Rangitāne as a distinct tribal grouping trace their origins back to the arrival of the waka Kurahaupo. Whatonga, grandson of Toi Te Huatahi, was one of the captains of this waka.
Whatonga had a son to Hotuwaipara called Tara Ika (ancestor of Ngai Tara), he had another son Tautoki to his second wife Reretua. Tautoki in time had a son whom he called Tanenuiarangi but who also went by the name Rangitāne. It was this person that became the eponymous ancestor of the Rangitāne iwi.
The descendants of Rangitāne were among the earliest people to occupy both the Tamaki Nui a Rua and Wairarapa regions. They assumed mana whenua and occupied the Wairarapa, Tamaki Nui a Rua and southern Hawkes Bay districts.
There were many hapū resident here but the two main hapū were Ngāti Hāmua in the Wairarapa and Te Rangiwhakaewa in Tamaki Nui a Rua.
These hapū had a number of sub-hapū and in the case of Ngāti Hāmua came to be recognised as an iwi in its own right.
Their occupation was undisturbed for a number of generations. Other iwi migrated to the area including hapū with links to Kahungunu.