A Māori ariki, or chief high priest, responsible for the emigration of the hero Turi from Hawaiki to New Zealand. Annoyed by Pōtiki-roroa (the little son of Hoimatua) stumbling on his threshold when bearing an offering, which was an unlucky omen, Ue-nuku killed the boy and devoured him, without even having the body cooked.

In revenge for this atrocity, Turi waylaid and slew Hawe-pōtiki, the son of Ue-nuku. He cut the heart out of the child's body, which was eaten by himself and his friends, and served up the heart as food for the child's father. When Ue-nuku was told by one of his friend's that had eaten a part his own son, he vowed to have a fearful revenge, but he showed no other signs of feeling, that he might not gratify his enemies by manifesting his sorrow, or alarm them by loud threats of revenge. One evening shortly after Hawe-pōtiki's death, Turi's wife Rongorongo heard Ue-nuku in his house, named Wharekura, chanting the following poem:

"Oh! let the tribes be summoned from the south,
Oh! let the tribes be summoned from the north;
Let Ngati-Ruanui come in force;
Let Ngati-Rongotea's warriors too be there,
That we may all our foes destroy,
And sweep them utterly away.
Oh, they ate one far nobler than themselves."

When Rongorongo heard what Ue-nuku was chanting, she went back to her house and informed her husband. Turi at once divined the meaning of it, and went to his father-in-law, Toto, to get a canoe from him, in which he might escape from his enemies. Toto gave him one of the two canoes he had made, the Aotea. It was still a good four years before he and all his people set out for New Zealand.



  • Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, p. 126 ff.
  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 59, 563, 572.

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