Waikato–Tainui was the first iwi to reach an historial Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown for injustices going back to the 1860s. The Deed of Settlement included cash and land valued at a total of $170 million.
In the 1850s, a movement was set up to appoint a Māori king who would unite the tribes, protect land from further sales and make laws for Māori to follow. Te Wherowhero became the first Māori king in 1858.
Tawhiao's father Potatau was the first Maori King, and on his death in 1860
Tawhiao inherited the kingship and the spiritual leadership of his
people. He was king for the next 34 years, including the
most turbulent period in New Zealand's race relations history.
In his recruitment waiata, 'Te ope tuatahi', Ngata made it clear that the replacement recruits that he and his colleagues had raised all came from the East Coast tribes of Mahaki, Hauiti, Ngati Porou, Te Arawa and Kahungunu.
Tawhiao, of the Tainui hapu (sub-tribe) Ngati Mahuta, was born at the end of the Musket Wars between Tainui and Ngāpuhi. He was a Christian, was well versed in the ancient rites of the Tainui tribe, and had the status of a prophet.