The terms Ngāti Whātua-whānui or Ngāti Whātua-tūturu – meaning ‘wider’ or ‘true’ Ngāti Whātua – refer to the confederation of four tribes occupying the lands between the Hokianga Harbour and Tāmaki (Auckland). The tribes are Te Roroa, Te Uri-o-Hau, Te Taoū and Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei. The shorter title of Ngāti Whātua is sometimes used to describe both the wider confederation and the fourth member group. While it is tempting to think of the four groups as hapū (clans or descent groups) of a single iwi (tribe), each is actually an independent tribe that can act with others or independently.⠀
The Ngāti Whātua tribes share a common heritage. They are descended from the ancestor Tuputupuwhenua (sometimes known as Tumutumuwhenua). Each tribe is affiliated with the Māhuhu-ki-te-rangi canoe, which landed on the west coast between Kaipara Harbour and the Hokianga. And they share links with the ancestors who migrated from Muriwhenua and intermarried with, and then subsumed, groups living in the region the tribes occupy today. The rohe of Ngāti Whātua is traditionally expressed as Tāmaki ki Maunganui i te Uru and Tāmaki ki Manaia i te Rāwhiti.