Northland hapu claiming rights to an ancestral spring say it's crucial that they are recognised as soon as possible.
The Whatitiri Maori Trust says it's heard criticism over the timing of the freshwater claims to the Waitangi Tribunal and their potential to derail the Government's partial asset sales and economic plans.
But a trustee, Meryl Carter, says an Auckland company has just applied to double its allowable take from the Poroti Springs for another 35 years.
She says neither the Northland Regional Council nor the Environment Court will recognise the hapu's standing, and the tribunal is their only hope.
The springs were vested in the Whatitiri hapu by the Maori Land Court in the 1880s, and the land around them was later gazetted as Maori reserve.
But the hapu have no commercial use rights, and no control over how those rights are allocated.
An initial report on water rights is due out from the Waitangi Tribunal by the end of this week.