People of Waikato

The Waikato is the fourth largest region by population in New Zealand. This page will recommend where you can go to find out the histories of its people.

Close up black and white photo of Princess Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi.

Princess Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi by by [unknown]. Collection: Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: PAColl-5584-58

Which people can I learn about?

Here are some people related to Waikato you could find out about:

Tainui Waka

Tainui Waka
Carried tūpuna to New Zealand. Descendants started the tribes of Waikato, Hauraki, Maniapoto and Raukawa.

Find out about Tainui Waka
Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (1770-1860)

Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (1770-1860)
First Māori King.

Find out about Pōtatau Te Wherowhero
Tāwhiao (1822-1894)

Tāwhiao (1822-1894)
Second Māori King and seen as a great visionary. Reigned during the War in Waikato.

Find out about Tāwhiao
Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu (1931-2006)

Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu (1931-2006)
Longest serving Māori monarch.

Find out about Te Atairangikaahu
The 28th Māori Battalion

The 28th Māori Battalion
Group of infantry (foot soldiers) in World War 2. Also known as the Māori Battalion. Included Māori men from Waikato.

Find out about the 28th Māori Battalion
4th Waikato Militia Regiment (1864-1874)

4th Waikato Militia Regiment (1864-1874)
This regiment founded the city of Hamilton.

Find out about the 4th Waikato Militia Regiment

Tips: These are just some examples of people you could research. You may have someone different you're interested in finding out about. Just use their name as your search terms in the resources below.

Local iwi:

Note: Iwi are listed in alphabetical order. This list was put together to the best of our knowledge. If there are any other iwi to be included, please let us know.

Waikato resources

Here are some local collections and websites that you could use to find out about the people of Waikato.

Hamilton City Libraries Heritage Collections

This collection has books, journals, magazines, memorabilia, oral history, and more about the culture and history of Hamilton.

  • Enter a name as a keyword in the search bar.

  • Use Refine results to get fewer items.

  • For example choose an Object type like a photograph.

  • Select an item to find out more.

  • If you can't look at an item online, you can see them on level 3 of Hamilton's Central Library.

Waikato Museum

Waikato Museum's Online Collections and Stories are a great place to find information and photographs of events that happened in Kirikiriroa Hamilton and the wider district of Waikato.

  • You can select to view items from Featured Collections or look down the page to enter your keyword in the search bar.

  • Use Refine results to get fewer items.

  • Select an item to find out more.

Neherā | The University of Waikato Digital Collections

Neherā has photographs, postcards, maps and posters. You can search or browse them online.

  • Enter your keyword into the search bar.

  • Use Refine results to get fewer items.

  • For example, choose a Format type like letters.

  • Select an item to find out more.

Waikato Tainui

This is the website for Waikato Tainui iwi. Tainui Waka carried voyaging tūpuna (ancestors) whose descendants settled the lands of the Tainui Waka rohe. Over time they became the tribes of Waikato, Hauraki, Maniapoto and Raukawa.

  • Select About us then History.

  • Or go to Resources then Taku Taioretanga and browse the videos for people.

  • Videos are in te reo Māori with English subtitles.

Waikato Regional Council

The Waikato Regional Council looks after the Waikato region's environment, resources, and transport. They have a page with details about the principle iwi groups in the region.

  • Select Community and then under Your Community find Iwi.

  • Then choose Iwi in our region.

  • This page has links to different iwi group websites which have information on their history and contact details.

Hamilton City Libraries | Discover Stories and Articles

Explore Hamilton's heritage blog through research articles and more.

  • Look to the bottom of the page to navigate the different blog entries.

  • You can also select Camera Obscura for featured images.

  • Go to Stories of Hamilton to read about different places and events and people in Hamilton.

General New Zealand resources

These websites have good information about the history of New Zealand including Waikato.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

This website, which is part of Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand has over 3,000 biographies of New Zealanders.

  • Enter the name of a person into the search bar to find articles.

  • Or to browse for people from Waikato go to Advanced Biographies search.

  • Use the filters eg region.

  • Select Apply to find biographies.

Tips: DNZB belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable. The other thing to keep in mind is that DNZB does not include people who are alive.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. Here you will find the history of Waikato before and after the arrival of Europeans, and how colonisation impacted the Waikato region. There's is also excellent information available regarding Waikato's people, environment, history and culture.

  • Search for the name of a person and group of people.

  • For example, you can enter the keyword 'Kīngitanga' in the search box. You will see a list of stories, images and biographies in the results.

  • Explore the story Origins of the Kīngitanga to read how the movement began, and links to Māori kings over the years.

28th Māori Battalion

The 28th (Māori) Battalion was made up of mainly Māori who were keen to serve New Zealand during the Second World War. The website was put together to record, remember and honor their services.

  • Enter 'Waikato' in the search tab to find information on soldiers who were residing in Waikato at the time of enlistment.

  • The Interactive Map traces the movement of the battalion from the time it left New Zealand until the time of their return.

  • We recommend you explore the Resources section to find out more about the role of the 28th during WW2.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more.

Royal Society Te Apārangi | 150 Women in 150 Words

Biographies of 150 New Zealand women whose contributions expanded our knowledge of different sciences.

  • Enter the name of a person into the search bar to find articles.

  • Or browse the webpage to find someone you are interested in for your research.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About this site link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.


DigitalNZ searches online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites in one place. It groups results by the type of information and has lots of primary sources.

  • Enter the name of a person or group of people in the search bar.

  • You can get fewer results by choosing the type of resource you'd like eg Images, Videos, and More.

  • Choose something to take a closer look.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Make your searches simple. Less words is better. Use names like 'Tāwhiao' for images and more.


NZHistory is a great website for information about topics, events, people and places in Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter the name of a person or group of people in the search bar to find biographies and articles.

  • Choose an article to read.

Papers Past

Papers Past is a searchable collection of early New Zealand newspapers (19th and 20th centuries), letters, diaries, magazines, books and Parliamentary Papers digitised by the National Library of New Zealand and partners.

  • Select Newspapers.

  • Use search words like the name of the person or something they were involved in to find a range of articles reported in newspapers from around the country.

  • You can use the Filter on the right to limit to a region or date.

  • Use the same search to find information in Magazines and Journals, Letters and Diaries and

    Parliamentary Papers.

  • Each collection has tools and guidelines to help you refine your search if you need to.

Tips: When coming up with keywords, think of how things may have been written in a newspaper of the time. There may be different spellings, they may use different words, and they might not use tohutō (macrons) eg ā.


These books are available from Hamilton City Libraries. Some of these books are not for loan, which means you can browse the books at the Central Library.

More about Waikato

Places of Waikato

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about important historical places in Kirikiriroa | Hamilton and wider Waikato.

Learn about places of Waikato

Events of Waikato

Waikato, known for its rich, fertile farmland, was the scene of significant battles during the Land Wars of the mid-19th century. Find out how to explore these histories and more.

Learn about events of Waikato