Ko created the world and divided it into the land of people and the land of the Kikiri, the spirit folk. Ko told the people that they must not enter the land of the Kikiri. Now, Panua the Gull was a troublemaker, and out of mischief he told the people that the Kikiri lands were far more fruitful than their own, that no-one had to work, that no-one was ill and no-one died. He told the people that this was because of the Tingara plant that the Kikiri ate.
The people were scared, because of Ko's warning not to enter the land of the Kikiri, but one man, Ruaki, was not afraid. He was a lowly fisherman, and Panua told him secret magic to protect him. So, armed with the secret magic, Ruaki crept into the Kikiri lands and stole some Tingara plant. He brought it back to his people, and they grew it and ate it and found that they did not become sick or die. When Ko saw that the people were not growing sick or dying, he guessed what had happened and became very angry. He withdrew the waters from the world.
Without water, the Tingara plants died. People began to get sick and die again.
"This is your fault!" they said to Ruaki. "You must go to Ko and tell him you are sorry."
First Ruaki went to Panua, and asked him if he had anything to help him. Panua gave him secret magic that would allow him to fly up to the sky where Ko lives. So, armed with the secret magic, Ruaki flew up to Ko's great hut in the sky. There he met a beautiful maiden, crying beside a stream. She was Lia-Ko-Lia, Daughter of Ko, and she had been promised as a wife to a terrible turtle spirit named Koa-Ri. Ruaki told her that he would help, and lay in wait for Koa-Ri. When the turtle spirit came, Ruaki wrestled him to the ground, and turned him onto his back. Ruaki would not help Koa-Ri get up until he promised to let Lia-Ko-Lia marry whom she pleased. She fell in love with Ruaki, and told him that her father kept all the waters of the world in a great jar in his hut. Ruaki crept into the hut and stole the jar. He opened it and poured all the waters of the world out. Then he went back down.
But Ruaki found that the world was flooded. Water covered the entire world except for the top one mountain, and all the people had crowded together so as not to drown. The jar did not just contain all the oceans, but all the rain that was yet to come too, and Ruaki had let it all out in one go.
"This is your fault!" said the people to Ruaki. "Do something about it!"
Ruaki went back to find Lia-Ko-Lia, in order to ask her help in getting her father to make the waters go down. But she had been carried off by Koa-Ri. Ruaki found Panua and sought his help in rescuing Lia-Ko-Lia. The two found Koa-Ri and fought him. Panua was swallowed whole by the turtle, and Ruaki ran away. He hid amongst some sharp reeds, and there he had an idea. He wrapped the reeds around himself and went back to Koa-Ri. Koa-Ri swallowed Ruaki whole, but he choked on the spiky reeds. Ruaki climbed out of Koa-Ri's throat, and pulled the turtle's shell off. From this he made the first boat.
In gratitude for rescuing his daughter from Koa-Ri, Ko granted Ruaki's wish of restoring the waters of the world, but because Ruaki had disobeyed him in the first place he ruled that Ruaki's people should forever wander the seas. Ruaki showed his people how to make boats, and they made him their chief.
Note: "Koa-Ri" is the Moa-Ruaki word for turtle, and means, literally, "Boat-Back".
Moa-Ruaki magic tends to be shamanic in form, performed by kahunas. Common to Moa-Ruaki magic is the idea of a deal of some sort with the spirit world. For every magical ability possessed by the kahuna (or that s/he awards to a member of the tribe-fleet), there is a corresponding tapu that must be maintained else the magic fails. One such example is mentioned in the sidebar.
The Moa-Ruaki first mate of the Shadow Lark, Tara-Ki, carries two enchantments. His facial tattoo gives him increased strength, provided that he never cuts his hair. A bone piercing his septum protects him from spirits, provided that he never touches a (human) corpse.
Many islands are known to the Moa-Ruaki that are inhabited by a singular spirit creature. Some are typical Outer Sea locations, others can only be reached by one on a "spirit quest" and thus are likely to exist in the spirit world and not reality.
One such example is the Island of the Drummer (see sidebar)