Some very ancient personage, alluded to in archaic legend. He was the fifth in descent from Rangi, the Sky. "The fire of Tamatea" is said to have destroyed all the moa birds in the North Island; and a similar story is told by the priests of the South Island. The moa were certainly not destroyed altogether by fire or deluge. The tradition of "the fire of Tamatea" is probably a survival of some legendary recollection concerning a catastrophe of eruption or conflagration in another and earlier place of settlement other than New Zealand.
The Mangaian mythology records that all the world was set on fire when Māui obtained fire from the fire goddess, hence the proverb,
The rocks at Oravaru are burning.
The Hawaiians, according to the legend of Wela-ahi-lani-nui, say that Kāne destroyed the world by fire, on account of the evil conduct of its inhabitants. This was the former world, and its destruction took place before the creation of the first man, Kumu-honua, by the triad gods (Kāne, Kū, and Lono).
- Colenso, W. (1880). "Contributions Toward a Better Knowledge of the Maori Race." New Zealand Institute, Transactions 2:108-145.
- Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 458-459.
This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.