Story: Te whānau puha – whales



This work was created by Todd Couper of the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe. The whale tail represents Tūtarakauika, a taniwha (water spirit) in the form of a whale, who accompanied the Tākitimu canoe on its voyage to New Zealand. When Ruawharo, the tohunga (priest) of Tākitimu, settled at Māhia Peninsula, he planted a mauri (life force) for the whales and fish. Ruawharo sent Tūtarakauika to act as a guardian for the chiefs of the Wairoa district. When canoes were capsized by storms, Tūtarakauika would take them back to shore.

Using this item

Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver
Carving by Todd Couper

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

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How to cite this page:

Bradford Haami, 'Te whānau puha – whales - Whales in Māori tradition', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 April 2024)

Story by Bradford Haami, published 12 Jun 2006