te ika

types of new zealand children

  • you were born on the west coast. black sand and thrashing waters, the kind of dangerous parents warn their children about. you could swim before you could walk, and you can feel the ocean in your bones, a soft ache that will never go away
  • you were born in canterbury. winter is nothing more than a warm embrace to you. your body convulses and shifts endlessly like the land below you, and your whole existence feels on edge. rise and fall
  • you were born in the wetlands. you know rebirth better than any, and yet you still feel trapped. you wake early every morning, and you know just how silent the farm can be. your life is an endless cycle of this knowing and yet you can never do anything but watch
  • you were born in te hiku-o-te-ika. the old gods still live inside of the earth, and you are surrounded by them. tane mahuta stands tall and so do you. breathe in, you exist at the top of aotearoa
  • you were born in the alpine mountains of otago. land of the red earth, isolated village, you are difficult to get to and difficult to understand. you are calmest when the wind is thin and the snow cold. poor child, you will never be able to comprehend your vastness
  • you were born in the cities. there is a disconnect in your identity, and no matter how many times you shift around, you will never feel at home until the hum of traffic has settled under your skin
  • you were born in the king country. war torn kid with too much blood on your knees, in your mouth, on your arms. there’s a rage inside of you that will never go away, but nor will the strength that comes from the bones of the kings in the soil below you
  • you were born in marlborough. the dry season has lasted several years, and you just want to know when everything will feel okay again. soon, i promise you
  • you were born on the volcanic plateau. you will never know where you belong, but that’s okay. nowhere will be able to contain you but the open vastness of the desert road. you are all too much, from lake taupo to mount ruapehu, you are unknowable
  • you were born in the bay of plenty. you have never known hunger, but you know suffering. you are the softest of children, raised on summer warmth and placid rivers that you know better than the back of your hand
  • you were born in heretaunga. you survived a place that wanted you dead. through the floods, the earthquakes, and the droughts, you still stand. you are so much stronger than you know
Māori Space Vocabulary

Originally posted by remystic

Tātai Arorangi - Astronomy
Whānau a Tamanuiterā - Solar System
Kōmaru - Sun
- Sun
Whiro - Mercury
Takero - Mercury
Kōpū - Venus (summer dawn)
Tāwera - Venus (summer dawn)
Rereahiahi - Venus (summer dusk)
Mermere - Venus (winter dawn)
Meremere tū ahiahi - Venus (winter dusk)
Ao - Earth
Matawhero - Mars
Kōpūnui - Jupiter
Hineitīweka - Jupiter
Rangawhenua - Jupiter
Pareārau - Saturn
Rongo - Saturn
Wherangi - Uranus
Tangaroa - Neptune
Whiro - Pluto
Ahoroa - Moon
Marama - Moon
Māhina - Moon
Atarau - Moon
Whetūao - Planet
Whetū mārama - Planet
Aorangi - Planet (modern word)
Whetū - Star
Kāhui - Constellation
Kōtiritiri - Meteor, shooting star
Kōtiri - Meteor, shooting star
Mangōroa - Milky Way
Te Ika o te Rangi - Milky Way
Matariki - Pleiades (It’s appearance is seen as the star of a new year for Māori)
Auahitūroa - Comet

(I’ll upload a pronunciation guide for Māori soon)

Maori Mythology

Hello! My name is Chloe and I am your friendly local New Zealand witch. Quite often New Zealand is grouped in with Australia (or left out altogether) and while Australia is great, we are great all on our own, too! We have some really interesting mythology and legends that I want to tell you all about. Quick note: I am going on what I learned at school, through my own research and growing up in this country. If I get something wrong, please let me know!

Let’s start at the beginning:

For those who don’t know, New Zealand is a little country in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean. We have two major islands: the North (Te Ika-a-Maui) and the South (Te Waipounamu), along with around 600 smaller islands. Because we are SO far away from everything else, we were one of the last lands to be settled by humans.

Sometime between 1250 and 1300 CE, Polynesians settled in the islands (later to be named New Zealand) and developed a distinctive Maori culture. In 1642 Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand but in 1840, the British declared sovereignty over the islands. Note: there is A LOT of history here. The English didn’t exactly treat Maori people with a whole lot of respect. Google ‘The Treaty of Waitangi’ if you’d like to know more. It’s a whole separate post that deserves a lot more time.


There aren’t many records on Maori mythology that survived after European contact. The missionaries that came to New Zealand had the best opportunity to get information however they failed to do so. Their knowledge of the language was imperfect and those who did master it were unsympathetic to Maori beliefs, and thought of them as ‘works of the devil’. There are some exceptions to this, however and some records survived or were passed down through families.
For this post, along with my own knowledge, I am using Wikipedia.

The three story cycles are:

  • The cosmogonic genealogies relating to the origins of gods and people:
  1. Rangi and Papa
  2. Hine-nui-te-po
  • The Maui complex of myths:
  1. Maui
  2. Irawaru
  3. Tinirau and Kae
  • The Tawhaki complex of myths:
  1. Tawhaki
  2. Wahieroa
  3. Rata
  4. Matuku-tangotango
  5. Tuwhakararo
  6. Whakatau
  7. Whiro

In the interest of not having this post be a mile long, I’ll talk a little about Maui, as that is one of my favourites. If people are interested, I am happy to do more! Or, feel free to Google any of the above.


In Maori mythology, as in other Polynesian traditions, Maui is a culture hero who is famous for his exploits and trickery. His last, fatal trick was on the Goddess Hine-nui-te-po. In attempting to make mankind immortal by changing into a worm, entering her vagina and leaving by her mouth while she slept, he is crushed with the obsidian teeth in her vagina.

There are a lot of stories surrounding Maui and the different things he got up to and accomplished. The following is my favourite:

Using the sacred jaw bone, this time as a fish hook, Maui - using blood from his nose for bait - hauls up a great fish from the depths of the sea. When it emerges, he goes to find a priest to perform the appropriate ceremonies and prayers, leaving his brothers in charge of the fish. They do not wait for Maui, however, and begin to cut up the fish to grab their share. The fish immediately begins to writhe in agony causing it to break up into mountains, cliffs and valleys. If the brothers had listened to Maui, the island would have been a level plain and people would have been able to travel with ease on its surface. Thus, the North Island is known as Te Ika-a-Maui, The Fish of Maui.

Maui’s canoe became the South Island, with Banks Peninsula marking the place supporting his foot as he pulled up the extremely heavy fish. The other Maori name for the South Island is Te Waka-a-Maui, The canoe of Maui.

Originally posted by panajan

I hope you enjoyed learning a little about the mythology of New Zealand! There is so, so much more to it and this is jut a little taste. I have so many favourites that I wouldn’t mind p;osting about so we’ll see. Please let me know if you enjoyed this or if you want to see more, or if I messed up and need to change something!


I know everything is on fire right now except for the bits that are shit, but I need a moment to talk about Moana. I only just saw it because, ironically, I was busy sailing around the Pacific when it came out in NZ and once I got back everybody I knew had already seen it and raved about how I had to see it, so I had motivation but not a lot of opportunity.

The TL;DR version is “I sobbed through the entire movie but in the Good Way, not the Rogue One way” (which is not a bad way but is a very different way). 

The longer version is: I mean, yeah, there are some issues with this movie, especially regarding what they did with Māui and his backstory (like, how can he be Māui-pōtiki if - but I’m gonna leave that for Māori and Pasifika voices to discuss). But it was a big Disney princess musical about the place I am from, and so I cried. A lot. At everything. 

Because here is the thing, when you are mostly into genre fiction and from a tiny country at the back end of nowhere, like NZ, once you get away from children’s and YA fiction, where there are a lot of NZ authors doing a stand-up job, genre fiction is never about where you’re from. Even the plants and animals are strange*. Snakes and badgers and foxes are almost as exotic as dragons - at least animals like lions you can see at the zoo. (I read a lot of Redwall books as a kid and you’re never really going to convince me badgers don’t wear armour.) If you’re Pākehā then people in books and movies will look like you (and I don’t discount the importance of that at all), but they don’t sound like you or think like you. They’re never from where you’re from. Their myths are certainly not the myths you grow up hearing. 

But this was a movie where the grass looked like my grass, the ocean looked like my ocean, the stars looked like my stars, the people spoke like my people, and they looked like the Māori and Pasifika people I went to school with and work with and see around me every day, the ones who are never there normally. It looked and sounded like home. And if it was like that for me then I can only imagine how powerful it was for Māori and Pasifika to see. 

I don’t know. I was born in Te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui, the head of Māui’s fish, the one he hooked up with his grandmother’s jawbone. IT WAS A LOT. 

*side-note: this unfamiliarity with European/American architecture and flora and fauna on a day-to-day basis, with some exceptions, also leads to things like me, age twenty-one, in France freaking out because I just saw a BEAVER and it was REAL and it’s JUST LIKE NARNIA while the French people around me and my family were like “????it’s a beaver?????”