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People or other sources of knowledge provide information about water safety and can be found in oral narratives such as pūrākau (stories), karakia (incantations), mōteatea (chants), whakataukī (proverbs) and pepeha (tribal sayings). Click on areas of the map of Aotearoa for sources of information relevant to those areas.



The story of Tinarau and Kae

This is a dramatic tale of treachery and revenge involving the chief Tinirau, his pet whale, Tutunui, and Tinirau's sinister guest, Kae. The story reveals the complex relationship that Māori have with whales. Read More

Legends of the Māori by Maui Pomare

Written by the great Maui Pomare, this book contains Māori history, mythology and folk lore, as well as poetry and stories of old New Zealand. Read More

Kupe and te Wheke a Muturangi

According to the narratives, Kupe pursued an octopus known as Te Wheke a Muturangi from Hawaiiki to Aotearoa. After a long pursuit, Kupe killed Te Wheke a Muturangi in the Cook Strait and its eyes were placed upon the isles known as The Brothers. This place is considered tapu as considered a popular landmark among Māori when travelling to the South Island. Read more

The story of Hūria Mātenga and the part she played in a sea rescue 

In 1863, on the night of 3–4 September, the brig Delaware ran into a storm and was thrown onto the rocks at the foot of the cliffs at Whakapuaka. Huria Matenga, her husband and three other men saw the difficulties of the crew and came to help. Read More

Tuia 250 

Tuia – Encounters 250 commemorates the 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Pākehā in 1769–70. It also celebrates the voyaging heritage of Pacific people that led to the settlement of Aotearoa New Zealand many generations before. Read More



The Treaty of Waitangi

Te Tiriti o Waitangi was first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and Māori chiefs (rangatira) from the North Island of New Zealand. It has become a document of central importance to the history, to the political constitution of the state, and to the national mythos of New Zealand, and has played a major role in framing the political relations between New Zealand's government and the Māori population. Read More


Ngāpuhi is the largest tribe in New Zealand. Their heartland lies at Te Tai Tokerau (the northern tide) in the far north. The territory stretches west to east from Hokianga Harbour to the Bay of Islands, and southward to Maunganui Bluff and Whāngārei. The arrival of the Polynesian navigator Kupe in the Matawhaorua canoe is legendary in the history of Ngāpuhi. Read More

Kupe ki te Hokianga 

According to some tribal narratives, Kupe was the first Polynesian to discover the islands of New Zealand. His journey there was triggered by difficulties with fishing in Hawaiki, his homeland. The arrival of Kupe is of great importance to Aotearoa. Read More



Korero o Nehera 

Long ago the land that lay between the Waitakere ranges and the Hunua ranges was quite flat. There were no volcanoes present as there are today. The great canoes had not yet arrived in Aotearoa so nobody lived in this beautiful land. Well, nobody human, lived here only the Patupaiarehe. Read More

Iwi in Tamaki-makau-rau 

The Māori name for Auckland is Tāmaki. None of the voyaging canoes that migrated from Polynesia found their resting place in Tāmaki, although several visited the bays and isthmus, and left settlers who remained in the area. Read More



He piko he taniwha 

The Waikato River is New Zealand’s longest. There are numerous traditions concerning the river. A well-known tribal proverb about the Waikato tribes refers to the taniwha (mythical water spirit) dwelling in the river. These taniwha represent a chief or person of tremendous influence. The expression underlines the mana of the Waikato people. Read More

Tainui waka

In Māori tradition, Tainui was one of the great ocean-going canoes in which Polynesians migrated to New Zealand approximately 800 years ago. The Tainui waka was named for an infant who did not survive childbirth. At the burial site of this child, at a place in Hawaiki known then as Maungaroa, a great tree grew; this was the tree that was used to build the ocean canoe. Read More


Bay of Plenty 

Te Arawa waka

In Māori mythology, Arawa was one of the great ocean-going, voyaging canoes that was used in the migrations that settled Aotearoa. The Te Arawa confederation of Māori iwi and hapu based in the Rotorua and Bay of Plenty areas of New Zealand trace their ancestry from this waka. Read More

Tutanekai & Hinemoa

The Maori love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai has been told around the shores of Lake Rotorua for centuries. It tells of the illegitimate young chief Tutanekai of Mokoia Island and his high-born paramour, Hinemoa, whose family forbade her from marrying him. Read More



The story of Paikea and Ruatapu 

There once lived in Hawaiki a chief called Uenuku, who had seventy-one sons. Seventy of these sons were chiefs, for their mothers were of noble birth. But Uenuku had one wife who was a slave, and because of this, her son Ruatapu was of no importance. One day Uenuku decided to build a great canoe. Read More

Ruatepupuke and the origin of carving

The story of the discovery of whakairo (wood carving) from under the sea is famous in Māori tradition. It tells of the imprisonment of Te Manuhauturuki, the son of Ruatepupuke. Read More


In Several Maori traditions, the Horouta and the Takitimu, were two of the great migration waka which brought Polynesian migrants to New Zealand from Hawaiki. Read More


Whanga-nui-a Tara  

The story of Kahe Te Rauoterangi

Kahe Te Rauoterangi became renowned for her seven mile swim from Kapiti to Te Uruhi on the mainland, with a child, Makere, strapped to her back, to raise the alarm when Ngati Toa were attacked by a war party from the south. Read More

The adventure of Hinepoupou and how she swam the Cook Strait

Long ago two adventurous men named Manihinihi-pounamu and Hikuparoa, the grandchildren of the chief Anu-ki-Ontario, of Taranaki, crossed the sea to Rangitoto (D’Urville Island). They both fell in love with Hinepoupou, the most beautiful woman of those parts, and they both resolved to wed her. Read More


Te Waipounamu 

Ngāi Tahu

Ngāi Tahu, or Kāi Tahu, is the principal Māori iwi (tribe) of the southern region of New Zealand. Its takiwā (tribal area) is the largest in New Zealand, and extends from White Bluffs / Te Parinui o Whiti (southeast of Blenheim), Mount Mahanga and Kahurangi Point in the north to Stewart Island in the south. Read More

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