Questions are being raised as to why only central North Island Maori are being consulted about a plan to look for gold and silver that could cause environmental damage to waterways.
China-based Tianbao Mining Corporation has applied to the New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals for an exploration permit over 4526.28 hectares of land, between Horohoro and Atiamuri, south of Rotorua.
The work programme would consist of geological mapping, geophysical, geochemical sampling and drilling.
The Government agency has a statutory responsibility to consult with iwi and hapu whose rohe includes the permit area or who may be directly affected by a permit, but at this stage no one else is to be consulted.
Twenty three Maori groups were contacted about Tianbao Mining's plan.
Te Runanga o Ngati Kea Ngati Tuara spokesperson Maria Bargh told ONE News that everyone living in the affected area, including farmers, should be given a chance to have their say from the outset.
She says there are streams flowing through the land that connects to the Waikato River and if the plan gets the go ahead then she fears that water could become contaminated.
Doctor Bargh says exploring for gold and silver requires the use of chemicals like cyanide and arsenic to crush up the rocks.
"We're not really interested in anyone exploring for gold because we don't want them to do the gold mining.
"We're very pro-sustainable development. Our hapu has built a micro-hydro and generates electricity and that's the kind of development that we're after," Doctor Bargh says.
Federated Farmers Waikato Vice-President Andrew McGiven agrees that all stakeholders should be consulted, saying that's just part of "natural justice and equity".
Mr McGiven says consent should only be granted under very strict criteria.
The plan would still need to get approval from regional authorities before the company can start to explore.
New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals manage Government-owned oil, gas, mineral and coal resources known as the "Crown Mineral Estate".
A spokesman says the project is at the very beginning of the regulatory process and "the concerns raised are considered at a later stage".
They say applicants are primarily assessed on their technical and financial capability, the work they propose to undertake and compliance history.
In an email to ONE News, Tianbao Mining Corporation says New Zealand still has a lot of greenfields in the mining sector, which represents enormous development opportunities for the company.
It says New Zealand is a market economy with very sound legal system and open and transparent atmosphere, which provides fairly good protection for the rights and interests of investors.
"So we're confident of making investment in such a jurisdiction."