The story of Ngāti Porou lies in mythology, legend, oral tradition and historical record. Fundamental to the tribe’s history is the godlike figure of Māui-tikitiki-a-taranga. Māui is the ancestor who binds Ngāti Porou descendants to the beginnings of human existence. It was he who fished up the North Island from the ocean depths. This fantastic feat is commemorated in the songs and haka of Ngāti Porou. The funeral lament ‘Haere rā e hika’ (Farewell dear one), sung in farewelling the dead, closes with a reference to Māui’s canoe Nukutaimemeha:
Ko te waka i hīia ai te whenua nui nei.
The canoe which fished up this great land.
The deed is also extolled in the haka ‘Whakarongo ake ki te hīrea waha o Māui’ (Hearken to the faint call of the voice of Māui), which celebrates the rising of the sacred mountain Hikurangi from the ocean depth:
Whakaeteete mai ko Hikurangi.
Thrusting upward, is Hikurangi.