The kererū might have a better chance of survival if Māori were permitted a cultural take of the protected bird, says historian Paul Moon.
Professor Moon, who specialises in treaty matters, said the present law which bans any killing of the bird is at odds with article two of the treaty - which promises Māori undisturbed possession of their taonga.
He said kererū were indisputably a taonga and have always been used in association with specific traditions and cultural practices.
The AUT professor said the law as it stands has proven impossible to enforce and, although there was a wealth of anecdotal evidence that kererū were being hunted, there had been few prosecutions.
He said if hapū had a co-governance role with the Department of Conservation (DOC), and could legally take the odd kererū, they would likely do a better job of protecting their patch and using their networks than DOC could manage on its own.
But he said there would have to be resources put into protecting the birds in other ways as well, such as predator control.