Ngati Toa says it's considering going to the Waitangi Tribunal to safeguard its famous haka Ka Mate.
The Lower North Island iwi has spent more than $100,000 on legal fees trying to trademark the phrases Ka Mate, Upane Kaupane, Whiti te Ra and Ka Ora.
But the Intellectual Property Office rejected the bid, saying the haka should remain in the public domain.
Ngati Toa runanga chairperson Taku Parai says it might take the matter to the Waitangi Tribunal instead of using the courts.
He says obtaining a recommendation from the inquiry could lead to the Crown and MPs supporting the tribe in shielding its taonga from misuse.
Mr Parai says the whole of Aotearoa knows how dear the haka is, not only to the iwi, but also to the general public as well.
He says Ngati Toa moved to protect the integrity of Ka Mate after a New Zealand souvenir supplier printed phrases on tea towels.