Maori Mythology Stories
by Hana Weka
In the dark folds of Ranginui the Skyfather's great cloak lived the forgotten
brother of Tane Mahuta, Tangaroa, Rongomatane, Tawhiri Matea, Tumatauenga, the
gods of the new world, created when Tane separated his mother the Earth, and his
father the Sky.
Uru was so silent that even his father Ranginui, had forgotten about him.
Sometimes his brother, Tawhiri Matea, god of the Wind, would roar over Ranginui
and peer curiously into the dark creases of Ranginui, and then whirl madly back
to Papatuanuku, the mother of the gods, convinced nobody lived with his father.
The forgotten brother would weep silent tears which hardened as they slipped
down his face and fell twinkling at his feet. Uru would gather up his teardrops
and quickly hide them in a basket. "Firstborn though I am" he mourned silently,
"what use am I to this new world that is being created by my brothers?" And once
again the tears would come and Uru would stoop quickly and gather up his
Far below him he could see his mother, Papatuanuku being dressed by Tane Mahuta,
in the most beautiful gown of green and yellow and rich purple. Around her
rippled the glistening blue waters of Tangaroa, god of the Sea, and now and then
long, blue ribbons would weave in and out of Papa's gown ending in little blue
gems that sparkled in the light.
Seeing how beautiful Papatuanuku looked, his father Ranginui would weep for her
and the world would disappear in a mist of grey wetness.
All the while, the tears in Uru's basket grew and grew until there were many
baskets at the feet of the forgotten brother. Then one still evening he heard
his name being called. "Uru, my tuakana, I need your help." At once, Uru wrapped
Ranginui's black cloak around him and vanished. The voice called. "Uru, Uru, my
eldest brother, I need your help. Look at our father. See how unhappy he is. Our
mother has sent me to teach him how to be happy again. But I need your help
because you know him better than we do."
Uru replied, "what do you want me to do?"
Tane Mahuta answered, "I want your baskets."
"They are nothing," said Uru, "only the sadness of a forgotten brother."
Tane Mahuta smiled and touched the top of a basket. "Open it, brother."
Uru lifted the lid and at once the sky was lit with bright lights that tumbled
and chattered around him. Little feet danced all over him and little voices
called to Uru, "Father, father, here we are, your little seeds of light. Your
"Just two baskets," said Tane. "Our father will not be lonely in the dark
anymore if some of your children are with him."
Uru nodded and said, "take two baskets, my brother, but don't come back here
again. My children and I shall not be here should you return."
Tane Mahuta scooped up two baskets and hurried away and as he went he sprinkled
little gatherings of stars all over Ranginui until he glowed with millions of
lights. Then he took the empty baskets and shook the stardust into the air and
flung the baskets into space. One fell away into the west like a giant orange
globe and the other spun itself into a pale, silvery ball that hung above
Ranginui and Uru's children.
As Tane Mahuta returned to Papatuanuku he thought he heard Ranginui chuckle and
high, piping voices calling to each other as they twinkled in the night sky.
"Father, Father, here we are, your purapurawhetu."
MAUI COMES HOME
by Hana Weka
As Tangaroa tumbled into the bay where Tamanuikiterangi, the wise one lived, he
was pleased to see how well Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga was growing. Many seasons
had passed since Tangaroa had tossed Maui, wrapped up in his mother's hair, on
to the beach, giving him to Tamanuikiterangi. Now Maui was as clever as the old
man and knew as much about hidden magic in the earth and the sky as his old
One day Tamanuikiterangi said to Maui, "go on, go and find your whanau. I have
been waiting for you to ask me but you have chosen to use magic instead. Put
away your spells and let me do this one last service for you. Your time with me
And Maui left Tamanuikiterangi.
He travelled by day and when the land became too rugged he took the form of the
kahu and skimmed over it. He crossed into his tribal land and found his family's
whare exactly where Tamanuikiterangi had said it would be.
When night fell and everyone had gone to sleep he crept inside and lay down
beside his brothers.
The following morning Taranga looked at her four sleeping sons. "Maui
Taha....... Maui Roto...... Maui Waho....... Maui Pae........But there was a
fifth person asleep with her sons."Who's that?" She shook the stranger roughly
and shouted, "wake up, whoever you are! Where did you come from?"
Maui sat up and looked at his mother. His brothers sprang to their feet and
rushed for their weapons to kill the intruder.
"Well may you ask, woman" said Maui. He stood up and faced his whanau. "I come
from the heaving waters of Tangaroa where I was thrown by my mother who had
wrapped me in her hair. I would have perished had Tangaroa not taken pity on me
and tossed me to Tamanuikiterangi. He named me Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga."
Taranga's eyes filled with tears and she opened her arms to Maui.
"My son. My last born son. My potiki. My potiki who came too early into this
world. Welcome back to your whanau. Welcome home."
MAUI FINDS FIRE
by Hana Weka
Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga loved playing with fire. He liked putting them out and
he liked making them burn fiercely. One day he put out all the fires in the
village. The people were angry and complained to Taranga, Maui's mother. She
called Maui and said to him, "the people are angry with you. I am too. There is
no fire burning in the village. How are we going to cook our food and warm
ourselves? You must go as quickly as you can to the old kuia, Mahuika, and ask
her for some fire. She is a dangerous old woman so you had better be careful."
Maui travelled down into the underworld. No one had offered to come with him for
everyone was terrified of the spirits that lived there.
Mahuika lived alone. She never touched anything. When she did, it would burst
into flames. Maui found Mahuika sitiing in front of her whare trying to eat a
meal. "Let me feed you," he said, and took his taiaha and scooped up the food on
the spearhead. Mahuika ate and ate. When she had finished, Maui took a shell and
filled it with water. Then he held it to her lips so that she could drink.
Mahuika was very thirsty.
"Welcome, Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga. I know why you are here. You wasted the fire
in the world of light. How careless you are. Never mind. Because you have been
kind to me, I shall give you what you want." She lifted her hands and pulled off
a fingernail. At once it burst into flame. "Here, take it. Light your fire and
bring it back to me."
Maui took the fingernail and set off. As he carried it away a wicked little plan
began to develop in his head. He dropped the fingernail into a stream and
watched it hiss out of sight. He went back to Mahuika and told her that he had
tripped and the fingernail had fallen into the stream. Mahuika smiled and said,
"that's all right Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, I have plenty more. Here you are,"
and she gave him another fingernail.
Maui did this many times and each time Mahuika gave him another fingernail. But
when he returned for her last fingernail, Mahuika lost her temper.
"Enough!" shrieked Mahuika. "You die, little fire waster!"
And she threw the last fingernail at Maui. Maui flung himself upwards and turned
into a hawk. He beat his wings rapidly and as he looked down he saw the ground
below him explode in flames. He threw himself into the world of light but the
fires of Mahuika still followed him crackling and snarling as they licked their
way through the forest of Tane Mahuta.
High int the heavens the gods watched in astonishement as the fires leaped into
the air after the fleeing hawk. "It is Maui Tikitiki-a-Tanraga," said Tawhiri
Matea. "He needs our help."
So the wind roared over the raging fires and blew icy rain into the flames.
Water rose up from the streams and fell on top of the burning trees. And far
below the earth Ruamoko, the earthquake god, shook the ground until it split
open, and then he swalloed the fires of Mahuika .
Maui flew to his home and he dropped down beside his mother and took his own
shape again. In his hand he held a glowing stick.
"You cannot go into the Underworld to get fire anymore. The way is closed to
those who live. If you need fire again just look for the kaikomako tree and rub
two of its twigs together."
In a faraway land hidden from the inquisitive eyes of a man Mahuika sat
muttering to herself as she looked into the rivers of fire that ran past her.
"Pest!" she muttered. "Ratbag!"
"He'll never find me now!"
by Hana Weka
When Tane Mahuta, god of the Forest and Birds, separated Ranginui, the
skyfather, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother, he and his brothers were horrified
to see how bare and ugly their world looked. Papatuanuku was covered in soft,
oozing mud that shifted and slid every time she sighed. Ranginui was hidden in
mist as he wept frozen tears for Papatuanuku.
"This will not do," muttered the brothers.
"This is our world too, but Rangi and Papa must help us as well."
The brothers began to make all things on earth and in the sky.
Time dreamed in darkness.
A tiny spark was wrapped in warmth until it became a pale glow. Then it broke
and scattered all over the world. A little piece flew to Uru who lived with
Ranginui. He made glittering lights that blazed all over the Sky Father.
The work went on.
Tane Mahuta flung two baskets of magic into the air and a huge ball of fire
burst into the world and broke time into day and night.
One day the work was done.
The gods looked at their mother, Papatuanuku. She was dressed in a beautiful
gown that shimmered green and gold in the sunlight. The gods looked at their
father, Ranginui. He stretched high above them in a magnificent cloak that was
blue by day and as the light fled, the cloak turned from the palest gold into a
fiery red. Then at night the cloak became as black as black and millions of
glittering stars blazed and twinkled down on Papatuanuku.
It was a beautiful world but there was no one to enjoy it.
"We must make some people," said Tane Mahuta.
"A man who looks a bit like us," said Tu Matauenga, the god of War.
"No," said Rongomatane, the god of Peace. "A man cannot have children."
"We shall make a woman," said Tane Mahuta. "She shall be like Papatuanuku, our
mother, and she will have children."
"A baby," said Ruamoko, the Earthquake god. "I like babies."
The gods agreed and watched their brother, Tane Mahuta, take red earth from
Papatuanuku and shape it into the form of a woman.
"Take my breath. Give her life," whispered Tawhiri Matea, god of the winds.
Tane Mahuta bent over the earth form and breathed into it's nostrils. The chest
moved. The figure took a breath and then she sneezed, "Tihei!"
The gods smiled and together they gave her the gift of life - mauriora.
"She is like Papatuanuku," they cried. "We shall call her Hineahuone, Woman -
made - from - earth," said Tane Mahuta. "I shall build her a house to live in."
Tane Mahuta took Hineahuone and looked after her.
He taught her many things. His brothers came often and made sure that Hineahuone
knew about their worlds too.
Tane Mahuta was pleased with Hineahuone. He decided to marry her. It was not
long before Hineahuone gave birth to a daughter. She was full of life and very
beautiful. The gods were so happy. They named her Hinetitama - the Dawn Maiden -
because her cheeks were the same colour as the first morning light.
Tane Mahuta and his brothers sang to each other with joy as they watched
Hineahuone and her child.
"A mother and child," boomed Tangaroa, god of the Sea.
"A mother and child," whispered Tawhiri Matea, god of the Wind.
"Yes, a mother and child," chanted Tumatauenga god of War and Rongomatane, god
"Child," rumbled Ruamoko, the Earthquake god.
"They will live in our world forever," said Tane Mahuta. "They will look after
all the things we have made and we shall teach the child all that we know."
"Yes!" shouted the gods.
The brothers gently touched noses and departed.
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