Lawyers for the Crown have told the Waitangi Tribunal that the Kohanga Reo National Trust is not a Treaty partner and is not a taonga that requires protection under the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Crown on Monday began a week of submissions in response to the trust's urgent claim with the tribunal.
Crown counsel Ben Keith told the tribunal the trust is seeking absolute rangatiratanga, with the Crown limited to providing funding.
He said that is not appropriate and the Crown can not pare back its role in advancing children's interests.
Mr Keith said the Crown has worked hard with the Trust and has obligations to it, but the trust is not a Treaty partner.
He said the government gives the trust $2.5 million a year - something no other early childhood education group gets - and total Crown funding to kohanga since the 1980s exceeds $ billion.
The Crown's submissions run for the rest of this week.