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Fascinating Myths and Legends of New Zealand Maori

Maori myths and legends of New Zealand have endless variations that offer a fascinating take on New Zealand’s origins. The Māori are indigenous Polynesian people who arrived in New Zealand between 1200 and 1300 from eastern Polynesia and lived on New Zealand’s North Island. They started their journey from the legendary homeland of Hawaiki, one of the Polynesian islands, searching for greater land space in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The voyage became known as the “Great Fleet” as the Māori tribe endured a hard journey to reach Aotearoa. Through tailor-made luxury holidays, many tourists flock to these areas to experience the Māori culture, learn their history and understand the Maori myths and legends of New Zealand.

Let’s look at some of the deeper fascinating myths and legends that circulate in New Zealand and take a look at its rich cultural tradition.

Māui caught and fished up the North Island

One of the popular myths of the Maori people is that they feel Māui, the mischievous demigod, hauled up the Pacific Ocean and the North Island is the fish that Māui caught. Today people consider everything from the mountains, lakes, and valleys that populate the North Islands landscape to be Maui. Make sure you visit Mount Hikurangi on the North Island’s East Cape, which is sacred to the local tribe. During your travel in New Zealand, hire a local Māori guide with the help of luxury leisure travel companies to know the legends and stories of the local milieu. Gasp in wonder at the amazingly carved representations of the Māui locales and historical sites.

Tāne creates the world of light and separates the Earth and the Sky

In Maori history, Tane Mahuta is the originator of human life who, with his brothers, created the world of light, separating their parents, Ranginui and Papatūānuku. Tane Mahuta is one of the largest surviving kauri trees in the Waipoua forest, where you get to hear some fascinating myths about God, the separation of sky father and earth mother, and the unique habitats. Explore the trees, some of which are gigantic and over 2,000 years old! Visitors can hear Māori legends of the forest here. Luxury leisure travel companies in their itinerary help travellers to visit the Waipoua Forest on the northwestern coast of the North Island. Get guided tours to explore this unique natural haven that features 40 species of plants, ferns and nesting birds.

The legendary supernatural creature Taniwha

In New Zealand, folklore believes there are supernatural monsters or creatures named Taniwha. It is said that they are more reptile-like, resemble serpents, and are shark-like figures with webbed feet that live within the oceans, rivers, lakes, and caves of New Zealand. The Maori clan believes in the existence of these creatures, as they think it was caught by a chief who kept them as a pet in the river, and they’re tribe guardians; therefore, people offer gifts to the Taniwha. While travelling as an adventurer, you might see an aerial view of the Milford Sound weaving between two mountainous peaks and feel the presence of Taniwha lurking in the depths of the Milford Sound. There are even guided hikes and boat tours that help visitors see the magnificent Māui carvings.

Paikea, the original Whale Rider

While embarking on luxury group holidays, if you are inquisitive, then at the Gisborne district, New Zealand, you might learn interesting facts about the spiritual bond between humans and the natural world. They say that there was a Māori ancestor, Paikea, who journeyed into Aotearoa, New Zealand, on the back of a whale called Tohora. Despite several hardships, Paikea arrived safely on the East Cape of the North Island on the back of the Tohorā whale, and this story inspired an award-winning film of the same name. While in New Zealand, if you board a Kaikoura whale-watching tour on the South Island, you will encounter majestic whales and witness nature by being connected with the legendary stories of Paikea.

The famous love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai

Every place has its unique story, and the Maori have their own stories to explain the star-crossed lovers Hinemoa and Tutanekai, who were New Zealand’s own Romeo and Juliet. Despite their differences in social standing, this tale has a happy ending as people watch their love from far across the shores of Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua. Now you get to hear their story, imagine the events that took place, soak in Hinemoa’s pool and enjoy the traditional welcome ceremony and delicious Maori food from members of the local Te Arawa tribe at Rotorua. 

These are some of the many Māori legends and myths circulating in New Zealand with stories about Gods, astronomy, and tales that surface around the hero’s initial reluctance and the idea of the cosmic egg. We hope you got a better depth into the culture of Maori with tailor-made luxury holidays. It can be interesting for a traveller to unwind and discover their mythological traditions on the way.

Author Bio: Rhodri Andrews

Rhodri Andrews is the Head of Content at SevenTravel, a luxury travel company based in Mayfair, London, that specialises in once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Through his natural curiosity and passion for travel, he also brings SevenTravel’s one-of-a-kind experiences to life, from trekking through the Patagonian wilderness to exploring Morocco’s souks and medinas. 

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