The Tūhono initiative was developed and promoted by the Tautoko Māori Trust (TMT) committee which was set up in 1997. Initially, TMT comprised of Sir Paul Reeves, chairman, the late Bishop Manuhuia Bennett (Dr Terry Ryan joined the committee prior to the passing of Bishop Bennett in December 2001), Hon Koro Wetere, Druis Barrett and Dan Te Kanawa.
At the request of the TMT and after years of consultation, the government amended the Electoral Act 1993 in 2002. This amendment allows the Chief Registrar of Electors to seek permission from declared Māori voters (on both the Māori and general roll) to have their enrolment details and iwi affiliation shared with a central Māori organisation, and for these details to be passed on to the affiliated iwi organisations.
In December 2003, the Tautoko Māori Trust (TMT) was formally incorporated, with its current trustees being Sir Paul Reeves, chairman, Hon Koro Wetere, Druis Barrett, Dr Terry Ryan and Dr Wharehuia Milroy. TMT’s operational unit, the Māori Affiliation Service (MAS), was named 'Tūhono', a word meaning connect or link, which has deep spiritual meaning for Māori. The Tūhono service has been recognised by the government as the organisation to receive the electoral information of Māori voters.
In early 2004, Tūhono mounted a nationwide programme to seek the consent of declared Māori voters to release their details (name, address and date of birth) and their iwi affiliation details to their selected iwi. This was to establish and maintain up-to-date iwi registers through the Tūhono network. 100,000 Māori responded.
The first Tūhono website was launched to provide the 100,000 Tūhono registrants to access and update their information online. Registrants were also able to go online and help register whānau members directly over the internet.
In 2006, Tūhono achieved iwi representation on the Trust Board of all 9 regions including Taitokerau, Tainui, Mataatua, Te Arawa, Porourangi, Tākitimu, Hauāuru, Te Moana o Raukawa and Te Waipounamu/Rekohu. During this year, Tūhono also launched an Executive Website (www.tuhono.org) to help build the capacity of all Authorised User Organisations. This website enabled iwi to securely access their Tūhono affiliate database 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the internet.
On the 10 September 2009, a new Tūhono web service that automatically updates member's details directly to an iwi’s database was launched in Gisborne. Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou – representing New Zealand’s second largest iwi – was the first of 84 mandated iwi organisations across the country to take advantage of the Tūhono web service. Tūhono accesses information fed into the Electoral Enrolment Centre daily by the Ministry of Transport, NZ Transport Agency, NZ Post Office and Department of Internal Affairs.
Changes in the electoral regulations increased the number of Authorised User Organisations (iwi organisations) from 74 to 120. This meant that Tūhono registrants were able to (with their permission) allow new iwi organisations to access their electoral information.
In March 2013, Tūhono launched it's new Sitecore website (CMS System) to allow Tūhono registrants to build their whānau community.
In July 2016, Tūhono launched its new CRM system, Salesforce which allows parents to list their young children as part of their Tūhono profile.