Whiro is an offspring of the primal parents Ranginui and Papatuanuku. He is known as the lord of darkness, the instigator and cause of bad feelings that plague mankind.
Purakau (legend) tells of Whiro and his younger brother, Tane, racing to the upper heavens to obtain the three kete (baskets) of knowledge. During their difficult journey, Whiro’s jealousy towards Tane’s advancement soon gets the better of him. In his attempt to stop his younger brother from reaching the top, Whiro calls upon the Whanau Akaaka (insects, reptiles and carrion eating birds) to attack. Tane evades this onslaught, and many more after that. He manages to reach the upper most heaven first, well ahead of Whiro, securing the three baskets of knowledge which are known as Te Kete-Tuatea (basket of light), Te Kete-Tuauri (basket of darkness) and Te Kete-Aronui (basket of pursuit).
Even though Tane was the obvious victor and favoured contender, it did not stop Whiro from demanding the precious prize for himself. As a result of his arrogance and dishonest behaviour, Whiro was banished to the Underworld where his dark energies continued to influence Atua (Gods) and man.
(Excerpt from NIU - He Tangata Matauhi, Voices of our Ancestors)