This carving by Tene Waitara, for the meeting house Rauru at Whakarewarewa (opened in 1900) depicts the demigod Māui trying to enter the body of the death goddess Hine-nui-te-pō. According to the legend, a watching fantail (or, in some versions, a moho pererū or banded rail) laughed so loudly that it woke the giant Hine-nui-te-pō, who then crushed and killed Māui between her legs. In Māori mythology, as in other cultures, humour and tragedy are often closely interlinked.
Using this item
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.