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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



(c. 1350).

High priest and commander of Tainui canoe.

Hoturoa was born in Hawaiki, the son of Auauterangi and Kuotepo, and was distantly related to Tama te Kapua. According to Maori tradition Hoturoa was middle aged when he made the voyage to New Zealand. In Hawaiki he held his people aloof from the tribal skirmishes that preceded the migration, but when he learned that Turi and the others intended to leave the island, Hoturoa decided to follow suit. His canoe, Tainui, according to tribal tradition, made landfall at Whangaparaoa, near Cape Runaway. From there Tainui explored the coast northwards and sailed into Waitemata (Auckland) Harbour. He hauled the canoe across the isthmus to Manukau Harbour and then explored the west coast southwards. Some of the Tainui people settled at Whaingaroa (Raglan) Harbour, Kawhia, and at Mokau. The last party left on board – the Ngati Tara-pounamu – beached the Tainui at Te Waiiti. When he heard that the canoe had been abandoned, Hoturoa, who had settled at Kawhia, brought a party overland, refloated it, and sailed to Kawhia. There the Tainui was drawn up into a manuka grove below the shrine of Ahurei, and two stone pillars, set at either end, mark where it rested.

Hoturoa had two wives, Whakaoterangi and Marama, both of whom figure largely in the Tainui legend. The former is credited with beginning the cultivation of kumara in the new land.

Tainui tribes later spread over the area from the Mokau River to Manukau Harbour on the west coast and included the Waikato and King Country. Their boundary runs through Maungatautari (near Cambridge) to the Thames Valley and Coromandel Peninsula.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • The Coming of the Maori, Buck, P. (1958)
  • Tainui – the Story of Hoturoa and His Descendants, Kelly, L. G. (1949).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.