In Māori tradition, the Maero (or Mohoao) are an iwi-atua or supernatural people from New Zealand. They are sometimes described as giants and they inhabit mountains and forest, particularly in the South Island. Maero are characterised as wild, malevolent and often violent, carrying stone clubs as weapons. They are covered in dark body hair and have long, bony fingers with sharp fingernails. They kill and eat humans and other animals.
The Maero are said to harbour anger towards the Māori, who arrived from Hawaiki, and are thought to have displaced them and ruined the tapu (sacredness) of their homes, forcing them to dwell in inhospitable alpine regions.
In traditional Māori stories
In a story from the Whanganui area, Tukoio, a mortal man, once found a Maero and attacked it, cutting off its arms, legs and head. He brought the head back, but it was still alive, and called for help. Tukoio did not want to fight a whole clan of Maero, so he dropped it and came back later with reinforcements, but the Maero had put itself back together and returned to the forest.