Tangotango, who is sometimes called Hapai, is the celestial maiden who visited Tāwhaki each night in his sleep, and afterwards became his wife. They quarreled over the little baby-girl that was born to them, and Tangotango took the child away with her to heaven. Tāwhaki mourned very greatly for the loss of his wife and at last set out, together with his brother Karihi, in search of her. They were directed on their way by the blind goddess, Matakerepo, and Tāwhaki ascended the "vine hanging from heaven," and reached the celestial regions, where he found Tangotango and his little girl, Arahuta. After that time Tāwhaki assumed his divinity and remained in the skies.1

Another version of the legend states that Tāwhaki wedded Pare-kōri-tawa, and they went to heaven together; but as Pare-kori-tawa, the daughter of the god Tāne and Hine-a-tauira, had a sister named Pō-tangotango (very dark night), it is possible there is a confusion of legend. Pō-tangotango was born after Hine-a-tauira had gone to the underworld (), and had changed her name to Hine-nui-te-pō. Tāwhaki and Pare-kori-tawa left a black moth behind them as an emblem of the mortal body.2

In Mangaia there is a deity named Tango, a brother of Tū-metua and Tinirau, his home was in Enuakura at Avaiki (the spiritual Hawaiki). Pō-tangotango is the wife of Rangi.

In Hawai'i, the quarrel which resulted in the estrangement of Tāwhaki and Tangotango is, as to its cause, repeated in the story of Hina.



  1. Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, p. 41.
  2. Shortland, Edward. (1882). Maori Religion and Mythology. London: Longmans Green, p. 23.


  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 467.

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