"Red garment." The Māori god of travelers, war, life, disease, and death: Ka tu i te paepae, ka torona a Kāhukura, a Itupawa, a Rongo-mai.1 Also the god of the rainbow: Ka tu a Kāhukura i te rango, a Rongo-nui-tau ano hoki, raua tokorua.2 Kāhukura was also known as Atua-toro, "the spying god," and To-haere-roa ("Drag on a long distance"). He was worshiped in the mua, or sacred place, where stood his image of totara wood, about a cubit long, and without feet. This was brought in the Takitūmu canoe, by Rua-whārō.

Kāhukura was classed among the great and good deities, with Rehua and Tāne. He was seen after the Deluge, standing in the sky, and incantations were performed for him. His appearance foretold rain and he was consulted in planting kumura. He was sacred to the descendants of those Māoris who came in the Aotea and Takitūmu canoes. Sometimes regarded as an abstract deity.

The Moriori genealogy gives two Kāhukura: one the son of Rongo-mai and father of Tiki; the other a son of the second Rongo-mai and father of Ruanuku. Both, however, are among "the heavenly race" of ancestors.

The upper and darker band of the rainbow is called Kahukura-pango (male) and the lower band Pou-te-aniwaniwa (female). Also atuapiko, the rainbow, from atua, a deity, and piko, "bent," "crooked."



  1. Grey 1855, p. 84.
  2. White 1887, p. 1:163.


  • Best, Elsdon. (1924). The Maori. Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, pp. 160-161.
  • Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, p. 102.
  • Poignant, Roslyn. (1967). Oceanic Mythology. London: Hamlyn, p. 24.
  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 31, 114, 131, 522.
  • White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, pp. 1:40, 163, 179; 3:61.

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