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Māori myths and legends offer a fascinating take on New Zealand's origins and the Earth's creation. There are stories about gods (ngā atua).
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Each story is told across two pages, with text of about words accompanied by a large, colourful illustration by Warren Pohatu.


  • Maori Stories and Legends?
  • Maui and Other Maori Legends.
  • Kawariki and the shark man!

Both in his ebullient artwork and his energetic retelling of the tales, Pohatu succeeds in bringing tradition stories of the Maori to life for a young audience. Maori Myths and Legends Written and illustrated by well-known children's writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop, Taming the Sun contains four stories - two well-known legends Maui and the Sun and, Maui and the Big Fish and two less well-known legends Rona and the Moon and, Kahu the Taniwha.

Aimed at children with reading ages years, these myths are simply and yet elegantly written. Gavin's characteristic sense of humour is evident in all of the stories, and they are exciting and resolved beautifully. Gavin allows the essence of the original myths to remain. The illustrations are stunning - the different colour palette for each story and the strong mix of techniques create bold and beautiful images that integrate with the words in a powerful and meaningful way.


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Maori Myths and Legends Uenuku stumbles across the love of his life in an otherworldly mist. Can and human and a supernatural beauty keep their love a moonlight secret? Or do they both belong in their own realms? Hinemoa falls in love when Tutanekai plays the flute, but Hinemoa's father considers him unsuitable. They vow to be together, and every night on the island,Tutanekai plays his flute to guide Hinemoa to him. With no canoe, Hinemoa must swim the lake with mystical creatures in it to be with Tutanekai. Magic which gave him the ability to change back into his human form each month, when the new moon rose, the one condition being, that he returned to the sea by morning.

Tales from the mythologies of Creation, Maui and Aoraki

As the first rays of the new day began to colour the sky, the morning light changed Tutira's skin to the dark grey of a shark. Tutira and Kawariki vowed to meet again before Tutira took on his shark form, thrashed his tail and glided through the shallow water.

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He then descended into the depths of the ocean and the world where fish and sea creatures fled from his path. When the new moon rose each month, Kawariki and Tutira met and strengthened their love for each other. But as the wedding drew near, Kawariki was forced to tell Tutira of her fate. Tutira was powerless to influence anything in Kawariki's life. With great sadness he turned back to his ocean world, knowing he would never see Kawariki again.

When the day finally arrived for Kawariki's marriage, she was taken to the beach with the rest of her tribe to welcome the visitors. The sea was calm, a perfect day for travelling by waka. When the neighbouring tribe were seen on the horizon facing their waka towards the beach, the tohunga, Matakite, stood and recited an incantation to guide their waka safely to land.

But Hinemoana was angry with Matakite, she remembered how he had used sea magic without her permission when he cast his spell on Tutira. Hinemoana refused Matakite's request for safe passage and instead sent a huge wave rolling in from the ocean.

Māori Myths, Legends and Contemporary Stories

The wave overturned the waka and the visiting tribe were forced to cling to the overturned hull. Tutira, who was guarding the coast, came to the rescue of those that were in danger. With his dorsal fin caught in the upturned waka, Tutira was able to pull the waka and the people out of danger and into shore.

Kawariki's people stood in disbelief when they realised a shark had saved their visitors. Matakite the tohunga was silent, his magic had failed and he was overwhelmed with shame. Kawariki ran into the water and embraced the shark to the amazement of her tribe. With her people gathered around, Kawariki explained that this was Tutira, that he had been changed into a shark by her father and that she loved him dearly.

Both tribes watched in silence, Tutira thrashed his tail and turned to leave, but Matakite suddenly raised his hands and pleaded for him to stay. Matakite first acknowledged his great ancestress Hinemoana, thanking her for her wisdom and teachings. He had been blinded by his own ambitions, disregarding his daughter and her right to choose as a rangatira in her own right.

Matakite reversed his spell and Tutira was instantly changed back into human form. He possessed magic powers that not all of his family knew about. One day when he was very young, he hid in the bottom of his brothers' boat in order to go out fishing with them. Once out at sea, Maui was discovered by his brothers, but they were not able to take him back to shore as Maui made use of his magic powers, making the shoreline seem much further away than it was in reality. So the brothers continued rowing, and once they were far out into the ocean Maui dropped his magic fishhook over the side of the waka.

After a while he felt a strong tug on the line.

This seemed to be too strong a tug to be any ordinary fish, so Maui called to his brothers for assistance. Maui told his brothers that the Gods might be angry about this, and he asked his brothers to wait while he went to make peace with the Gods.

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However, once Maui had gone his brothers began to argue among themselves about the possession of this new land. They took out their weapons and started pounding away at the catch. The blows on the land created the many mountains and valleys of the North Island today. Stewart Island, which lies at the very bottom of New Zealand, is known as Te Punga a Maui Maui's anchor , as it was the anchor holding Maui's waka as he pulled in the giant fish. In Hawaiiki lived a canoe maker by the name of Toto.

Toto fabricated two huge ocean going canoes from a large tree. One canoe he named Aotea and the other he named Matahorua. Toto gave his canoe named Aotea to one of his daughters, Rongorongo, and the other canoe named Matahorua to his other daughter, Kura. It happened that Kupe desired Kura very much. However, Kura was already the wife of Kupe's cousin Hoturapa. When Hoturapa and Kupe were out fishing one day, Kupe ordered Hoturapa to dive down and free Kupe's fishing line, which had become tangled.

When Hoturapa dived into the sea to free the tangled line, Kupe sliced through the anchor rope of the canoe, and began to row furiously back to shore. Hoturapa drowned, but his family were suspicious of the circumstances surrounding his death. It was, in fact, a plan on Kupe's part to take Hoturapa's wife Kura.

In order to avoid vengeance from Hoturapa's family, Kupe and his own family left Hawaiiki in Kura's canoe Matahorua. After some time of navigating, Kupe's wife Hine Te Aparangi sighted the islands of New Zealand, which appeared as land lying beneath a cloud. As Kupe and his crew were sailing along the coast of this new land, they disturbed a giant octopus, who was hiding in a coastal cave.

Terrified at the sight of a strange canoe filled with human beings, the huge octopus swam rapidly in front of the Matahorua and took flight, passing through the strait between the North and South Islands. Kupe followed the octopus, and discovered modern Cook Strait. Kupe and the Matahorua eventually caught up with the giant octopus. In defence, the octopus whipped its enormous tentacles around the canoe, intent on devouring the whole canoe.

During the furious battle which followed with the sea monster, it became obvious that the Matahorua was in great danger of breaking up.

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However, Kupe suddenly had an idea, and threw a large water gourd overboard. The octopus, thinking that a man had fallen over, released it's tentacles from the Matahorua and turned to attack the gourd. Kupe seized this opportunity, and waited until the octopus was entwined around the gourd. Kupe then attacked the head of the octopus with his adze, and the octopus died.

With his adze, Kupe then cut several islands away from the South Island, and several islands away from the North Island, including the island of Kapiti. He remained for a short while in modern Wellington, before continuing northwards up the coast of the North Island, naming various islands, rivers and harbours on the way.