Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Mahuikas Tales No. 13 Hekeheke's story of Matarika

                              The Little Eyes or Matarika (Pleiades)

Mahuika and Hekeheke were by themselves taking it in turns to comb each others hair when Mahuika said “Do you know any stories that I may not have heard Hekeheke?”

Hekeheke stopped what she was doing and laughed “You want me to tell you a story you do not know and yet you know them all?” She came round to face Mahuika and bent towards her, then rubbed noses and looked at her with love in her eyes. “A long time ago I heard a story that was both sad and beautiful but I do not think I have ever heard it told since.”

So then the two of them lay down on their mats and Hekeheke began her story.

A long, long time ago there was a large and bright star in the sky that was so beautiful that all the other stars seemed to fade in its presence. Even the great god of light Tane who was also the lord of the forests on earth was cross. “This is not right” he said. “The people of the world are not looking at the beauty of the trees in their land and praising them but looking far in to the sky yearning for the beauty of that star so very far away.” Tane was so cross that he decided to destroy the beautiful star and sought the help of Whaka-Ahu (Orion)and Atutahi (Canopus) two of the other biggest stars in the sky.

However there was a little lake almost hidden in the hills whose depth was such that the stars that were reflected on its placid surface were made even more beautiful as people could sit and gaze down comfortably on to the lake rather than stretch their heads up to see the stars and when a breeze from the east played gently across the surface of the lake the reflection of the stars broke up and turned them into a thousand smiles. And the little lake loved this bright star the most.

Later when the East wind told the lake what the god Tane had suggested she was determined to warn the bright star of the danger and said, “How can we do this my friend the wind?”

“I do not know beautiful lake but surely Rangi the god of the heavens who spreads the jewels of the night across the skies will want to help the most beautiful treasure.” With that the East wind whisked away over the hills and was gone.

As the sun shone brightly the following morning the little lake pleaded with Rangi to help. When Rangi heard about Tane's plans he was furious at the news. “The heat of my rays will shine on you and heat you up and your water will rise up with the mists of the clouds and then you can tell the beautiful star that you love, of the danger it is in.”

And so it was that the following day the sun beat down on the lake and mists rose from its surface and formed soft clouds and these ascended climbing the mountainside and rose higher and higher and then the East wind came along and guided the clouds to the beautiful star and they told it of the danger. Then as the cloud descended back down to earth it formed cool raindrops and fell back down into the lake again.

Now that the star had been warned it was ready when Tane and his followers Whaka-Ahu and Atutahi chased it from its place in the sky, on and on the bright star flew until at last it took refuge in the waters of the little lake which had so often been brightened by its light.

“Save me, save me dear little lake”  the star said as it plunged into the depths of the water but Atutahi saw it hiding there and drained the waters of the lake and chased the star off again.

The bright star flew on to the east to Tane’s great highway in the sky thinking that “Surely I will be safe here hiding in the brightness of the sun” but when Tane saw Atuhahi he was very angry that he couldn’t catch the bright star now he grabbed Whaka-Ahu his companion and threw him at the beautiful star and shattered it into pieces which formed six separate stars which now always stay together in the night sky.”

These are now known as the Little Eyes or Matariki, which twinkle brightly in the southern skies. When they are first seen people say “Good, the New Year has come, look how the eyes sparkle so it must be time for feasting and gladness.”

Mahuika looked at Hekeheke with such love she cried and hugged her to herself. “You have told the story so beautifully, Hekeheke. Perhaps it is almost time we found you a husband.”

“Do men like storytellers, Mahuika?”

Mahuika smiled and nodded, “Husbands love you more when you tell them old stories, they relax and want to hold you and be closer to you.”

"Should we tell the children this story, Mahuika?"

Mahuika nodded, "Yes, especially if we can the see the stars shining at night." 






  1. Interesting that she managed to work in the water cycle, too. Se did indeed tell it wll.

  2. An interesting piece you have shared here! I always look forward to your posts.