Māori claimants from the North have asked the Waitangi Tribunal to spell out its position on sovereignty - and who holds it now.
The tribunal found last year that Ngāpuhi chiefs had not ceded sovereignty to the British Crown, when they signed Te Tiriti in 1840.
But it left open the question of whether the Crown had since acquired it.
A lawyer acting for claimant groups, Darrell Naden, said comments by a tribunal member at a recent hearing implied it had accepted the Crown now holds sovereignty.
And he said, if that is the case, claimants need to know.
"Our clients are presenting evidence that since 1840 sovereignty had not been ceded," he said.
"And, if the tribunal is however of the position that sovereignty has been ceded since 1840 then that affects the kind of evidence that they will present that affects the kinds of arguments that they will want to raise, and there's that kind of significance."