A Te Arawa spokesperson says a new partnership with the Rotorua Council is a step in the right direction, but far from perfect.
Under the agreement a new independent board of 15 Te Arawa representatives will be elected to replace the Standing Committee that had been in place for more than 20 years.
Board members will be put forward to sit on two of the council's main committees in charge of finances and operations, but the nominated candidates can be vetoed by the council.
The council is not obliged to follow recommendations.
Arapeta Tahana served on the standing committee and helped develop the new deal.
He said no model was perfect; however it was an improvement on the previous model where iwi opinion was often overlooked.
"It may not give us completely what we want, but it's our opportunity to get a foot in the door and start proving that we can really add value to these discussions," he said.
"It's really down to the fact that time will tell and we have to do a good job as Te Arawa to make sure we're adding value."
Mr Tahana said eventually Te Arawa would like to have members sitting on the council.