The kohanga reo movement has staged a protest of marching, music and chants in Wellington, to lodge an urgent claim for the movement to be protected under the Treaty of Waitangi.
A hikoi of 400 people arrived at the Waitangi Tribunal on Monday to present the board's claim.
The National Kohanga Reo Trust Board says fears for the future of the model, following recommendations in a report by the Government's early childhood taskforce.
The board says it doesn't want rules governing mainstream early childhood centres imposed on how it runs its kohanga.
It says kohanga reo should not be classed as an early childhood education centre by the Government because they were set up to foster language and culture in a Maori model.
Afterwards, tribunal director Catherine Nesus could not say how quickly it will move on the claim, nor whether it will be heard urgently.
She says a determination on that now sits with the tribunal's chairperson.
Earlier, lawyer Mai Chen said the urgency of the claim was because of recommendations in an early childhood report that could contribute to the downfall of the kohanga movement.
She says kohanga are taonga and Maori are entitled under the treaty to look after their treasures as they see fit.