TAMATEA-ARIKI-NUI (Tamatea the High Lord)
Archpriest, navigator, and captain of Takitimu canoe.
The canoe Takitimu left Hawaiki for New Zealand about A.D. 1350. It carried sacred relics and among its crew were those schooled in the old-time lore of Hawaiki. It arrived at the western end of Ninety-mile Beach at a place called Awanui and then travelled on round the island to the safe landlocked harbours of the East Coast. As Tamatea decided to stay at Tauranga, Tahu took charge of the canoe as it travelled on in search of greenstone.
When Tamatea had decided where to settle, he took to wife a descendant of the Toi people and acquired the name Tamatea-mai-tawhiti (Tamatea-from-a-distance). He was respected for his past accomplishments and died shortly after the birth of his son Rongokako.
With Tahu and other chiefs, the canoe proceeded to Wairoa (Hawke's Bay) where a skid fell off and was used as a tiki to adorn Kopu Para Para's home which, tradition has it, was named “Takitimu”. The canoe voyaged on to Wairarapa, where the priest Tupai settled, and then down the Westland coast to the Arahura River (between Greymouth and Hokitika) where they found greenstone.
The crew of the Takitimu became the ancestors of the Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungunu, and the Ngai Tahu tribe of the South Island.
by Robert Ritchie Alexander, M.A., DIP.ED.(N.Z.), B.T.(CALCUTTA), PH.D.(MINNESOTA), Teachers' Training College, Christchurch.
- Takitimu, Mitchell, J. H. (1944)
- The Story of Old Wairoa and the East Coast District, Lambert, T. (1925)
- Hawaiki – The Whence of the Maori, Smith, S. P. (1898).