Basic Information

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

About Whirinaki

Whirinaki was one of the eleven taniwha sons of Araiteuru (Āraiteuru) of Hokianga Harbour. [1] His brothers, set by their mother, all took it upon themselves to see who could burrow the furthest to see the country in which they lived. [1]

Whirinaki followed his brother Omanaia. When he met the Waoku mountain, he still had eagerness in himself, so he took four gargantuan jumps up, up, up, and up the mountain. [2] His final leap landed him just below the peak of the mountain, where his strength failed him. Whirinaki could not push himself one bit more upwards, so he ended up rolling and sliding back down where he started. [2] He died there, overtaxed and overtired, and his body drifted back to the harbor. [2]

His giant leaps left three short streams or rivers that all bear his name, Wirinaki River, and one of his leaps cleft out Whirinaki Falls. All of these run down and empty into the harbor that his mother still guards. [2]

Related Articles


  1. Orbell 13
  2. Gregory - The Hokianga Harbour. Link defunct: <>

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