Tangaroa, also known as Takaroa, is one of the great gods of Maori mythology. He is a god of the sea, and is the son of Ranginui (Sky) and Paptuanuku (Earth). His parents are forcibly separated by Tangaroa and his brothers Haumia, Rongo, Tane, and Tumatauenga. After this forcible separation, Tangaroa is attacked by his brother Tawhirimatea, the god of storms, and forced to hide in the sea. Tangaroa is sometimes depicted as a whale.
Tangaroa is the ancestor of many sea creatures. Punga, Tangaroa's son, has two children. They are Ikatere, the ancestor of fish, and Tu-te-wehiwehi (or Tu-te-wanawana), the ancestor of reptiles. Terrified by Tawhirimatea's onslaught on Tangaroa, the fish find shelter in the sea and the reptiles seek shelter in the forest. This caused Tangaroa to hold a grudge against Tane, the god of forests, because he provided refuge to the runaway children.
The tension between Tangaroa and Tane illustrates the Maori belief that the ocean and the land are opposite realms. When people go out to sea they are representing Tane entering the realm of Tane's enemy. For this reason it was important to make offerings to Tangaroa before any sea expedition.
There are versions of Tangaroa in many Polynesian cultures.