The Ngāi Tai tribe, descended from the people of the Tainui canoe, settled in Maraetai, Whitford, and Howick. The dominant power on the Tāmaki isthmus was Wai-o-Hua, a federation of tribes formed under Hua-O-Kaiwaka and linked to the Te Arawa tribe Ngā Oho.
From the early 18th century the Ngāti Pāoa people edged their way into the Hauraki Gulf and as far north as Mahurangi. Between 1740 and 1750 Ngāti Whātua-o-Kaipara moved south, invading the isthmus and killing Kiwi Tāmaki, paramount chief of Wai-o-Hua.
The conquerors secured their dominance of the isthmus by intermarrying with Ngā Oho, descendants of the Wai-o-Hua. There followed a period of cautious peace in which Ngāti Pāoa’s conflict with Ngāpuhi tribes in the north made the Tāmaki tribes vulnerable to attack.