Story: Conservation – a history



In Maori tradition, all parts of the natural world are descended from Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother. This whakapapa (genealogy) shows the ancestry of Hīhue, the kumara moth. Whānui (the star Vega) is the parent of the kūmara (sweet potato), which was stolen from the heavens and taken to earth. As punishment, Whānui sent three caterpillars – Ānuhe, Toronū and Moko – to attack the kūmara. The most rapacious of these was Ānuhe. His child is Tūpoupou (or Tūngoungou), the pupa of the moth, whose child is Hīhue (the moth).

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Source: ‘Te Ao Turoa‘ education kit, Auckland Museum, p. 24

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Simon Nathan, 'Conservation – a history - Māori conservation traditions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 5 December 2023)

Story by Simon Nathan, published 24 Sep 2007, updated 1 Aug 2015