None shall defy me. I am the God of War
Tumatauenga is a name that instills fear for the God of War and Mankind. He holds a terrifying title that attracts only a certain type of character, one that doesn't abhor violence, yet welcomes it and goes so far as to enjoy it. Traits befitting the current title holder indeed. He is also reminiscent of those childish Greek Gods who hold themselves above all else, especially against those filthy mortals that they so detest and envy.
Tumatauenga as the jealous type will never meet the aptitude or valor of his brother: Tane Mahuta. He wasn't strong enough to separate his parents and even proposed to kill them, before Tane put forward a much kinder and more reasonable approach. Having said that we can not deny that Tumatauenga is a force to be respected and of course feared because of the questionable intentions behind his power. There is a ruthlessness surrounding what oft seems like playful spontaneity that is both violent and frightening. I am aware that in comparing him to Tane we can allow ourselves to belittle his strength somewhat, but let's not forget that perhaps we shouldn't underestimate him simply because he isn't as strong as a Titan of the forest. That same titan who was capable of separating the earth and the sky. I'm sure that Tu's confidence to even attempt such a feat is worthy of praise. According to legend Tumatauenga does redeem his failure indirectly when his children ensnare all of the children of his brothers. The fact that his offspring tower above the offspring of almost all, holds its own reverence. Tu's children (humans) capture, eat and use almost all of the children of Tu's brothers. We eat fish and birds, we chop down trees for warmth, we harvest crops and so on. Tumatauenga's children control all but Tawhiri's for the wrath of Tawhirimatea is not so easily swayed to our will. Tawhiri's children the hurricanes and storms can not be contained. They carry with them an inherited lament which they project in the most violent of ways to remind the brothers, of their parents' sadness.
In 'The Ascension' we are introduced to Tumatauenga when he meets Erohix along with several other key characters in the narrative. We are met with a humanoid Tumatauenga. Again, like Auahi Turoa, Tumatauenga is fiercely motivated to protect Rehua from a foreign power who seems capable of destroying his brethren (or at least capable of bringing an element of harm). Tumatauenga I believe, has a human form, from which his children followed suit in appearance. Judging by the story of 'The Ascension' we are given several hints at his ability, assuming his form hosts practical applications for its features. Most notable I think are his horns, the armor-like spikes emerging from his back and his tail.
I think it's reasonable to assume that the humanoid form gives him agility and the length of his tail means that he resides somewhere where balance is tricky, meaning his balance on simple terrain will be advanced, adding to his agility. In addition, his tail is made more interesting because it appears to be used aggressively, noted by the patu at its end. His horns appear to be an aggressive weapon as well, leading me further to predict that Tumatauenga would be a very intimidating opponent on the battlefield even to someone of equal or superior strength. Tu seems an active and aggressive fighter rather than a defensive one. The spikes from his back pose a few questions. I have an inkling that he may use them as projectiles but this is of course only speculation. We can be sure that their function is more than aesthetics and this I am certain. As a final thought on his appearance, his face from the side looks human but from front on it looks bestial. This strongly indicates that he has a beast form.
An extra note on Tumatauenga comes with the company that he keeps. As I mentioned earlier his presence comes about in 'The Ascenscion' because of Rehua's apparent vulnerability and Tu comes to aid Auahi Turoa. But why Tumatauenga? And why is he surrounded by Maui, Hine Nui te po, Tane Mahuta and Auahi Turoa? Not just "why these guys?" but why not others? Were they close, proximity-wise or were they specifically tasked with protecting him. 'The Ascension' does give some insight into the lives of several Atua Maori but poses many more questions, hopefully questions that can be answered in editions to follow.