A water bottling company which owned the rights to take millions of litres of water from Porotī Springs in Northland has sold up to the Crown as part of a Treaty settlement.
Representatives of local hapū told Newshub it's "great news" and could be a significant move regarding claims on water.
The land has been a focus of Ngāpuhi concerns about the wellbeing of the springs.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little confirmed to Newshub the Crown took ownership on Monday. The Government paid $7.5m for the land.
The Crown's property purchase includes consent to extract water.
The Government says the land will be landbanked for a future settlement.
Mr Little said the land will end up in Māori ownership eventually, and "whoever owns it can make a decision about what they do with the water".
"In terms of a future discussion about water, that's a big deal, and... the Government's pretty clear - no one owns the water," he said.
But "there may be interests in water that have to be sorted out at some point in the future," Mr Little said.
Formal discussions started three years ago under previous minister Chris Finlayson, but Mr Little says those negotiations broke down.
Zodiac Holdings says there were a range of factors leading to their decision to sell up - including potential changes to the Overseas Investment Act and the Government's plan tax bottled water exports - a promise all three Government partners made during the election campaign.
"I want to acknowledge the hapū who have endured years of frustration," Mr Little said.