One of the great outrigger canoes in which the ancestors of the Māori people came from Hawaiki to New Zealand. This canoe was the half of a great tree growing on the banks of the Waiharakeke in Hawaiki. Toto cut the tree down and made two canoes, one of which, the Aotea, he gave to his daughter Rongorongo, the wife of Turi; the second, the Matahōrua (or as some say the Matatūa), he gave to his other daughter Kura-maro-tini.
The Aotea was a double canoe like the Arawa, as were probably all the others, but no incidental reference has preserved an account of the fact. The chief Turi sailed with the Aota, taking with him the kind of sweet potato called kakau, stones of karaka berries, paratawhiti fern, perei (a plant resembling kumara); live edible rats in boxes; some pet pukeko, and some tame green parakeets. The Aotea sailed in company with another canoe called Te Ririno; they had a very rough passage, and had to put into the port of a small island in mid-ocean called Rangitahua. After performing some religious ceremonies they again started, but quarreled about the steering directions; Turi wishing to follow the advice of Kupe (who had told him about New Zealand) and go eastward, while the others insisted on going west. When the Ririno was lost on the reef at Taputapuātea, Turi had his own way, and steered eastward till he reached New Zealand. Turi settled at the Patea River, near Whanganui.
In the Aotea came ancestors of Ngarauru, Ngatiruanui, Ngatiapa, Rangitane, Ngatihau, Ngatimaru, and Moaupoko.
One of Turi's famous paddles in the Aotea was Kautuku-ki-te-rangi.
- Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, pp. 129 ff.
- Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 20.
- White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, pp. 2:177, 180.
This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.