A lobby group says there is mounting anecdotal evidence of Maori representing themselves in court because they can't afford a lawyer.
Rethinking Crime and Punishment says the tightening of legal aid eligibility is to blame.
Spokesperson Kim Workman said he's receiving reports from the courts that Maori are missing out on expert legal support.
Even if they plead guilty, he said representation can cost $5000 to $6000 - money many don't have.
He said they're choosing to represent themselves, and they're doing it very badly.
Mr Workman said Maori continue to have limited access to justice.