An iwi leaders' group says talks about how a constitution might be based on the country's founding document appear to be empowering tangata whenua to find their own solutions to social problems.
The Independent Constitutional Transformation Working Group has been holding a series of hui with iwi and hapu across the country - and later plans to take the talks to non-Maori.
The group - led by Margaret Mutu, the chair of Ngati Kahu runanga, says they aim to wrap up its report by December - deliver it to the Iwi Chairs' Forum, which will then consider how it will engage with the Government.
In the meantime, she says discussions with Maori have been encouraging.
Dr Mutu says the hui are giving the people hope to think tangata whenua can resolve their own problems and not feel disempowered.