Basic Information

Alternative Name: Ngai-te-heke-o-te-Rangi [2]
Type/Species: Taniwha
Origin: Maori (Māori) Mythology, New Zealand

About Ngai-te-heke-o-te-Rangi (Ngāi-te-heke-o-te-rangi)

Near Te Mahoe (Te MĀhoe) by the Waiharakeke inlet in Kawhia Harbour, there is a group of fifteen taniwha named Ngai-te-heke-o-te-Rangi (NgĀi-te-heke-o-te-rangi). They are kindly disposed to most people and often will save drowning victims. Unfortunately, one among them is a man-eater, and his name is Nga-tara-tu (NgĀ-tara-tū). [1]

For a long time, Kawhia has been known as the home of a tribe of taniwha. The tribe is large, considering it consists of taniwha in particular, fifteen in number. Anyone who calls upon them in the orthodox manner will be saved from drowning and other perils of the sea. [2]

Ngataratu is among this tribe of taniwha, and he is the only known man-eater of them all. [2]

The tribe lives on the Wai-harakeke arm of the Kawhia Harbour, at Te Mahoe. [2]

The only human who ever visited the actual home of this tribe is named Ue-kaha. Ue-kaha had been out spearing flat fish (patiki), which led him on and on in the harbor towards the inlet. All of a sudden, he fell as the land he stood on gave way, and he landed inside a spacious cavern. Oddly, the cavern had no water, but there were magnificent taniwha lying about. The tribe treated Ue-kaha well, keeping him there for the whole of a week. Because his tribe could not find him, they had assumed Ue-kaha dead at this point. The village began to mourn, but before the death tangi could be held, a spring of water exploded near the village. The people gathered around to see Ue-kaha, who had popped out with the first gush of water, his hair matted and covered in weed, but very much alive and well. [2]

Even today, those who pass by the tribe's home can hear a noise that is similar to the shutting of a door. [2]


  1. Orbell 92
  2. Gudgeon 191 [Online Text]

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