A class of goblins and fairies, who living in some land beneath the waters by day, returned to shore at night to sleep. They appear to have dreaded the light, which falling on them was fatal. They slew Hema, the father of Tāwhaki, and carried off his body, also taking captive Urutonga, Tāwhaki's mother, whom they had made doorkeeper (hence her name of Tatau) for their house Mānawa-tāne.

Tāwhaki and Urutonga conspired to keep the Ponaturi asleep by fastening up all the apertures of the house and pretending that it was still night; then suddenly letting in the rays of the sun, the whole of these dreadful beings were destroyed.1

Rata also entered into conflict with the Ponaturi who had carried off his father's bones and used them for beating time when these goblins were exercising magical arts. Rata hid himself, learned their incantation, and reciting a more powerful spell called Titikura, rushed upon them, slew the priests, and carried off the ancestral bones. The Ponaturi rallied and pursued Rata, but by the help of his warriors and his potent incantations he defeated and slew a thousand of them.2

A chief named Rua-pupuke, who dwelt by the sea, lost a young son by drowning. The god Tangaroa had drawn the child down to the bottom of the sea and had made him a tekoteko (carved figure) on the ridge-pole of his house, over the door. The father dived to the bottom into the deep, and came to the house where his boy was stationed, but the house was vacant. He then met a woman named Hine-matiko-tai, who told him that the people would come in at sunset to sleep, and that if he would let in the daylight it would kill them. So having, like Tāwhaki, suddenly allowed the daylight to appear in the dwelling, the inhabitants were slain, and Rua-pupuke burned the house, except some of the carved work which he took back with him as a pattern of carving to the upper worlds.3

The Ponaturi are alluded to sometimes as patupaiarehe,4 that is, as fairies they are called maewaho.5 The wood-fairies are also called "The host of Hakuturu, of Rorotini, and of Ponaua," perhaps the last name being akin to Ponaturi.



  1. Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, pp. 37 ff.
  2. ibid. 71 ff.
  3. White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 2:162 ff.
  4. ibid. 1:48.
  5. ibid. 2:2.


  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 102, 206, 350.

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