Te Rarawa Manawhenua
From the time following the emergence of Te Rarawa as a confederation of hapū and prior to the arrival of tauiwi in Aotearoa, Te Rarawa was an autonomous, self-governing and independent Iwi. Tribal traditions and histories, and the formation of relationships that fashioned and sustained „boundaries‟ between whānau, hapū and iwi, cannot be surveyed and divided in the same way as land. The boundaries of Te Rarawa are characterised by fluid relationships with their neighbours. Te Rarawa‟s „boundaries‟ as such are located in the history of deep and textured tribal narratives rather than the somewhat shallow approach of a block-specific focus. Te Rarawa‟s mana over its territory does not terminate at a given line, instead, its boundaries are where the influence of whānau, hapū and iwi meet and merge.
Te Rarawa exercised tino rangatiratanga as tangata whenua generally in the areas beginning from Hokianga, eastwards following the Hokianga River to Mangataipa, situated at the base of Maungataniwha northwards along the ranges of Raetea to Takahue and following down the Pamapuria River to Maimaru, across towards Awanui and westwards to Hukatere on Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē (Ninety-Mile Beach), back down the beach to Ahipara, southwards to Tauroa, Ōwhata and Whāngāpe and down the coastline to Mitimiti and back to Hokianga, being the southern boundary of Te Rarawa
Te Rarawa‟s traditional systems of land tenure were based on mana tūpuna (ancestral right) and ahikāroa (continuous occupation). These systems could accommodate multiple and overlapping interests and were responsive to complex and fluid customary land usages. Hapū held land rights. Rangatira controlled land use, provided for whānau and hapū occupation and protected the resources for future generations. Hapū and whānau exercised use rights from occupation. Establishing and maintaining relationships were a key factor in this system. Outsiders could only enjoy rights given by the rangatira including land usage. Such rights depended on ongoing occupation and conformity to local tikanga.