Climate change is the most grievous threat of the 21st century and disproportionately affects politically marginalised communities such as Indigenous peoples. As custodians of approximately 80% of the planet’s biodiversity, Indigenous cultures have practised sustainable management of ecosystems and resources over millennia providing vital pathways for humanity to better mitigate accelerating climate change impacts. This article argues that a rights-based approach is an important legal avenue to help better protect and advance Indigenous peoples’ rights and the biodiversity in their regions. The challenge is to develop a framework that incorporates Indigenous rights into international human rights law while obtaining judicial buy-in by domestic legal systems and nations. Drawing from international legal instruments to better protect and bolster Indigenous rights, and using Aotearoa New Zealand as a case study, this paper identifies how rights of Indigenous communities can be enhanced while serving the global goals of climate change mitigation and adaptation.