Te Whakakitenga o Waikato (formerly known as Te Kauhanganui) is the tribal authority which represents the people of Waikato-Tainui.

The role of Te Whakakitenga is to:

  • Uphold, support, strengthen and protect the Kiingitanga (which incorporates the principles of unity, the retention of the tribal base in collective ownership, and co-operation among peoples).
  • Protect, advance, develop and unify the interests of Waikato-Tainui.
  • Foster among the members of Waikato-Tainui the principles of whakaiti, rangimaarie and kia tuupato and other tikanga of Waikato-Tainui.
  • Achieve and support the existing and future settlements of the Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi and/or raupatu claims of Waikato-Tainui.
  • Act as trustee of the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust established by the Lands Trust Deed.
  • Act as trustee of the Waikato Raupatu River Trust established by the River Trust Deed.
  • Maintain the spirit and intent of the 1995 Deed of Settlement between Waikato-Tainui and the Crown, and the Trust Deeds.

The current governance structure was established following the 1995 Waikato Raupatu Claims Settlement and incorporates a democratic structure where marae hold a vital role.

Tribal members elect two members from their marae to represent them for three years on Te Whakakitenga o Waikato.

Officers of Te Whakakitenga o Waikato include a Chairman and Deputy Chairman who are elected to their positions by the members, who also elect 10 of their number to the executive committee, which is known as Te Arataura.

Te Arataura also includes the Kaahui Ariki representative, who is appointed by the Head of the Kaahui Ariki and serves at their discretion.