Story: First peoples in Māori tradition

Toikairākau meeting house

Toikairākau meeting house

This meeting house is at Waikirikiri marae, Rūātoki, in the northern Urewera, and is named after the early Polynesian settler Toi. Toi appears in many North Island tribal genealogies, often as the earliest ancestor living in New Zealand when many canoes arrive. One of his extended names is Toikairākau (Toi the eater of trees): there were no kūmara (sweet potatoes) in New Zealand when he lived there, and he had to make do with fern roots. These traditions depict Toi as a pioneering figure who had to rough it without the usual Polynesian staples such as kūmara and, in some versions, without fire.

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Photograph by Rangi McGarvey

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How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'First peoples in Māori tradition - Toitehuatahi', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 March 2023)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005