A deified ancestor of the Māori. He was a mighty chief, a descendant of the war god Tū-mata-uenga, and was father of Rua-tapu, whose anger produced the Deluge called Te Tai-a-Ruatapu. Ue-nuku was jealous of his wife Taka-rita having committed adultery; and he took his revenge by killing her and her two paramours. He proceeded further with his undying vengeance, cooking the heart of his dead wife, and feeding his son Ira with the awful meal.

Tā-wheta, the brother of the slain woman, vowed revenge, and a deadly feud ensued. Ue-nuku's four sons, viz., Maputu-ki-te-rangi, Ropa-nui, Mahina-i-te-ata, and Whiwhinga-i-te-rangi, were killed in an unexpected attack, and the fifth narrowly escaped with life, hacked almost to pieces. This survivor, whose name was Rongo-ua-roa, contrived to drag his wounded body home to Ue-nuku's fort, and found him entertaining his enemies at a feast, unconscious that Tā-wheta had commenced hostilities. Ue-nuku, on learning the intelligence, with a lofty sense of the duties of hospitality, simply warned his guests to depart, and told them that he would revenge himself at a future date.

After some time, Ue-nuku fitted up a great war expedition, and assaulted the town of which Tā-wheta was chief. In the attack, Tā-wheta's priest named Hāpopo was slain, and with him were slaughtered a great number of his people; but Tā-wheta himself escaped. The combat was called Whatiuatakamarae. Ue-nuku took Paimahutanga, the daughter of Tā-wheta, as his wife. The anger of Ue-nuku was not yet satiated. He pressed forward, and provoked another battle, and in the midst of the fight wrought spells, which brought darkness as of Night, and the mists from the mountains, enveloping the whole force of the enemy. In the obscurity and confusion, these warriors turned their arms upon one another, and slew till none were left but a few standing about their chief Tā-wheta; and these, when by another incantation the light appeared, were slain by Ue-nuku and his party. This is the celebrated battle of Ratorua, also called Taiparipari.

The story is told differently in another legend.1 Whena had two children named Whā-tino and Wharo, who were great thieves. Ue-nuku captured these thieves; and in revenge, Whena slew all Ue-nuku's children except Rongo-ua-roa, who escaped wounded. Ue-nuku, with a great war-party, assaulted the forts of Whena, who dwelt at Rarotonga; and causing the fog to settle on the party of the enemy, he forced the fighting, and won the battle known as Te Rakungia. By his priestly power compelling the fog to clear away, he again attacked the enemy with dogs, and was again victorious. This was the battle of Te Mau-a-te-Kararehe at the Rotorua. Having fought a third decisive action named Te Moana-waipu, Ue-nuku returned to Aotearoa (New Zealand) and begat his son Rua-tapu.



  1. White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 3:5, 9-13, 23-31, 46-41, 48-58.


  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 572.

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