One of the most celebrated canoes in the Migration to New Zealand. This canoe is said to have been built in Rarotonga, a place on the other side of Hawaiki (No tua atu i Hawaiki). It is doubtful if this is the island now known as Rarotonga, the canoe being made of totara, a tree which does not grow in the Hervey Islands. The name of the forest where the trees grew was Tawhiti-nui; and they were dragged down the river Hauhau to the sea. The builders are stated to have included in their number Rata, Wahieroa, Ngahue, and Parata.

It was the first canoe completed; then followed the Tainui, Matatūa, Takitūmu, Kura-hau-pō, Tokomaru, and Matahōrua. These canoes were all hewn out with the celebrated greenstone axes made from Te Poutini, the "stone fish" of Ngahue.

The Arawa was a very large double canoe, with a house on deck, and was rigged with a foresail, main-sail, and mizzen-sail (Maranga to te ihu, te waenga, me to te kei). The chief, Tama-te-kapua, decoyed the priest Ngātoro-i-rangi on board; and on account of Tama's miscouduct with the wife of Ngātoro, the vessel was nearly lost in the whirlpool of Te Parata. They landed at Whangaparaoa (a few miles north of Auckland), and most of the people who came in the Arawa settled on the East Coast about Maketu, Rotorua, etc. In the canoe came the ancestors of Ngatiwhakaue, Rangitihi, Ngatipikiao, Rangi-wehiwehi, Tu-hourangi, Ngatiwahiau, Ngatiporou, and Ngatituwharetoa. The Arawa was burned at Maketu by Raumati. Other chiefs aboard the Arawa were Tia, Maka, Oro, Marupunga, Whaoa, and Hei.

The stern-anchor of the Arawa was called Tuterangiharuru and the bow-anchor was called Tokaparore.



  • Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, pp. 72, 83, 84.
  • Shortland, Edward. (1856). Traditions and Superstitions of the New Zealanders. London: Longmans Green, p. 15.
  • 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, 183.

This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.