Registration Information

The Whakapapa unit sits within Governance and Membership Services. It is responsible for:

  • Managing the tribal register and the registration process;
  • Maintaining and preserving of the 1848 Whakapapa files;
  • Providing advice and services and research pertaining to Whakapapa related matters; and,
  • Undertaking whakapapa based projects to enhance Rūnanga affiliation and communication processes.

Management of the Tribal Registration Process

The management of the tribal registration process is based on systems dating back to the 1870s and 1890s when tohunga recorded Ngāi Tahu whakapapa and traditions to progress the various tribal claims. By the 1920s however, little progress had been made. Some of those claims were 80 years old and had been subjected to numerous political and legal processes of the Crown.


In 1925 and again in 1929 the Native Land Court sat at Tuahiwi and other locations to identify the potential beneficiaries of claims relating to inadequate reserves made in 1848 and the early 1850s. Wereta Tainui Pitama was the inaugural chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Census Committee elected to guide the court in the identification process. This work necessitated Pitama and others compiling a body of whakapapa establishing the descendants of those who had lived within the original purchase area. Both the 1925 and 1929 Census Committees drew on whakapapa recorded in the 1870s and 1880s.

The work of the Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Māmoe Census Committee set the foundation for the modern day Ngāi Tahu Whakapapa record and registration process. The records generated by that Committee were organised and stored in a series of numerical files. The files were ordered around individual and or groups of related 1848 kaumātua.

Initially the Māori Land Court retained these files, but in 1966 agreement was reached between the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board and the Minister of Māori Affairs that the original whakapapa record and files would be returned to its care.

Registration Process

The enrolment process as it exists today began evolving in the mid 1960s. Enrolment forms can be obtained either by mail, in person from our office, you can download the Whakapapa Registration Form or you can complete your whakapapa registration online. The main information required, beside personal details, are your whakapapa and the name(s) of your original 1848 Kaumātua and their corresponding census number(s). These details can be found in the Ngāi Tahu 1848 Census known as the ‘Blue Book’ (469kb PDF file).


If you are not familiar with your whakapapa or unable to complete these details you will need to make an appointment with, or contact this office.

The need to arrange appointments has become necessary due to the increased interest in Ngāi Tahu whakapapa by both newly enrolled and existing beneficiaries.

This eliminates delays and avoids frustration especially for those from out of town. Interviews are mainly centered around information contained on the whakapapa files.


Verification of enrolment details

After they are received, each application for enrolment is verified. No application is accepted until its authenticity has been verified. If insufficient or incorrect whakapapa details have been supplied your application will be delayed, so please ensure you check your application carefully before submitting it and ensure you have attached all the required documentation. Being on the Tribal Register is important as it is the main facet for tribal communication. The Register provides a mail link between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and its beneficiaries.

It is vitally important that the Register be kept as accurate and up to date as is possible. This can be achieved by enrolled beneficiaries notifying our office with change of address, occupation, births, and family bereavements.


The issue of adoption is governed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu policy and Government legislation. The policy remains that enrolments are only accepted from direct bloodline descendants of the Kaumātua in the 1848 Ngāi Tahu Census.

Adopted persons are therefore not eligible to enrol as Ngāi Tahu beneficiaries unless they are of Ngāi Tahu descent. This stance is reinforced in law. (Refer to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Act 1996, Section 7).