Tama-ahua came from the north, from Whanga-paraoa, from Whanga-mata, to follow his two wives, one of whom was called Wai-ta-iki. They were abducted by Poutini, a canoe, but which was in fact the pounamu (green jade). During his pursuit he caused numerous geographical changes with his teka (a dart made of wood). He eventually found the canoe but it was wrecked and everyone was dead.
He conceived the idea of preparing some food as an offering to the god, in order to resuscitate his wives. During the preparation of the food his slave broke a tapu and in consequence of this the two wives were not brought back to life. Tama-ahua then returned home.
According to tradition, the giant Tama-ahua resided with his twelve wives in a cave near Puta-koura, a stream which flows into the Ma-kino. His remains and those of his wives can be seen in the shape of petrifications. Tama-ahua himself is supposed to be standing at the entrance.
Tama-ahua belonged to the Kahui-maunga, viz., to those people who, it is claimed, came to New Zealand by way of land. They walked here:
Ko Papanui tonu te waka o Te Kahui-maunga, i torona mai ai te 'Hiku o te Ika' e takoto nei (Earth itself was the canoe of the Kahui-maunga by which they reached the "Tail of the Fish," Te Ika-a-Māui — which refers to Muri-whenua, which is the actual tail of the fish hauled up by Māui.
Various tribes claimed Tama-ahua as their common ancestor.
- Hare Hongi. (1896). "Tama-Ahua." Journal of the Polynesian Society 5:233-236.