Justin Tipa elected Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Nov 28, 2023

Justin Tipa (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe) has been elected Kaiwhakahaere (Chair) of Te Rūnanga Ngāi Tahu, replacing Lisa Tumahai who step downs after seven years in the role.
Yesterday’s election was held during a tribal hui at Arahura Marae near Hokitika.
A vote for the Kaiwhakahaere Tuarua (Deputy Chair) was also held during the hui, however the vote was drawn, meaning another vote for the Tuarua position will occur at the next formal meeting of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in early 2024.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is responsible for protecting and advancing the collective interests of more than 80,000 iwi members and the governance of a diverse portfolio of assets and interests.
Justin Tipa becomes Kaiwhakahaere after representing Te Rūnanga o Moeraki on the tribal council for the past two years.


“I am humbled by the support I have received throughout the motu and understand the weight of expectation that comes with these roles.

“I will always acknowledge our pakeke and kaumātua who have sacrificed much to build our tribal strengths. I do not underestimate the mahi ahead to continue to move our iwi forward.”

Justin Tipa says he is committed to listening to whānau and ensuring there is tikaka-based decision making at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Kāi Tahu whānau will have an opportunity hear from their new Kaiwhakahaere during today’s Hui-ā-tau. Around 600 whānau are expected to attend the hui, which is hosted by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae this year, one of the tribe’s 18 Papatipu Rūnanga.

“Hui-ā-tau is an opportunity to come together kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) and to hear directly from Kāi Tahu whānau,” says Justin Tipa.

“Like all New Zealanders, our whānau are experiencing the ongoing effects of rising living costs, so hearing the issues that matter to them are essential as we plan the delivery of our tribal programmes.

“I am proud to lead an iwi which has invested $930 million into tribal development since our Crown Settlement 25 years ago. It is our duty to serve our whānau now and into the future – Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – for us and our children after us.”


  • Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu holds an election to select a Kaiwhakahaere every three years. Representatives of the 18 Ngāi Tahu Papatipu Rūnaka vote to choose the Kaiwhakahaere on behalf of their registered whānau members.
  • Each Representative has a seat on the tribal council (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu) and represents the views of Ngāi Tahu whānau who whakapapa to their rūnaka.

Kaiwhakahaere: Justin Tipa

Justin grew up in Te Kohurau in the Waitaki valley and was appointed representative for Moeraki in 2021.

Justin has a strong background in language and culture revitalisation and is a passionate practitioner of traditional karakia supporting many Kāi Tahu marae to grow capacity on the paepae.

Parents to four boys, Justin and his partner Ana reside on the pā at Moeraki where Justin has been the chair of Te Rūnanga o Moeraki since 2019. Justin is also an executive member of Kāi Tahu ki Tuawhenua who represent the seven Papatipu Rūnaka of the Queenstown District Council region.

With a background in manufacturing, education and most recently as Chief Advisor Māori for Fonterra – Niu Tīreni New Zealand’s largest company, he brings a wealth of experience in navigating complex issues with multiple stakeholders.

Justin is committed to being a voice for the whānau and hapū of Moeraki and has a keen focus on succession planning.