Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson has confirmed he's "leaning towards" putting the government's work on co-governance on hold.
The work forms part of New Zealand's implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - or UNDRIP.
Jackson said he initially thought the first draft could be signed off by Cabinet before Christmas, before being put out for public consultation, but there was more work to do.
"There's still some unanswered questions and I'm sort of leaning towards the declaration being put on hold but I haven't confirmed that yet because Cabinet needs to make that final decision."
Jackson said he would take the work back to Cabinet in the next week; all but confirming it would be shelved due to it needing more work and a better level of public understanding.
"We still haven't consulted with New Zealand. We've consulted with some Māori but other people haven't had an opportunity; Pākehā people, ethnic people. That's a lot of work to do.
"We're also getting questions about it and so in terms of time I was hoping for us to have it signed off by Christmas but we're way off in terms of timelines and so there's a lot of work still to be done."
That work would continue over the next 12 months, he said.