Story: Traditional Māori warfare – Riri

Mataika, first fish

Mataika, first fish

The first person slain during a battle was known as the mataika, which meant the first fish – though the term literally means face of a fish. During the New Zealand wars a Te Arawa warrior, Metara, had a dream in which he saw a giant fish with his face. He took this to mean that he would be the mataika. He attempted to stay in the rear of the attack, but was still the first person shot in battle. Fortunately for him he survived.

Using this item

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection
Reference: Maui Pomare and James Cowan, Legends of the Maori. Auckland: Southern Reprints, 1987

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How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Traditional Māori warfare – Riri - Preparations and entering into battle', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 May 2024)

Story by Basil Keane, published 20 Jun 2012