A very famous hero or demigod of ancient days. The legends are, however, confusing and contradictory. He was the ancestor of all New Zealand Māori.1 Paikea was an ariki, i.e. a priest-chief, in Hawaiki, and was invited by Rua-tapu into the fatal canoe, in which one hundred and forty first-born chiefs of houses were also decoyed. After proceeding to mid-ocean, they were all drowned by Rua-tapu, except Paikea, who swam to New Zealand. The murder of the chiefs was called Te Puru-unuhia, because it was accomplished by Rua-tapu pulling out the plug (puru) which was in the bottom of the canoe.2 This was just before the Deluge, known as Te Tai-a-Ruatapu.

Paikea landed at Ahuahu, or Great Mercury Island.3 He is also said to have been carried to shore on the back of the great fish Ruamano.4

The names of Paikea's wives were Ahurumowairaka (or Ahu-moa-i-raka), Te Mānawatina, and Hutu-rangi. He was buried at Whangara, in the cave known ever since as Te-ana-o-Paikea. Paikea was met in heaven by Tāwhaki; the wife of Paikea, named Hine-nui-o-te-kawa, fell in love with Tāwhaki. Her husband permitting (or casting her off), she went to Tāwhaki, and had a child by him.

Paikea's name in Hawaiki was Kāhutiaterangi; he received his name of Paikea because he crossed on the paikea, or water-monster, or whale.



  1. White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 1:22.
  2. ibid., p. 3:40
  3. ibid., p. 3:31.
  4. ibid., p. 3:52


  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 98, 303.

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