Tūheitia was the father of Māhanga, the ancestor of Ngāti Māhanga, an important Tainui and Waikato tribe. Although renowned for his hospitality, Tūheitia was killed through trickery while out at sea. By supernatural means, Tūheitia became a taniwha (spiritual being) and came to reside in the Waipā River. In this carving, situated outside the Novotel Tainui hotel in Hamilton, Tūheitia is depicted with a fish-like tail, to signify his transformation into a taniwha.
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Photograph by Roberta McKelvey
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