Tākitimu was a waka (canoe) with whakapapa throughout the Pacific particularly with Samoa, the Cook Islands and Aotearoa (New Zealand) in ancient times. In several Māori traditions, the Tākitimu was one of the great Māori migration ships that brought Polynesian migrants to New Zealand from Hawaiki.

Great Māori migration waka
CommanderTamatea Arikinui, Kahukura, Arutanga, Tangiia
IwiNgāti Ruapani, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāti Ranginui

Cook Islands Māori traditions

The Tākitumu (sic) was an important waka in the Cook Islands with one of the districts on the main island of Rarotonga consequently named after it. Sir Tom Davis, Pa Tuterangi Ariki, KFE, wrote in the form of a novel, an account of 300 years of voyaging of the Tākitumu (sic) by his own forebears as told in their traditions.

Aotearoa - Māori traditions

The Tākitimu appears in many traditions around New Zealand. Most accounts agree that the Tākitimu was a sacred canoe. Many also give the name of the captain as "Tamatea", although in different forms.

Traditions of the East Coast

Te Māhia accounts

Accounts from the northern East Coast indicate that the Tākitimu left Hawaiki after two brothers, Ruawharo and Tūpai, took the canoe from their enemies and escaped to New Zealand. The vessel landed on the Māhia Peninsula and the crew dispersed: Ruawharo stayed at Māhia, a man named Puhiariki went to Muriwhenua in present-day Northland, while others moved to Tauranga.

Ngāti Kahungunu accounts

According to Ngāti Kahungunu, the Tākitimu was captained by Tamatea Arikinui, who landed and settled in the Tauranga area. Some of his descendants gave rise to Ngāti Kahungunu. Others journeyed along the east coast, including two tohunga (priests): Ruawharo, who settled at Te Māhia; and Tūpai, who settled in the Wairarapa. Command of the vessel was given to Tahu Pōtiki, who travelled up the Wairoa River, and later to the South Island, where he became the founding ancestor of Ngāi Tahu.[1]

Traditions of the Bay of Plenty

The tribes of the Tauranga region refer to the canoe as Takitimu. Some traditions say that the Takitimu was captained by Tamatea, father of Ranginui, and Kahungunu the founding ancestor of Ngāti Ranginui. Ngāti Kahungunu recognise this "Tamatea" as the grandson of Tamatea Arikinui, and refer to him as "Tamatea-pokaiwhenua-pokaimoana". However, accounts in Northland and Tauranga do not indicate the existence of more than one "Tamatea" from the Takitimu.

Traditions of the South Island

South Island traditions indicate that Tamatea explored the western and southern coastlines of the South Island. The Tākitimu is said to have been turned to stone at Murihiku. From there, Tamatea is said to have built another canoe, the Karaerae, to return to the North Island.

See also


  1. Whaanga, Mere (3 March 2017). "Ngāti Kahungunu - Ancestors". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  • Black, Te Awanuiārangi (2006-09-26). "Tauranga Moana tribes". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  • Craig, R.D. (1989). Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology. New York: Greenwood Press. p. 255.
  • Taonui, Rāwiri (2006-12-21). "Canoe traditions". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  • Whaanga, Mere (2006-12-21). "Ngāti Kahungunu". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  • Davis, Tom (1992-12-01). "Vaka". Polynesian Press. Retrieved 1992-12-01. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
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