The Treaty of Waitangi protected Māori rights which included fishery rights. However, over the years these rights were significantly diminished. To resolve this treaty grievance an accord was reached. Initially the Crown transferred 10 percent of New Zealand’s fishing quota together with shareholdings in fishing companies and $50 million in cash, to the Waitangi Fisheries Commission. It was charged with holding the fisheries assets on behalf of Māori until an agreement was reached as to how the assets were to be shared among tribes. In 1992, the Sealords deal marked full and final settlement of Māori commercial fishing claims. It was worth around $170 million and included 50% of Sealord Fisheries and 20% of all new species brought under the quota system, shares in fishing companies, and $18 million. The allocation of assets took a further eight years after the Sealord settlement to determine.
Te Rūnanga o Raukawa became the negotiating body for Ngāti Raukawa rights in these fisheries negotiations, with a fisheries committee led by Iwikatea Nicholson, Whatarangi Winiata, Mark Whāmārō Kiriona and Dennis Emery who joined this group as Chief Executive.
Ngāti Raukawa was required under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004 to establish a mandated Iwi organisation so it could receive Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement assets.
On the 11 March 2007 the iwi agreed to set up such a body. This was confirmed at an annual general meeting of Te Rūnanga o Raukawa. it was resolved to set up an organisation to receive the assets and manage them on behalf of the iwi.
Raukawa ki te Tonga Trust is this body, and was ratified in September 2010.