The first foreshore and seabed agreement has been signed, between the Government and 48 hapu of Ngati Porou.
About 300 people were at Parliament for the signing on Friday of the agreement which recognises the hapu's customary rights to the foreshore and seabed on the East Coast.
Te Runanga o Ngati Porou chairman Api Manuika said the iwi opened negotiations in 2003, when it first heard the Government was considering changing the law to stop Maori pursuing foreshore claims through the courts.
"The Crown took away the mana of Ngati Porou to its foreshore and seabed," he said.
"The deed today was the revitalisation of the mana that had always been there and brought it back again into reality, and the Crown recognition of that mana is important to us."
Mr Mahuika said when the settlement legislation is passed, iwi and hapu will have a greater say over developments and regulations affecting its takutaimoana.
The Government said the deed protects rights which have clearly been exercised since well before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi while making sure that the interests of the wider community in the public foreshore and seabed are also protected.
Attorney General Michael Cullen says the signing gives full recognition to the iwi's customary rights and ensures their uninterrupted connection with the foreshore and seabed on the East Coast.
He says the deed shows full and proper recognition of Maori customary interests can be accomplished under the Foreshore and Seabed Act.
A heads of agreement was signed in February, while the finalised deed setting out the agreement in detail was initialled in August and was then subject to ratification by hapu.
A Bill giving effect to the deed of agreement was introduced to Parliament on 29 September.