Story: Ngā manu – birds

Hine-nui-te-pō and Māui

Hine-nui-te-pō and Māui

This carving relates to a story about the goddess of death, Hine-nui-te-pō (top), and the demigod Māui. Māui attempted to kill Hine-nui-te-pō and overcome death by entering her body and climbing to her mouth. However, the moho pererū (banded rail) laughed at him and awoke the goddess. She closed her legs, crushing Māui to death. In some versions of the story, it is a tīwaiwaka (fantail) that alerts Hine-nui-te-pō.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PAColl-6585-10
Photograph by Charles A. Lloyd

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Kelly Keane-Tuala, 'Ngā manu – birds - Birds associated with death', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 July 2024)

Story by Kelly Keane-Tuala, published 24 Sep 2007, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015