The people of Pouakani are considering their next legal move, after the Supreme Court failed to back their claim to a section of the Waikato riverbed.
The hapu has been seeking rights to a 32 kilometre stretch of the middle of the awa (river), asserting that the Crown had ownership.
But the Supreme Court found the Crown does not own that portion of the riverbed near Tokoroa, which is used by three state-controlled hydro dams.
The court has indicated Pouakani could now take its case to the Maori Land Court.
The lawyer for the sub-tribe Ian Millard QC said the ruling leads to two legal arguments.
He said one is to prove by customary Maori law the hapu has title.
Mr Millard said the other possibility is that the riverbed belongs to a wider collective of Maori, not just the sub-tribe.