The Ngāi Tai tribe, descended from the people of the Tainui canoe, settled in Maraetai, Whitford and Howick Other Tainui descendants were Te Kawerau-a-Maki. This group lived under forest cover in the Waitākere and controlled land as far north as the Kaipara, across to Mahurangi and down to Takapuna.
The Ngāti Te Ata tribe was based south of the Manukau at Waiuku. Along the coast from Whangaparāoa to the Thames estuary was Ngāti Pāoa, a Hauraki tribe. 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.
Ngati Poaoa iwi
Between 1740 and 1750 Ngāti Whātua-o-Kaipara moved south, invading the isthmus and killing Kiwi Tāmaki, paramount chief of Wai-o-Hua. They then took his last pā at Māngere.
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.