Our Kawenata To Guide The Way

Maniapoto kaumātua and other iwi members gathered together earlier in the year at Napinapi marae to reflect on the relevance today of a tribal Kawenata (Covenant) written over 100 years ago.

In 1903, the aged chief Te Rangituataka Takerei called together a great gathering of Ngāti Maniapoto to contemplate their future as an iwi. They met at his grand residence at Mahoenui from 25-28 December 1903 which culminated in the drafting of ‘Te Kawenata o Ngāti Maniapoto me ōna hapū maha’ – the Covenant of Ngāti Maniapoto and its many subtribes.

Historian Paul Meredith noted that by the beginning of the twentieth century, Ngāti Maniapoto were a divided people. The Native Land Court moved through the King Country at an unprecedented pace individualising land titles and alienating large tracts of land which undermined the tribe’s collective nature and tribal authority. For Meredith, the Kawenata was about ‘kotahitanga’ – uniting the tribe.

Ngāti Maniapoto kaumātua and others gather in front of Te Rangituataka’s home at Mahoenui where the original Ngāti Maniapoto hui took place in late December 1903 and where Maniapoto kaumātua subsequently drafted the Kawenata in early January 1904

Dr Roa analysed the Kawenata text and believes it has all the hallmarks of a constitution:  “It speaks to who were are as a people and identifies a body of fundamental principles to guide the tribe.”

Dr Robert Joseph, Director of the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre at Waikato University added that the Kawenata themes apply as much today as they did in 1904: “In essence, it talks about good Maniapoto governance.  It reflects on a rich traditional Maniapoto past, advocates for the unity of tribal diversity, and promotes a commitment to a strong Maniapoto identity and future while pursuing Maniapoto cultural, social and economic well-being and prosperity.”

Wānanga participants visited the site where the Kawenata hui took place where Te Rangituataka’s residence still stands. The Chair of the Maniapoto Māori Trust Board, Tiwha Bell, welcomes the renewed interest in the Kawenata as the tribe negotiates a Treaty Settlement and considers what a new post-settlement Maniapoto entity and future might look like: “Our tūpuna left us this Kawenata to remind us of who we are as a tribe and that our wellbeing and prosperity as a people will require unity and the maintenance of our Maniapoto identity and traditions.”

Te Whare o te Nehenehenui – Treaty Negotiation Workshops


The next round of Settlement workshops will be taking place over the coming month to provide an overall update.

Workshop Dates

Te Rā: Kei: Te Wā:
20/05/17 Novotel Auckland



21/05/17 Te Rongoroa Marae


21/05/17 Te Ahoroa

Te Kuiti

27/05/17 Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa

Dinsdale, Hamilton

27/05/17 Mokau Kohunui Marae


28/05/17 Te Kotahitanga Marae


28/05/17 Rakaunui Marae


1/06/17 Theatre One

Faculty of Law

Victoria University of Wellington

Old Government Buildings

55 Lambton Quay




For catering purposes, please RSVP to Dawn Magner via email at dawn@maniapoto.co.nz or call 0800 668 285.

Nau mai haere mai tātou katoa



Te Ture Whenua Māori Reform

The current reform is the most significant change to Māori land law in 20 years. It is the results of six years of consultation and a long conversation since 1998. Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill is currently in the Committee of the Whole House stage in Parliament.

The changes proposed in Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill and associated Bills will affect Māori land owners and their engagement with their whenua for generations to come. More than 3000 Māori land owners have participated in the development of this Bill along with whānau, Māori land trusts, Māori land incorporations and Māori Land Court judges.

The reform is underpinned by the pou, or principles, of mana motuhake (greater Māori land owner autonomy), whakawhanake (a greater ability by owners to use their land) and taonga tuku iho (protecting the ownership of Māori land for future generations).

You can check out the Progress of the Bill or find out more information on Te Ture Whenua Māori Reform.