Saturday, December 21, 2013


Moremore was the son of Pania, the maiden of the reef. Pania’s home was essentially the sea but every night she came ashore to sleep at a small freshwater spring near Hukarere. One night a young chief named Karitoki went to the spring to draw water. He found Pania there and took her home with him. The young couple fell in love and were even married but the fact remained that Pania would always return to the sea during the day. In time they had a son called Moremore and it was soon evident that the child had inherited the special tapu of his mother. 
Moremore... the shark with no tail
He too had to retreat to the water during daylight hours and this made his father very anxious. Soon Karitoki went in search of a solution and spoke to several tohunga. Eventually he was told by one old tohunga that he could remove the tapu by placing cooked food upon them when they were asleep. Karitoki decided to try this method so waited until his wife and his son were asleep and placed cooked kumara upon their bodies. Alas the kumara was not cooked through and the plan did not work. Pania was upset by the plans of Karitoki. She never again returned to the springs to sleep at night and she never saw her husband again. 
Her son Moremore turned into a taniwha. He lives in and around the Ahuriri area and even roams the wider east coast. Moremore is a kaitiaki (guardian) and generally posses no danger to the locals. His presence serves as a warning of potential danger. In the Ngai Tamanuhiri area around Te Kuri-a-Paoa Moremore takes the form of a shark with no tail or no dorsal fin. He is a protector and will appear to warn of an unsafe area or unsafe practices. At the very point of Te Kuri, a place called Pikopiko there lives a species of shark the locals call Moremore. It has no dorsal fin.

My book Taniwharau
Taniwharau is published by Penguin Books (NZ) and focuses on the special relationships that developed between various taniwha around Aotearoa and the local people of the land. It celebrates the many and various kaitieki (kaitiaki ranei) that inhabit our whakapapa and punctuate our oral histories. These magnificent creatures came in all shapes and sizes including lizards, sharks, whales, kiwi, pigeons, dogs and even giant eagles. Some were a weird mix of creatures; half man-half dog, half bird-half woman but all had a special place in the history of the various tangata whenua who claimed them as guardians. 
Taniwha often played a dual role in our history as most were seen as a good omen by the tangata whenua, yet any stranger to the area saw them only as dangerous beasts that would kill to protect their territory. Indeed the reputations of these great beasts traveled the width and breadth of the country with many a defeated war party. Those war parties made it their business to remember them as Maori will always give credit where credit is due and there is no disgrace in losing to a superior foe. 
The ancient Maori were a very spiritual people and believed the universe was made up of different realms that were separate yet very much connected. The mortal realm; inhabited by man and animals, was largely governed by the supernatural realm; inhabited by the many gods, demi-gods, guides and guardians. Both realms were linked by a spiritual bridge to allowed travel between the two worlds and overcame the communications barrier between the species. Man accepted that as he had gods and ancestors, so did all the animals. 
This basic acceptance allowed the magic of belief to manifest itself in the minds and memories of Maori. Indeed, like many indigenous cultures around the world, Maori culture personifies absolutely everything, animate or otherwise. 


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