Te Horeta Te Taniwha

Ngāti Whanaunga

Te Horeta was twelve years old when Captain James Cook sailed into Mercury Bay on the Endeavour on 3 November 1769. Some eighty-three years later, Te Taniwha’s account was written down.

Biographical sources

  • Te Taniwha, Te Horeta. “When Goblins Came to Whitianga.” Growing Up Māori. Ed. Witi Ihimaera. Auckland, N.Z.: Tandem, 1998. 30.


  • "Account Given By Taniwha-Horeta (Goblin of Red Ochre) (Nga-ti-Whanaunga)/Nga Kōrero A Te Horeta-Te-Taniwha (Nga-Ti-Whan-naunga)." The Ancient History of the Māori, His Mythology and Traditions. Tai-nui. John White. Vol. 5. Wellington, N.Z.; George Didsbury, Govt. Printer, 1888. 128+. (English trans.) 105+ (Māori text). Rpt. as "A Little Boy Meets Captain Cook." in Te Ao Hou 52 (1965): 43-49. In Māori with English translation. Rpt as "An Account of Cook’s Visit." in The Writing of New Zealand: Inventions and Identities. Ed. Alex Calder. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. Rpt. as "When Goblins Came to Whitianga." in Growing up Māori. Ed. Witi Ihimaera. Auckland, N.Z.: Tandem, 1998. 30-35.
  • There are various versions of this account including the John White rendition in Ancient History of the Māori and the account published in J.C. Beaglehole’s The Discovery of New Zealand. Te Ao Hou editorial notes state that this story was ‘originally told by Te Horeta Te Taniwha, who had been a small boy at the time of the visit [of Captain Cook]. But since White publishes two similar versions of the story, apparently written by different people, it seems that Te Horeta Te Taniwha’s account was known to a number of story-tellers and had become part of the folklore of his people.’ Te Taniwha describes the coming of Cook’s ship to Whitianga, the visit of the foreigners, their interaction with the Māori and the Māori response.