The Maori Tertiary Students' Association says it has lodged a Waitangi Tribunal claim as a last resort because it has exhausted all other means of trying to block a political move to make student association membership voluntary.
The Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill - currently before Parliament in the name of ACT MP Heather Roy - is likely to become law before the general election in November.
But Jacqualene Poutu, the tumuaki or president of the association, also known as Te Mana Akonga, says that if the law is changed it will affect how the association represents Maori students.
She says it will make it harder to retain members who fund its work, and fewer Maori may want to join.
Ms Poutu says they've tried hard to stop the bill going any further by seeking help from iwi and hapu, as well as by going to Maori politicians.