A hapu of Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Hinerangi, feels it is now at the top of Rotorua District Council's list for consultation about environmental matters.
In 2011 Rotorua District Council aimed to strengthen its relationship with the sub-tribe after a contractor mistakenly cut down a sacred tree.
The native Mangeao tree was named after a Ngati Pikiao chief, Taranui, and stood on the side of State Highway 33 near Okere Falls.
A descendant of Te Pou-a-Taranui and chair of Ngati Hinerangi, Piki Thomas, says in the past, consultation with the hapu varied from nothing at all to just being classed as the Maori view.
But Mr Thomas says that has changed, and there's now a sense the hapu is climbing the consultation ladder.
He says the council has asked its advice on a couple of matters already, and he says the sub-tribe feels very privileged.