This carving relates to a story about the goddess of death, Hine-nui-te-pō (top), and the demigod Māui. Māui attempted to kill Hine-nui-te-pō and overcome death by entering her body and climbing to her mouth. However, the moho pererū (banded rail) laughed at him and awoke the goddess. She closed her legs, crushing Māui to death. In some versions of the story, it is a tīwaiwaka (fantail) that alerts Hine-nui-te-pō.
Using this item
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.