An Auckland law lecturer says international human rights frameworks could be used to boost the bargaining power of iwi negotiating with companies extracting raw materials.
Legal measures protecting iwi rights exist under acts such as the Resource Management Act and Exclusive Economic Zone Act.
But a law professor at the University of Auckland, says there are gaps between those laws and international human rights frameworks such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Andrew Erueti said while that declaration was not binding, it promotes the participation of indigenous people in economic and social development.
Professor Erueti said a project that he was undertaking, called 'Innovative Legal Solutions', will look at ways to ensure companies' policies are consistent with human rights frameworks.
He said the research would examine ways to strengthen avenues for iwi to engage with organisations.
"We're going to focus on that regulation and the need for reform of policy and law so there's more robust consultation processes, more robust impact assessment processes and a possibility of benefit sharing with industry."
Mr Erueti said the project will also conduct research into industry policies to ensure they are consistent with human rights ones.
He said he would like companies to create their own guidelines for engaging with tāngata whenua so they are fully engaged in discussions and the decision-making process.