The beautiful poetry of the Maori/Polynesian Star Compass - Atea a Rangi

Atea a Rangi: Star Maps of the Maori and Pacific Peoples

In the past, I've written about Maori sea navigation by the stars and the legend of Matariki. Although nothing prepared me for the utterly beautiful Maori star compass which has been carved and placed on a remote and wild beach in the Hawkes Bay, between Hastings and Napier. The Star Compass - Atea a Rangi…

Kea - Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

Maori tribes have long held beliefs and customs about the native birds of Aotearoa New Zealand. Birds or Nga Manu had a vital place in Maori tribal life as they provided food, beautiful feathers for adornment and their strengths and personalities were a rich source of metaphor and poetry. Their behaviour was use to predict…

All About Maori Kite Making

All About Maori Kite Making

There are 17 types of Maori kites. Traditionally made from strong timber framing like manuka wood they were woven with flax and the paper and bark of the mulberry plant until the plant went virtually extinct. Birdman kites have a powerful symbolism for Maori tribes. One such taonga was gifted to the British Museum in…

Mana Wahine: The Female Moko in Māori Culture

Mana Wahine: The Female Moko in Māori Culture

Tā moko represents a person's mana (status or power) in society. This is best highlighted by the time when the chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with their mokos in 1840. The Moko Kauae is a chin tattoo traditional reserved for Māori women with mana (high status and power). Traditionally, female healers (tohunga) had a close relationship…

The beautiful poetry of the Maori/Polynesian Star Compass - Atea a Rangi

What is a pepeha in Maori culture? How can I write one?

In Maori culture, people come to know you through where you are from, not what you have achieved in life. The first question a pakeha asks when they meet you is 'what do you do?', the first question a Maori asks is 'Where are you from?'. A pepeha is a form of introduction that establishes…

Dolphins as Taniwha in New Zealand

Dolphins are mystical beings full of intelligence, compassion and consciousness. For the Maori people they are known as  taniwha. They are considered tapu (sacred) and possessing a powerful mauri (lifeforce). What are Taniwha? Taniwha (pron. tan-ee-far) are mysterious creatures that dwell in the sea, rivers, lakes or in caves. They have a reptilian, fish-like or…

Bronwyn Waipuka - Rehutai and Tangimoana

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Maori legend of two sisters Rehutai and Tangimoana

This painting by Bronwyn Waipuka illustrates a story by Wairarapa kaumātua (elder) Mita Carter. Rehutai and Tangimoana were beautiful twin sisters who lived on the banks of the Ruamāhanga River. They both fell in love with Rautoroa, a handsome warrior, but he could not decide which to marry. Rehutai asked Tangimoana to fetch some water from a…

Every Picture Tells a Story: Extinct volcanos in Auckland

A Brief History of Auckland’s 53 Volatile Volcanoes

There are approximately 53 volcanoes in Auckland, which have over thousands of years produced an array of interesting lagoons, tuft rings and lava flows in Auckland city. The biggest, most active and most visible volcano - Rangitoto sits on an island of the same name in Auckland harbour. This has erupted repeatedly over the past…

Travel: Maori waka ama (racing war canoe) on Auckland Harbour

Waka Ama is a sport akin to outrigger canoe racing or group rowing. It's based on traditional modes of Polynesian sea travel which relied upon celestial navigation. Since the 80s and 90s high-tech canoes of Hawaiian or Polynesian design have become hugely popular as a sport among Māori, often performed as part of cultural festivals held…

Every Picture Tells A Story: by Maori Goddess Taranga by Robyn Kahukiwa

Every Picture Tells A Story: by Maori Goddess Taranga by Robyn Kahukiwa

In Maori legend, Taranga is the mother of the god Maui and her husband is named Makeatutura. When Maui is born prematurely, Taranga wraps his body in her hair and throws him into the waves. In the ensuing years, sea-creatures care for Maui, hiding him in the sea coral and kelp until one day following a…

Tane Mahuta's Triumph

Every Picture Tells A Story: Tane Mahuta’s Triumph by Jane Crisp

In the beginning there was no sky, no sea no earth and no Gods. There was only darkness, only Te Kore, the Nothingness. From this nothingness, the primal parents of the Maori came, Papatuanuku, the Earth mother, and Ranginui, the Sky father. Papatuanuku and Ranginui came together,embracing in the darkness, and had 70 male children. These…

The Maori legend of Pania: Kaitiaki and taniwha of the reef retold in street art

The Maori legend of Pania: Kaitiaki and taniwha of the reef, retold as street art

Pania is the legendary Kaitiaki (guardian/protector) of the reef in local Maori legend and her wairua (spirit) is connected strongly to the moana (ocean) close by to the town of Napier. Legend has it that Pania was a shimmering and iridescently beautiful maiden who lives in the sea and following a human encounter and a broken…

Welcome to the rumbling belly of the shaky isles: Taupo and Rotorua Part Two

Welcome to the rumbling belly of the shaky isles: Waiotapu

Waiotapu means sacred waters in Maori. It's an active geothermal area at the southern end of New Zealand's Taupo Volcanic Zone just outside of Rotorua. It's a place of surreal colour, beauty and otherworldly wonder. It's no exaggeration that you haven't seen anything like this before. The alchemy of mineral deposits mixing over thousands and sometimes millions of…

An interesting holistic model for health according to the eight tentacles of the Octopus, Te Wheke in Maori culture

An interesting holistic model for health according to the eight tentacles of the Octopus, Te Wheke in Maori culture

The Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) which includes myself, have a very different way of defining health outcomes compared to western medicine. Te Wheke (the octopus) is often used as a symbol to define integrative and holistic health. This holistic approach to health encompasses ten elements in Maori life. Funnily enough this holistic…

Seawalls: Artists for Oceans in Quirky Napier, New Zealand

Seawalls: Artists for Oceans in Quirky Napier, New Zealand

On a recent cycling trip to Napier, the Polish Bear and I were astonished to find the most amazing street art in the side alleys, shop fronts and carpark walls. Art Deco Napier is a place full of surprises. Seawalls Napier: Bringing the oceans to the streets Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans is a groundbreaking…

Auckland's Underground Vogue Scene

Auckland’s Underground Vogue Scene

For a growing community of young LGBTQ Maori and Pacific Islanders in Auckland, the burgeoning Vogue scene is a place of creative expression. It's a sanctuary that naturally intersects with Maori and Pacific traditions of performance art and dance. Vice met with some of the breakout stars of the Vogue dance scene and found out…

Book Review: The Heading Dog That Split in Half by Brown and Tait

Book Review: The Heading Dog That Split in Half by Brown and Tait

Aotearoa has a rich and varied history of folk legends and urban myths in addition to the rich history of Maori myth and legend. The Heading Dog Who Split in Half collects these half-realised dreams together with stunningly beautiful graphics. This book makes for engaging and captivating reading experience for readers of all ages. The…

Every Picture Tells A Story: The magic of Matariki and Māori winter sea navigation

The magic of Matariki and Māori winter sea navigation

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. In Aotearoa Matariki rises in mid-winter–late May or early June.  It traditionally heralds winter solistice in New Zealand or the Māori new year. Matariki translates to the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth,…

The magic of Matariki and Māori winter sea navigation

The Māori and Matariki

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. In Aotearoa Matariki rises in mid-winter–late May or early June.  It traditionally heralds winter solistice in New Zealand or the Māori new year. Matariki translates to the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth,…

Mysterious Rongorongo Glyphs from Easter Island's Rapa Nui Tribe

Mysterious Rongorongo Glyphs from Easter Island

A collection of 24 sacred wooden objects from Easter Island bear Rongorongo inscriptions, a system of glyphs that was discovered in the 19th Century and is still a mystery to historians. Numerous attempts at decyphering the proto-writing have been unsuccessful. These pieces of wood (a lot of it driftwood) are weathered, burned and damaged and…