For centuries Maori practiced their ancient custom whereby all members of the tribe shared a collective interest in the land. This varied in contrast to the European’s individual land ownership model. Archival records from around 1815 to 1839 identify the Maori Leaders Hone Heke Pokai, Peia, Tuhirangi, Marupo, Te Kemara, Waraki and others as being involved in title arrangements with William Hall, Thomas Kendall and James Busby. These were pre-treaty  exchanges between two cultures. The core issue under investigation today is determining whether these pre-treaty title arrangements occurred in accordance with Maori Tribal Lore or European Law. A wide combination of Maori and Pakeha interest groups are aiming to settle and agree upon what transpired back then whilst simultaneously developing workable solutions that satisfies all parties on how this land should be managed now and into the future. However, in the interim, the local Maori tribes still maintain that their traditional whakapapa connection is the source of their inter-generational custodianship rights over the land. This particular tribal claim to custodianship has never been extinguished due to an ever enduring period of peace prevailing over this land from 1840 right up to 2016.
In 1932, the Governor General of New Zealand, Lord Bledisloe, gifted the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to the nation and via an Act of Parliament constituted a governance structure, the Waitangi National Trust Board, to administer the estate. Part of the Bledisloe gift included the Waitangi Endowment Forest. The network of Waitangi Mountain Bike Park trails weave in and out of the Waitangi Endowment Forest which is currently under the management of the Department of Conservation.