Whanganui iwi says talks with the Crown over the future of the Whanganui River have been productive, frank and open.
Both parties have signed a Record of Understanding which will lead to full negotiations early next year.
The claim captures the mana, management, and health of the river and the use of the waterway for hydro power.
An iwi negotiator, Gerrard Albert, says he's been able to speak his mind during non-binding discussions with the Crown.
He says the claim is not about ownership of the waterway, but about being good nga kaitiaki (guardians).
Mr Albert says it's logical that those who personify the river through its history take some responsibility for it.
The Government says the tribe has waited too long for its grievances to be addressed.
The negotiations will include input from local government, river users and other iwi with interests in the waterway.
Any settlement will preserve public access and have no adverse impact on existing private property rights.