Traditionally the eponymous ancestor of Ngāti Tara Tokanui and Ngāti Koi was Tara. Oral History records that he migrated from Maungatautari in the late 16th century and established pā and kāinga in and around the Paeroa township, the Hauraki Plains area, and through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi township.

Tara himself was the younger brother of Te Kauwahata and Tukorehu and they were the Great Grand Children of Raukawa. He was also a first cousin of Marutuahu.

The iwi name of Ngāti Tara Tokanui signifies the compact which was formed through the intermarriage between Te Awapu of Ngāti Tara and Te Rae of Ngāti Hako. The iwi Ngāti Tara also whakapapa to Marama (Ngamarama) through, firstly, her marriage to Hoturoa and, secondly, through Tarawa of Ngāti Hako and Ngamarama