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In Māori mythology, Whakatau (or Whakatau-pōtiki) is a son of Tūwhakararo and Apakura. One day Apakura has thrown her apron into the sea, and a sea deity named Rongotakawhiu took it and worked it into human form, and Whakatau was born. The sea deity teaches him the arts of enchantment. As the child grows older, people see kites flying at sea, but cannot see who holds the strings. Whakatau loves to fly kites, and is running along the floor of the ocean with his toy. One day, he comes ashore and the people try to catch him. Whakatau is too fast a runner and will let no one catch him except his mother Apakura. He then lives on land with her, and grows up into a famous hero.

In another account, Tūwhakararo is murdered by the men of the Ati Hapai tribe, and Whakatau sets out on a quest to rescue the bones of his father, and to avenge his death. He assembles an army, and prepares his war canoes Whiritoa, Tapatapa-hukarere, Hakirere, Toroa-i-taipakihi, Mahunu-awatea, and others. The expedition sets off, and Whakatau, with his best men, besieges a great house called Te Uru-o-Manono where the enemy are gathered. The house is burned and the people of Ati Hapai are wiped out.

In some accounts, Whakatau is a son of Tūhuruhuru, and a nephew of Tūwhakararo.


  • E.R. Tregear, Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (Lyon and Blair: Lambton Quay), 1891, 607.

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