Story: First peoples in Māori tradition

Meeting house, Te Papa Tongarewa

Meeting house, Te Papa Tongarewa

These carvings are on Te Hono ki Hawaiki wharenui (meeting house) in Te Papa museum. They show links to Hawaiki, the spiritual homeland from which the first arrivals to New Zealand came. Also shown are Māui (top) and his four brothers roping in the sun to slow its progress. In the early days the sun moved too fast across the sky, not allowing enough daylight hours for people to get all their business done. Māui convinced his brothers that they should plait strong flax ropes with which they could catch the sun as he rose. The sun was unfazed by the ropes so Māui beat him into submission with a jawbone gifted to him by his female ancestor Muri-ranga-whenua. Defeated, the sun moved more slowly across the sky from then on.

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'First peoples in Māori tradition - Framework of the traditions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 6 February 2023)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005