Plans to build special housing on land at Ihumātao - near Auckland International Airport - should be re-evaluated, the United Nations says.
For more than two years, the Save Our Unique Landscape campaign group has contested the development of 480 homes and hopes recommendations from the UN will push the proposed housing away from their sacred lands.
The UN report recognised that consultation and consent from Māori had not been adequately sought.
It also recommended the government evaluate the plan's compliance with the Treaty of Waitangi and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Save Our Unique Landscape representative Pania Newton, who flew to Geneva alongside protester Delwyne Roberts to voice their concerns, said the report was the best possible outcome.
She said the government could no longer ignore their fight to re-locate the special housing elsewhere.
"I'm just so stoked to get this recognition from this international body at this level, this is one of the highest UN committees.
"It's disappointing that the government cannot recognise the significance of this land. This for me just solidifies what we've been fighting for."
Mr Roberts said the UN's recommendations were helpful, but he was disappointed it had taken this long for recognition.
"It is very disheartening that we have to go to the world stage to achieve this fundamental recognition and to have our plea for more just democratic processes heard."
He said the New Zealand officials fudged the issues and were unable to answer the critical questions put to them by the UN Committee.
"The UN Committee made a clear distinction between consultation and consent and it became obvious to its members that Māori most affected by the proposed housing development have not been properly consulted, nor have they given their consent."
Ms Newton said she had dedicated her life to fighting for the land, and could not see herself doing anything else until the issue was resolved.
"I have a responsibility to the future generation, to the land, and my whānau to see that this land is protected and preserved."