Tā Tīpene O’Regan was NPM's longest serving Board Chair before his retirement at the end of 2018, guiding the centre through 12 years of its operations. He is best known more widely for his role as Chairman of the Ngaitahu Maori Trust Board leading the Ngāi Tahu Claim process before the Waitangi Tribunal culminating in the Ngāi Tahu Settlement. He served on the board for 22 years, and was chair for thirteen of those years. As the chief negotiator, Te Kerēme (the Ngāi Tahu Claim) was his main kaupapa. He was a major architect and negotiator of the Treaty of Waitangi fisheries settlements of 1989 and 1992, he was also the founding Chairman of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission.

Tīpene is the retired Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori of the University of Canterbury, a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Directors and held a 28 year term on the New Zealand Geographic Board. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Canterbury, Lincoln and Victoria University of Wellington and has published and lectured extensively over many years on Ngāi Tahu traditional history, Polynesian migration, Treaty issues and the evolution of biculturalism.

Tā Tīpene was appointed as an NPM Ruānuku in October 2019.