The double-defending champions trailed 16-7 at the break after giving away a rash of penalties but drew level with tries by number eight Liam Messam and inside centre Charlie Ngatai.
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden converted Ngatai's try to give the Dave Rennie-coached Chiefs a two-point lead with 11 minutes to spare and the home side held firm to maintain their perfect start from two games in the season.
Flanker John Hardie crossed for the Highlanders' only try in the 31st minute after winger Tim Nanai-Williams scored the Chiefs' first five-pointer in the 10th minute.
Highlanders fly-half Lima Sopoaga kicked well to finish with 14 points from four penalties and a conversion. The Highlanders are 1-1 after their first two games in the southern hemisphere competition.
- Sports & Recreation
- Liam Messam
- Aaron Cruden