For Indigenous peoples, and Māori specifically, storytelling and oral history are crucial to the survival of our collective identities, culture and language. Retold across generations, our stories are often explicit and interwoven narratives of personal and collective memories. Drawing on Native American scholar Gerald Vizenor’s (2009) concept of “survivance stories”, this article explores a set of three oral history narratives of kaumātua from Ngāti Tiipa, one of the 33 iwi and hapā of the Waikato-Tainui confederation. Our analysis reveals how enduring connections to the river and land, the retention of whānau practices and the intergenerational transmission of tüpuna names have shaped contemporary expressions of Ngāti Tiipa identity and belonging. We explore how these testimonies reveal survivance as a repeated theme that has its own nuanced interpretation in individual and collective tribal oral stories.