A member of a Hawke's Bay hapu is seeking to have land owned by an American billionaire declared Maori customary land.
The 130 hectares of land in question is owned by Julian Robertson.
John Moananui from the Ngati Hawea hapu has filed an application in the Maori Land Court involving the area 7km south of the tip of Cape Kidnappers.
Researcher and lawyer Peter Nee Harland, who helped prepare the application, says the land was sold in the 1800s by a local chief.
However, he says the land was a native reserve, meaning the chief was only the land's guardian and had no right to sell it.
Mr Nee Harland says the case could affect other blocks of land which had reserve status. He says the land in question contains an ancient burial ground.
The Maori Land Court says it has received the application and is looking at whether to accept it for consideration.
If the application meets the criteria for acceptance, the next step is a hearing.