Category:Māori legendary creatures
Pages in category "Māori legendary creatures"
The following 17 pages are in this category, out of 17 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
The following 17 pages are in this category, out of 17 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
1. Legendary creature – A legendary creature is an animal or part human described in non-historical stories that sometimes involve the supernatural. In the classical era, monstrous creatures such as the Cyclops, other creatures, such as the unicorn, were claimed in accounts of natural history by various scholars of antiquity. Some legendary creatures have their origin in traditional mythology and were believed to be creatures, for example dragons, griffins. Others were based on real encounters, originating in garbled accounts of travelers tales, such as the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, a variety of mythical animals appear in the art and stories of the Classical era. For example in the Odyssey, monstrous creatures include the Cyclops, Scylla, in other tales there appear the Medusa to be defeated by Perseus, the Minotaur to be destroyed by Theseus, and the Hydra to be killed by Heracles, while Aeneas battles with the harpies. These monsters thus have the function of emphasising the greatness of the heroes involved. Some classical era creatures, such as the centaur, chimaera, Triton, similarly, sphinxes appear as winged lions in Indian art. In Medieval art, animals, both real and mythical, played important roles and these included decorative forms as in Medieval jewellery, sometimes with their limbs intricately interlaced. Animal forms were used to add humour or majesty to objects, in Christian art, animals carried symbolic meanings, where for example the lamb symbolised Christ, a dove indicated the Holy Spirit, and the classical griffin represented a guardian of the dead. Medieval bestiaries included animals regardless of reality, the basilisk represented the devil. One function of animals in the Middle Ages was allegory. Unicorns, for example, were described as swift and unable to be caught by traditional methods. It was believed that the way for one to catch this beast was to lead a virgin to its dwelling. Then, the unicorn was supposed to leap into her lap and go to sleep, in terms of symbolism, the unicorn was a metaphor for Christ. Unicorns represented the idea of innocence and purity, in the King James Bible, Psalm 92,10 states, My horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn. This is because the translators of the King James erroneously translated the Hebrew word reem as unicorn, later versions translate this as wild ox. The unicorn’s small size signifies the humility of Christ, another common legendary creature which served allegorical functions within the Middle Ages was the dragon. Dragons were identified with serpents, though their attributes were greatly intensified, the dragon was supposed to have been larger than all other animals
2. Taniwha – In Māori mythology, taniwha are beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers. They may be considered highly respected kaitiaki of people and places, or in some traditions as dangerous, predatory beings, linguists have reconstructed the word taniwha to Proto-Oceanic *tanifa, with the meaning shark species. In Tongan and Niuean, tenifa refers to a dangerous shark, as does the Samoan tanifa. In most other Polynesian languages, the words refer to sharks or simply fish. Some anthropologists have stated that the taniwha has analogues that appear within other Polynesian cosmologies, at sea, a taniwha often appears as a whale or as quite a large shark, compare the Māori name for the Great white shark, mangō-taniwha. In inland waters, they may still be of whale-like dimensions, other taniwha appear in forms of serpentine, dragon-like, crocodile-like, and megalania - like, or as a floating log, which behaves in a disconcerting way. Some can tunnel through the earth, uprooting trees in the process, Legends credit certain taniwha with creating harbours by carving out a channel to the ocean. Wellingtons harbour, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, was carved out by two taniwha. The petrified remains of one of turned into a hill overlooking the city. Other taniwha allegedly caused landslides beside lakes or rivers, Taniwha can either be male or female. The taniwha Araiteuru is said to have arrived in New Zealand with the voyaging canoes. In some lore, Taniwhas were mentioned to splay toxic urine for combats, most taniwha have associations with tribal groups, each group may have a taniwha of its own. The taniwha Ureia, depicted on page, was associated as a guardian with the Māori people of the Hauraki district. Many well-known taniwha arrived from Hawaiki, often as guardians of an ancestral canoe. Once arrived in New Zealand, they took on a role over the descendants of the crew of the canoe they had accompanied. The origins of many other taniwha are unknown, when accorded appropriate respect, taniwha usually acted well towards their people. Taniwha acted as guardians by warning of the approach of enemies, communicating the information via a priest who was a medium, sometimes the taniwha saved people from drowning. Because they lived in dangerous or dark and gloomy places, the people were careful to placate the taniwha with appropriate offerings if they needed to be in the vicinity or to pass by its lair and these offerings were often of a green twig, accompanied by a fitting incantation
3. Whitehead (bird) – The whitehead or pōpokotea is a small species of passerine bird endemic to New Zealand. It is currently classified in the family Mohouidae, the male whiteheads upperparts, wings and tail are a pale brown in colour, while the head and underparts are white – in the case of the male an almost pure white in colour. Females and juveniles have similar colouration except that the nape and crown are shaded brown, the black beak and eyes contrast with the white head and the feet are bluish black in colouration. Historically, deforestation has destroyed large areas of habitat for this species and it has been the subject of an active conservation campaign and has been successfully reintroduced into reserves near Auckland and Wellington respectively. In the past whiteheads held a place in maori culture. The distributions of the whitehead and its relative, the yellowhead are allopatric. When encountered whiteheads often display flocking behaviour, the flocks generally consist of small family groups. The diet of whiteheads is primarily insectivorous in nature – they are classed as arboreal insectivores and their main prey are spiders, moths, caterpillars and beetles which are gleaned from tree trunks, leaves and branches in the canopy and subcanopy. They rarely feed on the forest floor, whiteheads will often form mixed-species feeding flocks with saddlebacks, kākāriki or silvereyes to catch the insects these birds dislodge as they feed. Between 2–4 eggs of variable colouration are laid, the period is generally around 18 days and fledging takes a further 16–19. They featured not only in Māori folklore and legends but also in a number of rites for which individuals were captured. Flocks of whiteheads form part of the hākuturi, a multitude of small birds sometimes called Te Tini o te Hākuturi – The myriads of Hākuturi, the spirit guardians of the forest. In a Ngāti Mahuta story, the culture hero Rata went into the forest and cut down a tree to make a canoe, whiteheads and riflemen whistled shrilly at him in admonishment and gathered together the pieces of the tree until it stood whole again. This happened several times until Rata showed remorse and the birds felled the tree, in some stories, the whitehead was one of several small birds chosen by Māui to accompany him in his quest to abolish death by killing Hine-nui-te-pō, the goddess of night and death. The whitehead, as a messenger between man and the gods, was a very tapu bird and this status was reflected in its role in the tohi rite, a ritual performed over an infant. After the karakia was complete the bird was freed to demonstrate that the mana received would return to the gods when the child died, the whitehead also held this role as a messenger to the gods when a new pā was dedicated. Once the ceremonies were complete a single whitehead was released unharmed, the pā became free of tapu, the purpose of this rite was to bring prosperity and vitality to the pā and its people in times of war and peace. When a candidate was applying to a senior tohunga to become a matakite, or seer, after more ritual the applicant was shut in a hut to sleep with the bird for a night
4. Waitoreke – In New Zealand folklore, the waitoreke is an otter/beaver-like creature. It is usually described as a small animal that lives in the South Island of New Zealand. There are many theories on the true identity, such as it being an otter, beaver or pinniped. The origin of the waitoreke is not well documented, it may have been an invention. It does not occur in Tregears fairly comprehensive Māori dictionary of 1891, despite this, etymologies have been put forward by researchers, Wai is from the Māori word water. This is generally agreed upon, wai or variations thereof are the term for water in Polynesian languages. One of the theory is that to reke translates to the spurs, reke is a specifically Māori term denoting a spear thrust or hair that has been tied into a protruding knot. Toreki is South Island Ngāi Tahu dialect of torengi, and sometimes taken to mean to disappear, according to Tregear, torengi might conceivably used signifying to disappear, but the disappearing act has to be due to being left behind by someone. The meaning may have changed with the dialect, the alternate translation water that was left behind by someone is as plausible, Wai means water, the following syllable to links the word to the spiritual world and the rest of the word means to disappear. A final one is that toreke may be a distortion by the Māori of a name for the animal. The waitoreke is usually described as a small otter-like creature sometimes as big as a cat and it is described as having brownish fur and short legs. The sightings usually place the creature near or in the water on the South Island of New Zealand and its fur is described as being short like that of an otter. Very little physical evidence proving the existence of the waitoreke exists, Julius von Haast is reported to have obtained a waitoreke pelt in 1868. The fur was brown, with spots, and the toes lacked webbing. This is inconclusive evidence, the pelt seems to have resembled a quolls, the common brushtail possum was successfully introduced in 1858 and is now a widespread pest, whereas introduction of the common ringtail possum ultimately failed. Evidence for the existence of the waitoreke is mainly based on accounts of an unidentified amphibious animal in the countrys South Island spanning well over 200 years. The Māori people said that in old times used to keep waitoreke as pets. Recorded in an interview with Tarawhatta of the Ngatomamoes, the date is variously given as 1838 or 1848 in secondary sources
5. Ghosts and spirits in Maori culture – The topic of ghosts and spirits in Māori culture is often considered a tapu subject, yet many Māori legends contain mentions of apparitions and paranormal occurrences. Kikokiko are known in Maori belief as malevolent ghosts that take possession of living people, taniwha are guardian monsters that reside in bodies of water such as rivers or lakes and can appear as sharks, whales, dragons or even floating logs. Following a death, Māori custom requires the body of the dead be returned to its whanau as soon as possible, the whanau is then called onto a marae for a tangihanga to remove sadness and clear the spirits. The ghosts and spirits are called to join those who are living in the afterlife. In modern times, a relative familiar with the procedure may perform the tuku wairua, however priests or ministers, generally Christian, many Māori people believe that the spirits of the dead watch over the living. Upon reaching the tree, the spirits travel down a root to the sea below before uniting with their ancestors, in Māori traditional folklore, there were fairy folk and forest spirits. For instance, Maero is an evil fairy inhabiting forests in the South Island of New Zealand, patupaiarehe are hilltop-living spiritual or otherworldly beings resembling humans in appearance. Turehu are pale-skinned ghostly people living in woodland areas
6. Hakawai – It is now associated with the nocturnal aerial displays made by Coenocorypha snipe. In Māori mythology the Hakawai was one of eleven tapu, or sacred, birds of Raka Maomao, the Hakawai lived in the heavens and only descended to the earth at night. It was considered to be a bird of prey and was described by a Ngāti Apa chief, to the Governor of New Zealand Sir George Grey, as, ”Its colour was red and black. It was a bird of feathers, tinged with yellow and green and it was a large bird, as large as the moa. ”Hearing the Hakawai was considered to be a bad omen, traditionally presaging war. Ornithologists in New Zealand have wondered whether the related to a real bird, whether extinct or still living. The Muttonbird Islands have no permanent human residents but are visited seasonally, from mid March to the end of May, for muttonbirding – the harvesting of sooty shearwater chicks for food and it was heard on calm, moonlit nights and appeared to come from a great height. Miskelly interviewed several muttonbirders who had memories of hearing the sounds of the Hakawai. He found that its apparent range had decreased over the years to the early 1960s when it was heard no more. The non-vocal sounds made by the Hakawai were described variously as “a sound as if a chain was lowered into a boat” a “jet-stream”. The reaction to the sounds by those who heard it was one of fright. The last known individuals of the snipe died in 1964 on Big South Cape Island following the introduction of black rats there. All these displays were performed at night, the most spectacular display included both a vocal and a non-vocal component and this display was indeed hair-raising when I first heard it. The vocal component was a call, repeated five times. This was followed by a roar, similar to a jet passing overhead. The non-vocal component of the call had three stacked bands and lasted for about 1.5 seconds, I found indirect evidence of this on two of the 24 adult male snipe that I handled on South East Island in November 1983-January 1984. Their tail feathers had unusual wear, the shafts of all 14 rectrices had snapped off about 5 mm from the tip, creating a V at the tip of each feather. I attribute this unusual feather wear to vibrational stress during the display, transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Snares Island snipe translocation to Putauhinu Island, April 2005, miskelly, Colin M. Bell, Elizabeth A. Elliott, Graeme P. Walker, Kath J. Hakawai aerial displaying by three populations of subantarctic snipe
7. Manaia (mythological creature) – The Manaia is a mythological creature in Māori culture, and is a common motif in Māori carving and jewellery. The Manaia is usually depicted as having the head of a bird and the tail of a fish and the body of a man, though it is depicted as a bird. Other interpretations include a seahorse and a lizard, the word manaia is cognate with the founding Samoan term faamanaia, and relevant to the Niuean fakamanaia, both meaning to make a decoration or embellishment. The Manaia is traditionally believed to be the messenger between the world of mortals and the domain of the spirits, and its symbol is used as a guardian against evil. In this form, it is represented in a figure-of-eight shape. This form was widely used in designs of door and window lintels and other architectural features. A study of Māori carving suggests that every naturalistic figure there is an equivalent Manaia form which can be seen as a distorted version of the equivalent full-face figure. It may be that the Manaia represents some spiritual or inner facet of the face figure. Related Manaia-like symbols are found in other Polynesian cultures, such as in Hawaii. The manaia is a motif in carving, as it can be distorted to fit any shape. As such, it can be used to fill the empty spaces in wood carving and it is a very common form in Maori jewellery, and is often found worn as a pendant carved from bone or greenstone. Manaia designs vary subtly in form between iwi, though they are depicted as three-fingered, with these digits representing the trinity of birth, life. A fourth finger, representing the circular rhythms of the life cycle, hei-tiki Hei matau Modern Examples of Manaia Carvings
8. Matuku-tangotango – In Māori mythology, Matuku-tangotango is an ogre who kills Wahieroa the son of Tāwhaki. In some versions, Matuku lives in a cave called Putawarenuku, Rātā, the son of Wahieroa, sets off to avenge his murdered father, and arrives at last at Matukus village. He hears from Matukus servant that at the new moon his master can be killed at the pool where he washes his face, when the new moon has come, Rātā waits until the ogre comes out of his cave and is leaning over with his head in the pool. He grabs him by the hair and kills him, Rātā then sets off to rescue his fathers bones from the Ponaturi. A South Island version names the islands where Matuku lives as Puorunuku and Puororangi, Wahieroa was murdered in his sleep by his own slave. Having gained the sought-for plumes, the expedition returned safely through the country of the Ngati-Toko-rakau, after Rata had arrived in Haohao-nui, located in the fortress Awa-rua, Ratas disguised voice was mistaken by Matuku-tangotango for that of Matuku-tangotangos own brother Tahuaroa. The neck of Mataku-tangotango was caught in 3 nooses and was strangled, E. R. Tregear, Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary,1891. John White, The Ancient History of the Maori
9. Te Wheke-a-Muturangi – In Māori mythology, Te Wheke-a-Muturangi is a monstrous octopus destroyed in Whekenui Bay, Tory Channel or at Pātea by Kupe the navigator. The octopus was a pet or familiar of Muturangi, a tohunga of Hawaiki. The wheke was nonetheless a wild creature and a guardian, when Kupe reached New Zealand, he encountered the beast off Castlepoint. The giant octopus then fled across Cook Strait, and was chased by Kupe through Tory Channel, here a great battle took place, and when the octopus appeared to be about to flee, Kupe cut off its arms with his adze, killing it. In the traditions of the Ngāti Ranginui people of Tauranga, Te Wheke-a-Muturangi was killed by their ancestor Tamatea, New Zealand ethnologist David Simmons has suggested that this may be the more authentic tradition, and that the association with Kupe is found only in problematic sources. Simmons, The Great New Zealand Myth, a study of the discovery, E. R. Tregear, Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary,1891,184,620