Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta says iwi are more focused these days on controlling the use of freshwater than on owning it.
Water rights were high on the agenda for iwi leaders at the Maori King's Koroneihana hui last week.
But Ms Mahuta says the mood has shifted from last year, when the question of ownership and the Government's sale of shares in power companies were the hot topics. She says a more pragmatic approach is emerging.
She says both Ngai Tahu and Tainui have co-governance agreements in place for water and they have shown they can work constructively with the Government.
But Ms Mahuta says there are matters iwi want to revisit, such as who controls the allocation of freshwater and the length of time for which water rights are granted.
She says the Government's proposed Resource Management Act reforms present Maori with the opportunity to pursue those concerns.