A celebrated chieftainess on board the Arawa canoe. She was the wife of Ruaeo, and should have been one of the immigrants by the Tainui, but she was abducted by Tama-te-kapua and carried off in the other canoe. Tama also carried off Ngātoro-i-rangi and Kearoa, the wife of the latter. He was behaving so badly to Kearoa, that Ngātoro by his incantations drove the Arawa into the mouth of Te Parata, the great whirlpool (or monster) in mid-ocean. Before Ngātoro relented and brought the vessel back to safety, most of the provisions had been lost, only a little food having been saved, notably that in the basket of Whakaoti-rangi. Hence the Māori proverbs used when only a little food can be given to visitors: The little basket of Whakao-tirangi (Ko te putiki a Whakao-tirangi and Ko te rukuruku a Whakaoti-rangi).

Ruaeo found his wife soon after their landing, and vanquished Tama in single combat, insulted him, and then took Whakaotirangi again as his wife.

To this ancestress and to Kearoa, as representing the Ruahine, were the sacrifices at death ceremonies offered.



  • Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. Auckland: Brett, p. 86.
  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 606-607.

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