A lawyer specialising in natural resources says iwi will have more power to influence planning decisions - if they secure marine rights to sections of the country's coast.
The Government is carrying out inquires into claims by two tribes seeking rights under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act. The iwi involved are Ngati Porou and Ngati Pahauwera of Hawke's Bay.
A partner at the Chapman Tripp law firm, Daniel Kalderimis, says rights would flow from having customary marine title, a form of property right that would shift control and oversight.
He says the right shouldn't stretch to blocking oil drilling and mining, but there would be greater consultation between the Crown and iwi.
The Crown defines the marine and coastal area as the part of the beach that gets wet - extending to 12 nautical miles from shore.