Basic Information

Type/Species: Taniwha
Origin: Maori (Māori) Mythology, New Zealand

About Hine-korako (Hine-kōrako) / Hinekorako (Hinekōrako)

According to legend, the first six generations of the Te Reinga (Te Rē inga) region, from Iwhara to Hinekorako (Hinekōrako), were not humans as humans are today; instead, they were a race of water-spirit with an element of the human race as well. Hinekōrako, a taniwha guardian of the region, however, changed that forever when she fell in love with a human male. [3]

The human's name was Tane-kino (Tāne-kino), and they both fell in love and married. She bore him a son named Taurenga. [1]

Unfortunately, the family of Tāne-kino did not accept his taniwha bride, and they insulted Hinekōrako's ancestry, especially after the birth of her son. She abandoned her husband and son and moved to live under the Te Rē inga waterfall, where she remains to this day. [1]

Another version of this story attributes Hinekōrako's departure to a broken promise rather than social circumstances. Because Hinekōrako descended from a line of water-spirit, she had to break the spell of her ancestry in order to remain a fully human wife and mother. Hinekōrako, before she bore the child, explained to her husband that he would have to care for baby, including the nursing, until the child could care for himself. [2] Despite the socially unusual request, Tāne-kino promised Hinekōrako he would fulfill her wishes. [3]

Tāne-kino kept his promise until the time Taurenga could crawl. As customary, Tāne-kino and Hinekōrako took their son to a meeting of the tribe, and Taurenga, in the midst of the tribe's gathering, relieved himself, to the disgrace of himself and his parents. [3]

Tāne-kino, ashamed of his son, left the meeting. In his shame, he forgot his promise, and he called Hinekōrako and asked her to clean the child quickly. Hinekōrako took her son to a stream which flows past the Te Reinfa Marae, where she washed and fed him. [3]

It was not long afterwards that Tāne-kino realized that he had broken his promise completely. He searched for his family, and when he found Hinekōrako, he begged her to forgive him for his thoughtlessness and broken promise. However, no amount of sorrow could remedy the situation, Hinekōrako would remain a taniwha by her ancestry forever. [3]

Hinekōrako wept over her son until she finally handed him to his father. She told him that his broken promise removed any chance of her staying, and so she had to leave the land and return to her home under the Te Rē inga Falls. [3]

While she did not remain with her child, she did watch over her descendants in a way only a taniwha could. Once, a heavy flood in the Hangaroa River pushed the Ngati-hine-hika out in the middle of the night. The flood stole away the various waka (canoes, ships) and soon the waka and those within would be smashed against the waterfall, which had become a heavy, treacherous cascade in the midst of the flood. Luckily, an old man remembered Hinekōrako and called out to her for help, and the waka stopped, despite the movement of the flood towards the waterfall. Hinekōrako saved the waka and all those within. [4]

Tāne-kino is the great ancestor of the Ngati-Hine-hika of Te Rē inga region. [4] This is why the original peoples living in Te Rē inga, between the Wairoa River and Mount Whakapunake, are not quite men and women as other men and women are, for they are a race of taniwha as well. [1]


  1. Orbell 36
  2. Papamoa Maori School 45 [Online]
  3. Papamoa Maori School 46 [Online]
  4. Lambert 98 [Online]

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.