Story: Te Arawa



In Hawaiki, Houmaitawhiti and his sons Tamatekapua and Whakatūria became involved in a skirmish with the chief Uenuku, who was suffering from a boil. When Uenuku witnessed Houmaitawhiti’s pet dog Pōtaka Tawhiti eating his discarded bandage, he killed the dog and ate it. This was because according to traditional beliefs, the dog’s action was akin to eating Uenuku himself. In retaliation, Houmaitawhiti’s sons stole fruit from Uenuku’s tree. Warfare ensued. One son, Tamatekapua, looked to the sea’s horizon and decided it was time to leave. He built a canoe, chose a crew and sailed off, heading south of the setting sun. Houmaitawhiti, his father, stayed behind in Hawaiki. This carving is of Houmaitawhiti.

Using this item

Rotorua Museum of Art and History, Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa
Photograph by Paul Tapsell

Permission of Rotorua Museum of Art and History Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Paul Tapsell, 'Te Arawa - Origins', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 October 2021)

Story by Paul Tapsell, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 22 Mar 2017