Story: Tangihanga – death customs

Hine-nui-te-pō and Māui

Hine-nui-te-pō and Māui

This is a carving of Hine-nui-te-pō, the goddess of death, as Māui the demigod attempts to kill her by entering her and exiting through her mouth. Māui failed to overcome Hine-nui-te-pō, meaning humans would continue to die, and be welcomed by their ancestor, the great goddess of the night and of death.

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:

Rawinia Higgins, 'Tangihanga – death customs - Mythological origins', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 April 2024)

Story by Rawinia Higgins, published 5 May 2011