Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi was opened in 1992 and officially became a Wānanga in 1997. Awanuiārangi is one of only three institutions designated as Wānanga under the Education Act 1989.
The formation of Awanuiārangi was an important step, which recognised the role of education in providing positive pathways for Māori development. Since, that time the institution has offered a range of qualifications, from community education programmes to Certificates and Diplomas, and on to Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees.
The name Awanuiārangi is linked to the whakapapa (genealogy) of the Mataatua canoe, which landed at Whakatāne. Many tribal groups claim descent from the Mataatua canoe and the ancestor Awanuiārangi. Among them are Te Whanau-ā-Apanui, Whakatōhea, Tuhoe, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Whare.
Although Awanuiārangi has strong links to the people of Mataatua, its doors of learning have always been open to all iwi and all New Zealanders.
Awanuiārangi also recognises that our aspirations are linked to and expressed by other indigenous people throughout the world. We acknowledge a common experience for tangata whenua and indigenous people everywhere.