Our Story


What we are talking about here is the river in its wholeness, Te Mana, Te Mauri, Te Ihi, Te Tapu, Te Wehi; its waters, its fish, its bed, its water life, its tributaries and the tino rangatiratanga of the iwi of Whanganui over the river held by them since first occupation, never ever relinquished and repeatedly asserted.

Sir Archie Te Atawhai Taiaroa (Ngāti Haua),
Chair of the Whanganui River Māori Trust Board 1991 - 2010,
evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal in the Wai 167 claim

Te Awa Tupua

The Whanganui River has long been a source of physical and spiritual sustenance for Whanganui hapū and Iwi. Since time immemorial, we have held an inalienable connection and relationship with the Awa.

For more than 100 years, our people have fought to protect and provide for our special relationship with the Whanganui River, in the face of adverse acts by the Crown.

The Government has a process to work through Crown breaches of our founding document Te Tiriti o Waitangi and in 2014, Whanganui Iwi and the Crown signed Ruruku Whakatupua, the Deed of Settlement for the Whanganui River.

The signing of Ruruku Whakatupua was a momentous day for the Iwi - signalling the Crown’s recognition for the first time of both the Whanganui River as an indivisible and metaphysical whole and the inalienable relationship we have with our River.

The enduring concept of Te Awa Tupua - the inseparability of the people and River - underpins the desire of Whanganui Iwi to care for, protect, manage and use the Whanganui River through the kawa maintained by our tūpuna and their descendants. 

Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui is the post-settlement governance entity for Whanganui Iwi for the purpose of the Whanganui River Settlement and was established that same year. We are the continuation of a long journey that our ancestors began all those years ago.

Ko Au te Awa - A Story of Our Journey
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Whanganui River Claimants

The original Whanganui River Claimants. Back row, from left to right: Kaiwhare Kiriona, Tanginoa Tapa, Tekiira Peina, Tonga Tume, Hohepa Hekenui, Henare Keremeneta. Middle row: Te Rama Whanarere, Hekenui Whakarake, D G B Morison, Titi Tihu, Tonga Awhikau. Front row: Taka-te-iwa Anderson, Kahukiwi Whakareke. Ref: PAColl-24 Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

Find out more about us

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Historical Journey

Over a century’s effort by Whanganui hapū and Iwi to protect and provide for our special relationship with the Whanganui River

Ranana Lady Marth Taiaroa v2
Ruruku Whakatupua

At the heart of the Deed of Settlement for the Whanganui River is the legal recognition of Te Awa Tupua, and the interconnectedness of the Whanganui River, its peoples and its resources

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Tupua Te Kawa

The natural law and value system of Te Awa Tupua that now guides all decision-making regarding the Whanganui River


Do you whakapapa to the Whanganui River? Would you and your whānau like to be registered on the Whanganui Iwi Database? What does that mean?

It means that you get sent pānui and updates on kaupapa related to the Whanganui River and Te Awa Tupua, the people and the river from the Mountains to the Sea. You can also apply for the different grants that are advertised on our website and facebook page.

If you are already on the database and need to up date your details please head to the database or send us an email at office@ngatangatatiaki.co.nz