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Archive for 'maori'

U is for Utu

U

Utu is a Maori word. If asked, I would have defined utu as revenge for wrong doings. I’m sort of right, but when I double-checked the definition, I discovered it means much more.

According the the NZ History site, utu is maintaining the balance and harmony within society. Each wrong needs to be put right, but the method of correcting the balance to obtain harmony again varies. And this is where revenge steps right up to the plate!

An example – If the balance within a tribe or between tribes was upset, one form of utu was muru. Muru is where personal property is seized in lieu or compensation for the offence. The matter was then considered resolved.

However, if this didn’t work, then a tribe might carry out a taua, which was a hostile expedition or a straight out war. There were different levels of taua.

Taua muru – a bloodless plundering

Taua ngaki mate/taua roto – violent action

So there you have it – the ins and outs of utu.

In the fictional sense, I think revenge makes for an exciting plot full of twists and turns. One of my favorite types of plot to write.

Do you like revenge plots?

T is for Taniwha

T

I was brought up hearing tales from Maori mythology. Everyone in New Zealand knows of Maui who fished our country from the sea. One particular beast from the legends has always fascinated me, and that’s the taniwha.

The taniwha (pronounced tan-e-fa) is a Maori monster, a ferocious beast that ate naughty children and devoured warriors and other hapless people who found themselves in the wrong place. They live in lakes, rivers and the sea and some live in caves. Some taniwha are friendly—if the local villagers gave them regular food offerings—while others are plain nasty and kill anyone who crosses their path.

In 2002 construction on a highway in the Waikato region of New Zealand was halted because local Maori said the road works were disturbing a taniwha. The portion of road that was being improved was a bad accident site and it was said the taniwha was responsible for the high death toll.

In a Herald story, Dr Ranginui Walker said “like most cultures, Maori use mysticism to explain the inexplicable or grossly unlucky, like a branch falling from a tree and killing a man walking under it at that moment. Europeans might call it the hand of God, Maori might blame tipua, an evil spirit living in the tree. All beliefs require a leap of faith that defy rational explanation.”

The road building finally continued after consultation and negotiations between locals and Transit NZ.

Make That Man Mine

A few years ago, I wrote a taniwha shifter romance called Make That Man Mine. Here’s the blurb:

On her 25th birthday Emma Montrose decides it’s time to show bad boy investigator, Jack Sullivan she’s more than an efficient secretary. She’s a woman with needs, and she wants him.

Jack is a taniwha, a shifter, who requires women to satiate the sexual demands of the serpent within. Nothing more. Then work forces the reluctant Jack and ecstatic Emma undercover as a couple. Thrown together, pretence and reality blur generating hot sex laced with risk…

H is for Haka

H

The haka is a Maori war dance or a challenge, which is performed by males. The word haka actually means dance and in the past, women used to take part too.

These days, many of our sports teams do the haka. The All Blacks, our rugby team, do the haka before each game against another country. It’s a challenge to their opposition. Our Sevens rugby team perform the haka if they win a tournament. You might have seen them during do their haka after their recent win at the Hong Kong tournament. They take off their shirts and…

*waving face*

More about the Sevens later. Our defence forces sometimes do a haka at a funeral for fallen comrades or during other ceremonial times, such as when they ship out of a country–a kind of a farewell.

Below is a series of videos featuring the haka.

 

And it’s back to my favorite haka – the one the New Zealand Sevens Rugby team does every time they win a tournament. This is the haka they performed recently, in the rain at Hong Kong.

 

Have you heard of the haka before?

The Cheeky Fantail

The fantail or piwakawaka is one of our native birds. This year we’ve seen quite a few in our garden and also while we’ve been walking Bella. They’re tiny birds with a tail that fans out—as their name suggests—and they live on a diet of insects. They like to follow people when they’re walking, which gets a bit creepy. I’d call it stalkerish, but in reality they’re snatching up the insects that are disturbed with each footstep. I guess it’s takeaway for birds.

The fantail has a very distinctive cheet-cheet and the birds never seem to keep still. They’re very difficult to photograph because they’re always in motion.

Fantail

Fantail

Fantail

These photos were taken at Christ Church in Russell.

The Maori people consider it bad luck if a fantail flies inside a building. They say the fantail is a messenger and it’s appearance means death or news of death is imminent.

I had one fly inside the house a few months ago, which didn’t make me very happy. The fantail was hanging around outside for days. I’d hear it and shut the door since the bird seemed determined to fly inside our house. I shooed it back outside (they seem fairly smart and don’t divebomb windows in panic like some birds) and waited for news. Thankfully I didn’t receive any news of death.

The fantail is a cute bird, but I do prefer to see them outdoors!

Have you had birds fly inside your house before?

New Zealand Maori Pouwhenua

Maori carvings tell a story, and we have a form of totem pole, called pou or pouwhenua here in New Zealand. They’re like carved poles and were used by the Maori to mark boundaries.

Mr Munro snapped photos of these pou up at Paihia in the north of the North Island.

Pou, Paihia

Pou

Pou. Paihia

Pou, Paihia

Pou, Paihia

I’m not sure what story these pou told, but they were definitely interesting!

Fishing up New Zealand.

I enjoy some of the Maori myths and legends. This one, telling of Maui and the birth of New Zealand, is one of my favorites. As with all legends, there are a few variations.

Maui was a demi-god who possessed magical powers. Not all his family knew of his magical powers, and he used this to his advantage.

One day, 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, however they weren’t able to take him back to shore because Maui made use of his magic powers and made the shoreline seem farther away than it was in reality.

The brothers continued rowing, and once they were far out into the ocean Maui dropped his magic fishhook over the side of the waka (canoe). After a while he felt a strong tug on the line. This seemed to be too strong a tug to be any ordinary fish, and Maui called to his brothers for assistance.

After much straining and physical effort, up surfaced Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui), known today as the North Island of New Zealand. Maui told his brothers that the Gods might be angry about this, and he asked them to wait while he went to placate the Gods.

However, once Maui had gone his brothers began to argue about the ownership 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.

The South Island is known as Te Waka a Maui (the waka of Maui). 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.

So, there you have it – the story of the origin of New Zealand.

Do you have a favorite myth or legend?

Today it’s my turn to blog at The Danger Zone. Check out my post about my adventures in Rwanda while viewing the mountain gorillas.