conservation Board chair Darryn Ratana says the local river iwi have long fought to be involved in looking after the park and now that dream is a reality.
He says it is a big change from when Whanganui river iwi were occupying campsites about 10 years ago objecting to being ignored.
Mr Ratana says to have come this far is a huge step forward because now iwi can talk directly to the Crown and DoC and they can work together to maintain the park.
Those discussions will take place at many different levels, Mr Ratana says.
The Whanganui River Maori Trust Board now has a statutory role to engage with the department on the part of iwi, and DoC has indicated it is happy to help the board members undertake that work.