Whanganui iwi's Treaty of Waitangi claim over the Whanganui River has moved up a notch with the Crown and the tribe signing a Record of Understanding.
The claim centres on the mana, management, and health of the river and the use of the waterway for hydro power.
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson says Whanganui iwi have waited too long for their grievances to be addressed.
He says Thursday's signing means formal discussions are expected to begin early next year, with a clear sense of which issues need to be resolved.
The Whanganui River Maori Trust Board negotiator Gerrard Albert says the tribe is very happy with the progress of its claim.