Te Wānanga o Raukawa arose from a joint effort of Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, known also as the ART Confederation. Te Wānanga o Raukawa aims to contribute to the Confederation and the wider community by producing skilled graduates who can move between the Māori and Pakeha worlds effortlessly. Their involvement will enhance the quality of decision-making on issues affecting the Confederation as well as on matters affecting the community at large.
The first of the major post-European initiatives of the ART Confederation involved the prominent church of the area, Rangiātea. Rangiātea was operational from 1850-1995 when it was consumed by fire and burnt to the ground. A programme of replication was undertaken and the new church building was opened in November 2003.
Key joint venture for the three iwi in the establishment of the Ōtaki Māori Racing Club.
At the turn of the century, the Confederation and the Anglican Church built the Ōtaki Māori College on land provided by the Confederation for education. Due to financial difficulties the Anglican leaders closed the school in 1938, after thirty years of operation. During that time the college provided education for many of the youth who were from the Confederation, including the baritone Inia te Wiata. Other youth from outside the Confederation included the Bishop Manuhuia Bennett and the Honourable Ben Couch.
ART built their “marae matua” (parent marae), named Raukawa, in Ōtaki. The Native Purposes Act (1936) allowed for the creation of the Raukawa Marae Trustees. This body of sixty-nine trustees represents the iwi and hapū of the Confederation. Accordingly and as a result of their representation the Trustees were tasked with administering the Confederation.
Another important venture of the Confederation was the creation of an educational trust board, called the Ōtaki and Porirua Trusts Board, to administer the land that was previously used by and for the Ōtaki Māori College.
The Raukawa Marae Trustees began a 25-year tribal development experiment, known as Whakatupuranga Rua Mano - Generation 2000. Te Wānanga o Raukawa was born out of this revival to assist ART to achieve its educational aspirations. The Raukawa Marae Trustees resolved to establish Te Wānanga o Raukawa in April 1981 for the advancement of knowledge and for the dissemination and maintenance of knowledge through teaching and research. The Raukawa Marae Trustees saw Te Wānanga o Raukawa as a natural and necessary extension of Whakatupuranga Rua Mano.
Repeated proposals were presented to the Crown in the late seventies and early eighties and only attracted lukewarm responses. Despite this, the development of a wānanga was given top priority by the Raukawa Marae Trustees. Te Wānanga o Raukawa became an incorporated body in 1984.
In 1993 Te Wānanga o Raukawa were recognised by the Crown as a “wānanga” under their new legislation known as the Education Amendment Act 1990. By this time Te Wānanga o Raukawa had been fully operational for over a decade.