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A council meeting this week discussed a request by the iwi to be involved in its policy committee.
The committee makes decisions on wider policy, but they need to be passed at a full council meeting.
Cr Gretchen Robertson said the council should carefully consider how the arrangement would work, especially with conflicts of interest in the Resource Management Act process.
However, the partnership was a "great opportunity", she said.
Cr Michael Laws was concerned about involving only Ngai Tahu rather than all Maori.
"There seems to be a good strain of tokenism."
Mr Woodhead said while it was important the council was clear about the expectations and protocols for Ngai Tahu involvement, he welcomed iwi representation and input "as soon as practicable".
Council chief executive Sarah Gardner said councils often had arrangements with organisations where there were some conflicts of interest.
"It's a little bit of the reality of the world we live in."
The council approved a motion by Cr Laws that staff should seek more information on the agreement before making a decision.