A chief of great power and influence, residing in Hawaiki. He was married to Kuiwai, a sister of Ngātoro-i-rangi, and being displeased with her, he insulted her by cursing Ngātoro. She sent her daughter, under the protection of the gods, across the sea to New Zealand, whither Ngātoro had gone. The girl found her uncle at Maketu, and informed him of Manaia's curse, whereupon Ngātoro, greatly enraged, fitted out an expedition, and built the canoe Totara-Keria, wherein he sailed to Hawaiki. Arriving there, he found by means of spies that Manaia's people were all in the temples, praying that Ngātoro and his men might all be brought thither dead by the gods. Ngātoro then ordered his party to proceed to the sacred place, and there pretend to be dead, they all striking their noses so violently as to bring blood, with which they besmeared their bodies. On the incautious close approach of Manaia's people, the supposed corpses leaped up, slew the priests, attacked the town, and slaughtered many, but Manaia himself escaped. This is the battle known as Ihu-motomotokia ("the bruised noses").

Manaia got together another force, and attacked Ngātoro, but was again defeated with great loss. This battle is known as Tarai-whenua-kura. Ngātoro then returned to New Zealand, and after some time was pursued hither by Manaia and a host of warriors. The hostile fleet arrived off the island of Motiti (Bay of Plenty), where Ngātoro was occupying his pa of Matarehua. Ngātoro, by the power of his spells as a great magician, raised a violent storm (Te Aputahi-a-Pawa), in which the whole army of Manaia, including their leader, perished, the bodies of the slain being almost wholly eaten by fish. This slaughter was called Maikukutea, because little except the fingernails (maikuku) of the slain was left.



  • Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, p. 102 ff.
  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 147, 181, 203-204.

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