The Waring function $g(k,q)$ measures the difficulty of Waring's problem for $k$th powers in the field of $q$ elements. Its calculation seems to be difficult, and many partial results have been published, notably upper bounds for certain regions of the $k$-$q$-plane. In this paper, we compute the exact value of $g(k,q)$ for two infinite families of exponent-field pairs. In these, $k$ is large compared to $q$. We use a new method of proof that is mainly combinatorial in nature.