In the legend of Ruru-teina, an enchantress, part human and part lizard. With her tail she held Ruru, who had gone up to the magician's dwelling to get fire. She was burnt in her own house by Ruru and his friends. Only two of her scales escaped being consumed in the fire; one scale reached Pukearuhe, and the other Pororimu.

In a different legend,1 Ngārara-huarau was a monster, a tāniwha, who slew thousands of Māoris because one woman ate tapu food. She was captured and sent to live with him in his cave. Her relatives later rescued her and when the monster was slain, his tail flew off and took up abode near Lake Moawhiti (Greville Harbor). The woman gave birth to a child that was part human and part reptile.

Another version2 says that Ngārara-huarau (or Moko-nui) ravaged the countryside in the search of his sister Parikawhiti. It was slain by the Ngāitara tribe who lured him out of his canoe. A heap of rocks at Tupurupuru is pointed out as being the bones of Moko-nui.



  1. Best, Eldson. (1893). "Te Patunga O Ngarara-Huorau." Journal of the Polynesian Society 2:211-219.
  2. Te Aro. (1894). "Slaying of Mokonui." Journal of the Polynesian Society 3:166-167.


  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 278.
  • White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 2:29.
  • Wohlers, J. F. H. (1876). "Mythology and Tradition of the Maori." New Zealand Institute, Transactions 8:108-123, p. 117.