Ngāi Tahu

Our History

Over 800 years ago, our tīpuna (ancestors) were long-distance seafarers. They rode the ocean currents and navigated by stars on voyaging waka (ocean going vessels) from Hawaiki Nui, making their way across Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa to Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu. 

Waitaha, the first people of Te Waipounamu, journeyed on the Uruao waka and settled in Kā Pākihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha (the Canterbury Plains). Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu followed, and it was through warfare, intermarriage and political alliances,  that a common allegiance to Ngāi Tahu was forged. 


Who We Are

“Whakapapa is our identity, our feet on the ground…”
Whakapapa is the ancestral link which binds all Ngāi Tahu whānau.
Ngāi Tahu means “people of Tahu” and all registered tribal members can trace their ancestry back to  the tribe’s founder Tahu Pōtiki.

Whakapapa speaks to more than our relationships with each other; it links us with the land, the sea, the environment, our world and our universe. It permeates all things Ngāi Tahu, helping us understand who we are and where we come from. It lies at the core of Ngāi Tahu knowledge and understanding – it provides an unbroken link and chain of descent between the spiritual and the material, the inanimate and the animate.

Papatipu Rūnanga

There are 18 Papatipu Rūnanga spread throughout Te Waipounamu.

They exist to uphold the mana of their people over the land, the sea and the natural resources in their rohe.

No rūnanga is the same, each has opportunities and challenges shaped by the land, the environment, the towns and cities and the people that make the region home.

Ngāi Tahu Values



We will respect, foster and maintain important relationships within the organisation, our iwi and  the community.


Looking after our people


We will pay respect to each other, to iwi members and to all others. 




We will pursue knowledge and ideas that will strengthen and grow Ngāi Tahu and our community.



We will work  to protect the people, environment, knowledge, culture, language and resources important to Ngāi Tahu for future generations.


Appropriate Action


We will strive to ensure that the tikanga of Ngāi Tahu is actioned and acknowledged in all of our outcomes.




We will strive to maintain a high degree of personal integrity and ethical behaviour in all actions and decisions we make.