The Ngāti Apa Iwi that is represented by this Rūnanga is a contemporary collective of people that brings together the various hapū of Ngā Wairiki (Mangawhero, Whangaehu and Turakina) and Rangitikei (traditionally extending to Oroua). These hapū are diverse, with mutually exclusive traditions and customs, but are bound by a more recent history of alliance and intermarriage, and the will of our tupuna who emphaised Ngāti Apa and defined this modern Iwi in terms of its lands and people.

Ngāti Kauae & Ngāti Tauira

These hapū historically occupied the area from Waipatiki in the north to Omarupapako in the south, and inland to Oroua. This includes most of the coastline from just north of the Rangitikei River mouth to a point north of the Manawatu River mouth. Kauae and Tauira are inseparable, as they are the descendants of Papawhenua who, in turn, descends from the prestigous lines of Kurahaupo whakapapa, from Whatonga, and utimately Toi. This hapū shares these ancient origins with hapū of Rangitāne and Muaūpoko. Despite these origins and traditions, intermarriages between these people and hapū inland on the Rangitīkei River, and north towards Turakina and Whangaehu created a strong bond with these lands and people of different origins, and ultimately lead to this hapū joining the Ngāti Apa alliance which took shape in the early 1800s. The principle kāinga of these hapū were at Parewānui and Te Awahou, on the Rangitīkei River, with settlements on the Oroua River also.

Ngā Uri o Tuariki

This was a large collective of people who once occupied the fertile plains of the Rangitīkei River from Makohine in the North to Takahanga Pounamu in the south. This hapū in particular emphasised the eponymouse ancestor, Apa-Hapai-Taketake. Principle settlements of this hapū included Te Houhou (Rata), Te Ana, Te Pohue and Te Ara Taumaihi (Bulls). This hapū extensively intermarried with the neighbrouing Rangitīkei hapū and with the Ngā Wairiki people of Whangaehu and Turakina. With colonisation, the lands of Tuariki were largely abandoned with these people concentrating at Takahanga Pounamu, next to Parewānui, or moving into other hapū areas where they had rights. Today this hapū does not function, but its interests are looked after by the other hapū of Ngāti Apa, and by the Rūnanga.

Ngā Ariki

This hapū occupied the coastal strip north of Waipatiki, to Herewahine, a sandhill roughly halfway between the Whangaehu and Turakina River Mouths. The Tini Waitara Marae has surived as a cultural haven for this hapū, and as a reminder of the extensive settlement and cultivation which once covered the productive lands that surround this Marae. Ngā Ariki ancestors described Tamarehe as their ancestor through whom their land rights are derived. He was said to have settled in this location having migrated there from South Taranaki. Ngā Āriki is a Ngā Wairiki and Ngāti Apa hapū.

Ngāti Rangiwhakaturia me Ngā Uri o Taitapu

This hapū occupied the lands at the mouth of the Whangaehu River extending from Herewahine north west to Motukaraka. Motukaraka is a boundary area that was confirmed by Whanganui and Whangaehu Rangatira in 1846. The Whangaehu Marae is the base for this hapū. Rangiwhakaturia and Taitapu ware brother and sister. They are direct descendants of Turi and Rongorongo of the Aotea waka, through the Turangaimua line. This was a large hapū with the principle kainga being Waiharakeke, Tirotiro and Otauira on the Whangaehu River, and several kāinga inland of Ngā Ariki on the Turakina River. This hapū is also a Ngā Wairiki and Ngāti Apa hapū, and as such is intermarried and strongly connected to other Ngā Wairiki hapū as well as the Rangitikei based hapū.

Ngā Wairiki ki Uta

This hapū collective covers a large area from Manuriro, at the top of the Ruatanga Road, inland to Paratieki, Heao and Maungakaretu. Kauangaroa stands as the surviving Marae for this hapū. The principle kāinga for this hapū had been Akerama, Matatera and Kauangaroa, amongst others. In the late 1800s, this particular hapū collective adopted the political identity of Ngā Wairiki, and preferred to be called this rather than Ngāti Apa, a situation which still exists to this day. The whakapapa of this hapū emphasises Paerangi as a principle ancestor. The ancient origins of this hapū are therefore shared with many hapū of Ngāti Rangi and Whanganui. Intertribal warfare, geographic separation from other Paerangi hapū and extensive intermarriage with other Ngā Wairiki and Rangitīkei hapū combined to lead this hapū to join the Ngāti Apa Iwi that formed in the early 1800s.
These hapū are characterised by their ancestors and hapū rangatira historically being fiercely proud of their own hapū identity and authority over their lands and other resources. The Ngāti Apa Iwi that formed in the 1830's was created to benefit these hapū, and this theme of emphasising hapū identity and autonomy is etched into the kaupapa of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa today.