Taranga (Māori mythology)

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In Māori mythology, Taranga is the mother of Māui. Her husband is Makeatutara. Māui was born prematurely, so Taranga wrapped his body in her hair and threw him into the waves; some sea-creatures cared for him, hiding him in kelp until a storm sent him back to the beach. His ancestor, Tama-nui-a-rangi, found him and brought him back to life, and educated him.

Māui arrived at his mother's village one day, and recognized his brothers. Taranga didn't know who he was until Māui reminded her of the circumstances of his birth; each morning, Taranga would disappear, and eventually and Māui followed her to the underworld by assuming the shape of a wood pigeon. Māui found her with his father, Makeatutara, a guardian of the underworld. Taranga introduced them and his father performed the dedicatory ritual over his son; because Makeatutara made mistakes in the incantation, Māui was fated to die and thus humankind is mortal.

In some versions, Taranga is a man, the son of Murirangawhenua, he married Irawhaki, and begat the Māui brothers.


  • E. R. Tregear, Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (Lyon and Blair: Lambton Quay, 1891), 233-234, 478.
  • J. White, The Ancient History of the Maori, 7 Volumes (Government Printer: Wellington, 1887-1891), II:63.