Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Mahuika's Tales No. 22 The tale of the Kiwi


Mahuika continued telling the stories to the children when they came to see her.  As it was a warm day she suggested they go into the forest which was just a short walk away. She sat them all down and then asked what animals they could find in the forest.
“Animals only come in here to hide” said one boy. Then a little girl said “birds like flowers but it is so dark and cool in here most animals cannot find what they want to eat.”
I will tell you a story about the forest then”, said Muhuika.

One day Tanemahuta one of the ghostly guardians of the forest was walking through the trees that were his children. Many were reaching for the sky when he noticed some of them were beginning to sicken as the bugs and other insects were eating them.
So he told his brother Tanehokahoka the guardian of the skies of this problem. So Tanehokahoka called all his children, the birds of the air, together and asked Tanemahuta to speak to them.
“Something is eating my children the trees," he said. "I need one you to come down from the roof of the forest and to live on its floor to help clean it up so that all my children can be saved. This is important as the trees are your home. Will you come?”
All was quiet and not one bird spoke.
His brother Tanehokahoka then asked the birds in turn.
“Tui, will you come down from the tree tops?”
The Tui bird looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. He looked down at the forest floor and saw the dark cold earth and shuddered with fear.
“No, Tanehokahoka, it is too dark and I am afraid of the dark.”
Tanehokahoka then turned to Pukeko.
“Pukeko, will you come down from the forest’s tree tops?”
Pukeko looked hard at the forest floor and saw how dark and damp it was and shook his head.
“No Tanehokahoka, for it is too damp and I do not want to get my feet wet.” 
All was quiet and not one bird spoke so Tanehokahoka turned to Pipawharauroa.
“Surely you will come, Pipawharauroa?”
Pipawharauroa looked up at the trees and saw the small patches of light from the sky high above and looked over to his family.
“No Tanehokahoka, I am too busy at the moment building my nest.” 
Everything went quiet again and still no bird spoke up. Tanehokahoka felt so unbelievably sad. He knew that if one of his children didn’t come down from the forest roof not only would his brother lose his children the trees, but his own children the birds would lose their homes. So at last he turned to Kiwi.
“O Kiwi, will you come down from the forest tree tops.”
Kiwi looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through. He looked at his family waiting for him to make a decision and then he looked down at the ground and spied a bug crawling in the litter. Automatically he pecked at the insect and swallowed it down. He looked at his family once again then turned to Tanehokahoka.
“Yes, I will.”
Tanehokahoka then turned to the other birds and said, “Tui, because you were too scared to come down to the forest floor you will wear two white feathers at your throat to mark you as a coward.”
“Pukeko, because you did not want to get your feet wet you will forever live in a swamp.”
“Pipiwharauroa, because you were too busy building your nest, from now on you will never build a nest again but risk having to lay your eggs in other birds nests.”
“Kiwi, by you decision to help others and because of your great sacrifice you will be the best known and most loved bird of all.”

Just then another little girl touched Mahuika on the arm and pointed over into the dark bushes. Mahuika looked and with one finger at her lips signaling for them all to be quiet she pointed with another finger to a clump of ferns to the right of her. The children all turned in that direction and saw a Kiwi pecking away at the ground for his food.

Pipawharauroa - Shining Cuckoo who uses other birds nests
Pukeko              - Purple Swamphen who nests in the reeds in the water
Tui                    - Tui (modern name) The photo below shows one of the white feathers of shame on his neck

1 comment:

  1. I love this. I like the simplicity and the practicality of the kiwi's thinking and the comeuppance for all the rest.