The Waikato-Tainui Iwi traces its roots back to the migration of the Tainui waka (canoe), captained by Hoturoa, that voyaged from Hawaiiki across the Pacific Ocean to Aotearoa around 1350AD.
There are four principal tribes that descend from the Tainui waka: Hauraki, Ngaati Maniapoto, Ngaati Raukawa and Waikato.
The Waikato Raupatu Claim began with the formation of the Kiingitanga in 1858.
The Kiingitanga was a movement to create a unified Maaori nation under a Maaori king. After consultation among tribes from around Aotearoa, Pootatau Te Wherowhero, ariki of Waikato, was chosen to become the first Maaori king.
Pootatau, like many chiefs of his time, became convinced that unity under the umbrella of the Kiingitanga was the most effective way to protect Maaori ownership of our lands, prevent further loss of land to European settlers, and help protect tribal structures and customs from the impact of Paakeha practices and beliefs.
Pootatau died in 1860 and was succeeded by his son, Matutaera Pootatau Te Wherowhero - more commonly known as Taawhiao. Kiingi Taawhiao's reign was to last for 34 years and would include the most turbulent era of Maaori-European relations.
Three years into Taawhiao's reign, the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863 was passed, which provided for military settlements to be established on land confiscated from ‘rebels’. Following enactment of this draconian law, British troops crossed the Mangataawhiri Stream and advanced into the Waikato region, provoking war. As a result of the invasion, the people of Waikato were unjustly branded as rebels and, in 1865, more than 1.2 million acres of Waikato land was confiscated.
This act of confiscation became known to Waikato-Tainui as "Raupatu".
The war and confiscation of lands caused catastrophic economic, social and cultural damage to Waikato-Tainui - damage that is still visible today in poverty, crime and social deprivation statistics. Taawhiao and his people were rendered virtually landless and forced to retreat into the heartland of Ngaati Maniapoto. For 20 years Waikato endured their exile in what became known as the King Country and, when they finally were able to return to their homes, there was a new political and legal order in place.
The search for redress and justice for raupatu spans more than 125 years, beginning in 1884 with Kiingi Taawhiao leading a deputation to England to seek an audience with Queen Victoria. In 1995 a Deed of Settlement was signed by Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu and Crown representatives. More recently, a Deed of Settlement for the Waikato River was signed in 2008.
The tribe still has outstanding claims over the West Coast Harbours, Wairoa and Maioro land blocks.