A chief, who was a very ugly man; and his wife, Ruku-tia, left him for chief Tutekoropanga, a more handsome lover. His daughters deserted him at the same time, and Tama was left mourning. After a time he followed his runaway spouse, and in his travels assumed the shape of a crane. He was noosed by some women, and returned to his human shape. The women asked him what he wanted, and he informed them that he wished the design painted on his face to be made permanent. They instructed him where to find his ancestors; and these performed the painful and dangerous work of tattooing completely in one operation. Afterwards, his ancestral spirits gave some present, named Puairuru. When he was cured, he again set out in search of Ruku-tia.

Tama by his incantations caused his wife to leave her lover and swim out to his canoe. He then cut her in halves, and took the upper part of the corpse away with him. Returning to his home, he buried the remains of his unfaithful wife, and dwelt alone till summer came. Then, hearing a sound, as of words singing through the air, he visited the grave, and thereon found Ruku-tia sitting, restored to life, full of joy and welcome.



  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 457.
  • White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 2:34 ff.

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