The Maero (Maeroero or Mairoero) are a race of forest beings or wild men from the folklore of the Maori of New Zealand.

The Maori describe the Maero as a humanoid race native to the mountainous forests of the Tararua Ranges on the North Island of New Zealand. They also lived in the Fiordland National Park region, southwest of the South Island.

Reports of the alleged creatures also came from the forests of the Tautuku Peninsula in the Catlins on the south coast of the Otago.

The name (Maero) reportedly means “wild man” or “lost tribe.”


The Maori legends portray the Maero as wild men of the forests.

[Note: The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand whose ancestors came from East Polynesia in canoes in the early to mid-14th century. European travelers and explorers first contacted them in the 18th century. The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa.]

The Maero were similar to the Yeti and Sasquatch

The Maero were humanoid beings sometimes compared with crypto-hominids, such as the Yeti or the Bigfoot (Sasquatch) of American folklore.

Maori folklore often describes them as giants more than 8 feet tall. But some accounts claim they were smaller than regular humans.

According to legend, the Maori and the Maero crossbred to produce giant hybrids. Some Maori families from the Waikato region and Rotorua in the North Island allegedly claim to be descendants of the hybrids.

Members of the families are big-statured, but Maori traditions claim that the ancient hybrids were bigger than their modern-day descendants and had powerful muscular physiques.

The dwarf and giant versions of the Maero were wild men with powerful physiques. They were skillful fighters armed with deadly stone clubs. They had shaggy, hairy bodies, bald heads, and long, bony fingers ending in claws.

The Maero were solitary creatures but sometimes lived in small groups. Because they had thick shaggy hair covering, they did not need to wear clothes. They ran around in the forest with only their shaggy hair covering their bodies.

They were agile and could climb trees like monkeys. The humanoids hunted and ate various animals, including birds.

The Maero and the Maoris were enemies

The Maero were not benevolent beings but evil creatures hostile to the Maori. They were cannibals who trapped, killed, and ate humans.

They didn’t use weapons besides stone clubs. Instead of knives, they used their long and sharp claws to cut. Some legends claimed they killed humans by thrusting and cutting them with their sharp claws (George Eberhart, 2002).

They were enemies of the Maoris. Folklore said that the enmity started when the ancestors of the Maori arrived on the New Zealand island from Hawaiki.

[Note: Maori origin myths claim that their ancestors came from Hawaiki, sometimes portrayed as the underworld.]

The wars between the Maori ancestors and the Maero occurred in the distant past, but folklore recalls brave deeds and tragedies during the alleged wars.

The Maero reportedly ambushed Maoris traveling alone in the bush and killed them.

A Maori folk hero called Purukupenga reportedly killed a Maero hero during a combat encounter.

The Maero may have gone extinct

The Maori ancestors found the Maero living in New Zealand but took the land from them. Defeated, the Maero withdrew to remote mountain forests, where they survived only in small numbers after generations of war with the Maori.

Constant fighting drove them deeper and deeper into the forests. They faced increasingly harsh conditions and survival pressures as they withdrew. The harsh conditions in the forests led to the depletion of their population.

Some folklorists believe that sightings of the Maero were common in the past. But the incidents became increasingly rare.

There have recently been no new reports of the Maero in the remote forested mountains of the Tararua Ranges in the North Island, the Fiordland National Park region, and the forests of the Tautuku Peninsula of the South Island.

It led to speculation that the Maero may have gone extinct.

Aboriginal tribes

Some anthropologists suggested that the Maori stories may reflect collective memories about aboriginals who arrived in New Zealand before the Maori ancestors arrived in the 14th century.

Stories about fighting between the Maori and wild men in the forests suggest conflicts between new arrivals and an aboriginal population.

The tales could mean the Maori ancestors wiped out the Aboriginals after many years of struggle.

The Maero had supernatural powers

Some myths and legends ascribed superhuman or supernatural powers to the Maero.

One legend tells of Tukoio, a Maori, who killed a Maero and dismembered him. But despite decapitating the Maero, the head still had life and called for help.

Frightened, Tukoio dropped the head and fled. When he returned later, he found that the enemy had reconstituted his body and returned to the mountain forests.

The Moehau

The Moehau (or Maeroero) is a cryptid from New Zealand folklore that is sometimes associated with the Maero.

Some legends claim the Moehau is a hairy creature closely related to the Maero. Others said the Moehau and Maero are the same.

According to folklore, the Moehau is native to the Moehau mountain range in the northernmost parts of the Coromandel peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island.

Gold miners reported sighting the Moehau in the late 1800s. But skeptics said that the Moehau does not exist and that some people mistook an escaped gorilla for a legendary creature.

Other skeptics dismissed the legend of the Moehau as a hoax. They said that the word (Moehau) was originally the nickname for noisy and smokey steam-powered log haulers used in the forests of New Zealand.

Sightings and Tales

Reported sightings of the Maero were rare because (according to tradition) they lived in remote forested parts of New Zealand and avoided contact with humans.

However, in the 1970s, some natives discovered humanoid tracks near Dusky Sound, a fiord in the Fiordland National Park, South Island.

Later in the 1980s (some accounts claim 1990s), residents discovered another set of humanoid tracks on the banks of Lake Manapouri in the Fiordland National Park.


Anthropologists have attempted to explain the origins of the Maero tales.


The most widely accepted explanation is that the tales reflect the Maori recollection of an aboriginal population that lived in New Zealand before their ancestors arrived.

The common brushtail possum

Some skeptics attempted to identify animals that may have inspired the stories.

In his Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, cryptozoologist George Eberhart (2002) proposed that the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) may have inspired the legends.

The animal is a marsupial species native to Australia but introduced to New Zealand in the 1800s.

The common brushtail possum is a nocturnal creature that lives on trees.


European settlers introduced gorillas to New Zealand in the 1800s.

Currently, gorillas live at the Orana Wildlife Park, an open-range zoo in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Some sources argued that gorillas that escaped zoos inspired stories about Moehau sightings in the 1800s.

Other Name/sMaeroero, Moehau, Mohoao, Macro, Maero, Mairoero, Ngatimamaero, Ngatimamo
LocationNew Zealand
TypeExtinct, Humanoid
HabitatCountryside, Forest, Mountains


Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, Eberhart, George M. (2002)., “Finding Bigfoot: One man’s mission to locate NZ’s very own Sasquatch,” accessed on March 22, 2023., “The Maero: NZ’s Bigfoot,” accessed on March 22, 2023., “Burial of ‘Monster’ Coromandel myth,” accessed on March 22, 2023., “A leaf from the natural history of the New Zealand,” accessed on March 22, 2023., “The legends of the Maori,” accessed on March 22, 2023., “The Cryptid Zoo: Maero (or New Zealand Wildman),” accessed on March 22, 2023., “The Maero: Bigfoot in New Zealand Folklore,” accessed on March 22, 2023.

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