The Maori Research Institute in Rotorua says there's been huge interest from elders in honorary degrees being offered to respected elders who've worked to revive ancient cultures and traditions.
Organisers of an international conference for elders of ancient traditions and cultures being held in India in March, plan to confer an honorary degree on a respected elder from each of the world's continent, and intend including a Maori kaumatua.
They've asked the institute to nominate five elders which it believes would be a worthy recipients.
Institute director Malcolm Short says he's received nominations on behalf of 18 kaumatua.
He says institute management will meet on 30 January to decide who should make up a panel to assess the merits of those nominated.
Once the panel has decided on the five who should be considered for an honorary degree, Mr Short says it will send their CVs to the conference organisers who will make the final choice.