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Atua god of darkness, evil, and death
Ethnic groupMāori, Paʻumotu people
Personal information
ParentsRanginui and Papatuinuku
SiblingsUrutengangana, Tāwhiri, Tangaroa, Kiwa, , Tāne

Whiro-te-tipua (Whiro, or Hiro in the Tuamotus) is the lord of darkness and embodiment of all evil in Māori mythology.[1][2] He inhabits the underworld and is responsible for the ills of all persons, a contrast to his brother and enemy Tāne.

According to some tribes, when people die, their bodies descend into the underworld, where they are eaten by Whiro. Each time Whiro eats a body, he becomes stronger. This process will eventually make him sufficiently powerful to break free of the underworld, at which point he will come to the surface and devour everything and everyone on it. Cremation is therefore recommended to prevent this, because Whiro cannot gain strength from ashes.

Taiwhetuki – Whiro's House of Death – is a deep and dark cave[3] where all things evil are preserved, such as black magic. It is a place in which countless personifications of illnesses and diseases dwell.[4]

Geckos, skinks, and tuatara were feared because of their spiritual association with Whiro.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marae: The Heart of Maori Culture ISBN 978-1775501947[page needed]
  2. ^ a b "Māori Dictionary search results for 'Whiro'". John C Moorfield. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Black hole "resembles Whiro, atua of darkness" – Māori astronomer". Te Ao Māori News. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  4. ^ Best, Elsdon (1924). The Maori – Volume 1. Harry H. Tombs, Wellington. p. 66.
  • Journal of the Polynesian Society, volume XXVI, Auckland, New Zealand: Polynesian Society (N.Z.)
  • Craig, Robert (1989), Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0313258902
  • Odyssey Magazine, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing, 2010