A legendary Polynesian cannibal, a goddess of incantations and also of thunder. She is the daughter of Turiwhaia, and the wife of Kaitangata. She brought forth a son, Hema, who was the father of the hero Tāwhaki, Karihi, and Pūpū-mai-nono.1

Whaitiri is represented as a devourer of human of flesh, and having married Kaitangata because she thought that the name (man-eater) had been given to him for his cannibalistic propensities. She was smitten with blindness, and in some legends is identified with Matakerepo, whose sight was restored by Tāwhaki, her grandson.2

Whaitiri's blindness was caused by Kaitangata having made fish-hooks from the bones of the two men named Tupeketi and Tupeketa, killed by Whaitiri, and uncleansed by the proper ceremonies. Kaitangata having caught some fish with these bone fish-hooks, and having cooked these fish and given them to his wife, Whaitiri was punished for her neglect of religious rites by being struck blind.3

She is known in Tahiti as Rona-nihoniho-rora, "Rona-of-the-long-teeth." Her heavenly home is called Raparapa-te-uira (flashing lightning). Other names are Whaititiri,4 and Whatitiri-matakataka.5 Also said to be a man.6

Whaitiri (or Whatitiri) is also the name of a child of Tāwhaki and Pare-kōri-tawa.7



  1. White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 1:51.
  2. ibid., p. 1:119.
  3. Wohlers, J. F. H. (1875). "Mythology and Tradition of the Maori." New Zealand Institute, Transactions 7:3-53, p. 42.
  4. White 1887, p. 1:56.
  5. ibid., p. 1:116.
  6. ibid., p. 1:56.
  7. Shortland, Edward. (1882). Maori Religion and Mythology. London: Longmans Green, p. 24.


  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 616.

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