A protection order has been placed on the wreck of the SS Ventnor, which has been found on the seafloor off the west coast of Northland where it sank in 1902.
The vessel was carrying the coffins of nearly 500 Chinese miners, whose remains were being returned to China.
The protection order was sought by the New Zealand Chinese Association and the Poon Fah Association, to protect the wreck and to stop the removal of any artefacts.
They also opposed any bid to return the miners' remains or any artefacts to China.
Chinese Association spokesperson Virginia Chong said the community considered the wreck to be the grave of their ancestors, and it must be respected and untouched.
She said it was also important that local iwi were consulted over the future of the wreck.