Story: Te Arawa

Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua

Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua

Originally known as Te Motu-tapu-a-Tinirau, this island can be reached by a short boat trip from Rotorua township. Mokoia has fertile soil, and Te Arawa made good use of this to cultivate kūmara (sweet potato). The island’s present name, Mokoia, alludes to the death of Arorangi at the hands of Uenukukōpako, whose weapon was a kō, or digging stick. The death blow caught Arorangi across his tattooed forehead. From the words moko (tattoo) and kō (digging stick) comes the name Mokoia.

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Photograph by Peter Morrison

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How to cite this page:

Paora Tapsell, 'Te Arawa - Settlement and migration', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 June 2024)

Story by Paora Tapsell, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Mar 2017