Te Korenga or Kerehoma Tu-Whawhakia


S. Percy Smith writes: “In 1895, our energetic member, Mr. Elsdon Best, made a journey up the Whanganui River, and took the opportunity of explaining to the natives the object of our [Polynesian] Society, and suceeded in interesting them in it. One old man, Te Korenga (or Kerehoma) Tu-whawhakia thought so well of our work that he wrote two volumes of matter relating to the history, etc., of his tribe, which volumes have been lying amongst the Society’s records for some years past. One of the most interesting things he wrote was the story of Whaki-tapui, which was printed in Volume V. of the Journal. Such of the matter as is of general interest is now published, together with a few other notes, but a large part of the old man’s writings consist of short songs, that have not any particular interest except to his own people, and these have not been included. But I have included a few which have a wider interest, though, without help from the old men of the tribe, I fear the translations cannot be considered satisfactory. Like all Māori poetry, they are full of allusions to their own history, many of which are only known to themselves. He also wrote a long story about Tu-tae-poroporo, the famous taniwha of Whanganui, but as another edition of this was printed in J.P.S. Volume XIII. p.89, it has not been reproduced here. Tu-whakwhakia died a few years since.” Tu-whawhakia was a descendant of Turereao and Whakitapui’s son Turanga-pito.

Biographical sources

  • Smith, S. Percy. "Some Whanganui Historical Notes." Journal of the Polynesian Society 14.55 (Sept. 1905): 131-158.


  • "The Story of Whaki-tapui, and Tu-taia-roa/Te Kōrero Mo Whaki-tapui; Mo Tu-taia-roa Hoki." English trans. S. Percy Smith. Journal of the Polynesian Society 5.19 (Sept. 1896): 155-170
  • Tu-whawhaki tells the story of Whaki-tapui who left her first husband Paihau, a chief from Ngāti Ruanui, and went to live with Turereao of Whanganui. In the second story Paihau and Whaki-tapui’s son Turanga-pito marries Hine-moana, and when Hine-moana’s relatives unexpectedly arrive she fears they will kill Tu-taia-roa, her child, and Turanga-pito, so she deceives them as to the gender of her son and the whereabouts of her husband. When Turanga-pito returns he is quick to avenge the insult to his son who becomes the ‘stone pillar’ from whom the Whanganui chiefs are descended.
  • "Some Whanganui Historical Notes." English trans. and introd. notes S. Percy Smith. Journal of the Polynesian Society 14.55 (Sept. 1905): 131-158.
  • A collection of tribal stories by Tu-Whawhakia with introductory notes and English translations by Percy Smith. The stories include accounts of Ruamano the taniwha, of Tuwakaturi and his descendants and the battles of Whata-raparapa and Whata-piropiro. Tu-Whawhakia writes of the influence of the atua Patu-pai-arehe and the implications of not appeasing the god Maru. Tu-Whawhakia discusses the ‘He Whakamomori’- the suicide of Te Kapua, the ‘Rewharewha’ epidemic which spread to many parts of the North Island in the late 18th century, and the death of Takarangi, a chief of Whanganui, with laments written by Turangapito and Nuku. Tu-Whawhakia concludes with notes on Taikehu, a whakapapa and his fear that "the canoe will be over laden" - meaning that the Journal of the Polynesian Society would not be able to contain all that he had written.


  • Taylor, C. H. R. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: Clarendon; Oxford UP, 1972. 81.