A giant. There are many legends in which giants are mentioned as haying lived in New Zealand; some of these relating to historical or semi-historical persons, and others being pure myth.

  • Tama-te-kapua was nine feet high; and he was vanquished in single combat by Ruaeo, who was eleven feet high.
  • Tū-hou-rangi was nine feet in height, and was six feet up to the armpits. The bones of Tū-hou-rangi were used for a long time in priestly ceremonies, being brought out and set up in the high places at the time of the kumara being planted. They were taken away by the Ngā-puhi tribe when they stormed the island of Mokoia, in Lake Rotorua.
  • Kawharu was another giant, of twenty-four feet in length, and he was used by his friends as a scaling-ladder in the attack on the pa at Moturimu, in the Kaipara.
  • Raukawa, the ancestor of the Ngāti-raukawa tribe, was thirty feet high, and leaped across the Waikato River at the point where the town of Cambridge now stands.

The South Island was inhabited by a race of giant ogres named Kahui-Tipua. They could stride from ridge to ridge of the hills, and hunted with two-headed dogs. They could also swallow rivers, and transform themselves into any shape they chose. Te Rapuwai was caught by one of these ogres, but escaped.



  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 465.

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