Tainui Group Holdings has launched its bid for a $3 billion freight, commercial and residential development at Ruakura.
A Board of Inquiry, appointed by the Minister for the Environment opened in Hamilton on Tuesday.
The commercial arm of Waikato-Tainui wants to develop the land - the iwi acquired in the 1995 Raupatu settlement.
It wants to open an inland freight port, taking advantage of the sites proximity to the planned Waikato Expressway and existing railway lines, linking the Ports of Tauranga and Auckland.
Other stages of the project include medium density housing, a retail centre and commercial development.
Tainui Group Holdings says the proposal will create up to 11,000 jobs during the next 50-years bringing in nearly $5 billion of benefits to the economy.
It says the income will improve the social, economic and cultural well-being of the 64,000 registered tribal members of Waikato-Tainui.
If the Board of Inquiry gives the green light then Tainui Group Holdings can apply for resource consents.
The hearing is expected to last about seven weeks.