"The sinker of a net." The brother of Tāwhaki, the famous demi-god. Karihi was the son of Hema and Kare-nuku (or of Pūpū-mai-nono, or of Urutonga, or of Whaitiri and Kaitangata). Karihi accompanied his brother on the expedition for the slaughter of the Ponaturi, and the revenge for the death of Hema. When Tangotango, the Heavenly Maiden, left her husband Tāwhaki, and took their child Arahuta away with them, Karihi accompanied his brother on his journey toward the skies in search of the lost ones.

Coming to the dwelling of the blind old goddess Mataerepō, she directed their way to the vine which hung down from Heaven, and which they must ascend. A great gust of wind seized Karihi, who was blown back again to earth (see Ururangi); but Tāwhaki ascended safely and pursued his way alone. Karihi returned to his own dwelling.

In Hawaii, Karihi is called Alihi, and is represented as accompanying Tāwhaki (Kaha'i) on the journey to revenge their father's death. In the pedigree called the Ulu Genealogy, Tāwhaki (Kaha'i) is said to be the son of Hema and Hina-ulu-'ōhi'a; Hema being the son of Kai-tangata (Aikauaka) and Hina.

In Tahiti, we find that Tāwhaki (Tavai) and Karihi (Ari'i) were the sons of Hema (Oema), and that they both went down to Hawaiki (Havaii = spirit-world) to seek their father. They saw the old blind goddess counting her taro, as in the New Zealand legend. They brought back the bones of Hema.

When Karihi is mentioned in Rarotongan myth he is called Ari'i, which would apparently show (from the lost k) that they had received this story in the Hervey Islands from Tahitian sources.

The Samoan tale Karihi 'Alise; and he accompanies Tafa'i (Tāwhaki) to Heaven in his brother's journey to woo Sina. He returned safely to the earth (Samoan legend called "O le Gafa o le La" or The Genealogy of the Sun).



  • Fornander, Abraham. (1880). Account of the Polynesian Race. Vol. 2. London: Trubner, p. 16.
  • Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, pp. 36 ff.
  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 130-131.
  • White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 1:59, 121.

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