Connection to land through whakapapa is premised on mana inherited at birth from the atua. These fundamental principles have supported land claims in the Native Land Court since 1865 and were of importance to Ngāti Kahungunu women in the late 19th century. Yet, exactly how whakapapa and mana informed cases for wāhine Māori has been difficult to examine, due to the omnipresent patriarchal workings of the Native Land Court and its comprehension of customary principles. This article highlights the interconnected relationship between whakapapa and mana, wāhine Māori and the Native Land Court in Hawke’s Bay and adds to a more balanced gendered scholarship of the Native Land Court. I argue that the power of whakapapa and mana transcended into a Western infrastructure of land legislation and management—one of the first times these two systems of law had to intersect. Furthermore, for a small period in New Zealand’s nation-building histories, the Native Land Court respected these principles and also provided a platform for Māori women to become equal players in the management and distribution of tribal lands within a European legal framework. Yet, wāhine Māori involvement in tribal land affairs was not uncommon in Māori society because of whakapapa and mana. Centring wāhine Māori is vital to tribal narratives and history more broadly, but also in tracing the intersections of gendered roles in traditional Māori society, and European society, which was dependent on colonial patriarchal operations upheld by the Native Land Court.