The epic character Paikea is a key ancestor who came to New Zealand on the back of a whale. His story is shadowed by treachery in Hawaiki, where a battle took place over family status and rivalries, and ended in the slaughter by Ruatapu of some 70 ‘brothers’, his senior kin.
The ancestress Paimahutonga had been taken captive by the great Hawaiki chief Uenuku. She then married Uenuku and had a son named Ruatapu. Uenuku belittled Ruatapu as a low-born son, and in revenge Ruatapu killed all of Uenuku’s older sons out at sea; the sole survivor was Paikea. The tragedy is known in Ngāti Porou history as Te Huripūreiata.
Paikea was buoyed ashore by calling upon his sea gods and ancestors. He married the beautiful Huturangi, daughter of Te Whironui, who had arrived with his wife Āraiara in the Nukutere canoe. Their marriage is commemorated in ‘Paikea’, the anthem of Ngāti Porou, with the words:
E ai tō ure ki te tamāhine a Te Whironui.
May you cohabit with the daughter of Te Whironui.