• How the Sun Connects our World Together

We are proud to be the first in the world to greet the sun each day, to feel the warm rays of the day’s first light on our sacred Maunga.

But while the sunrise and Hikurangi Maunga are an integral part of our identity as Ngati Porou, we certainly aren’t alone in our reverence of the sun. There are many cultures all around the world who share the same awe and respect for it. How it affects our land, and the lives we lead. And as international borders continue to be closed in response to the global pandemic, it felt like the perfect time to look into these other ancient cultures and deities in far away places, so that even without the ability to travel and meet one another, we can still feel connected.

1. Aztec: Sun Stone

Found buried in the 1700s under the town square of Mexico City, this ancient sun stone dates back to the late 15th century. It’s carved from solidified lava and weighs about 24 tonnes, is three feet thick and nearly 12 feet in diameter. It’s unknown what the stone was used for by the Aztecs in their day-to-day, but it is known to predict solar eclipses. The carving design features the Aztec sun God, Tonatuih, in the middle, holding a human heart in each hand. The design is intricate and depicts two calendar systems, and includes ‘unlucky days’ – when natural disasters will likely happen. The care and precision taken in creating the Sun Stone is living proof of the ancient Aztec respect for the sun, and can be seen today in Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology

Aztec Sun Stone. Credit: https://www.worldhistory.org/Sun_Stone/

2. Hinduism: Konark Sun Temple

Surya is the Hindu god of the Sun – also considered the creator of the universe and source of all life. The myth tells the story of him travelling across the sky each day, being pulled by 7 horses and a red Aruna (personification of the sun) in a gold chariot. The Konark Sun Temple (Konark Surya Mandir) was built in 1250 to honor Surya, in a spot that is bathed in sunlight throughout the course of the day. It is carved completely of stone, with intricately-detailed wheels along its impressive walls, their designs paying homage to the months and seasons of the year. Not surprisingly, the Temple is a listed World Heritage Site and carefully maintained. Certainly worth adding to the bucket list.

Konark Sun Temple, India. Credit: https://www.britannica.com/place/Surya-Deula

One of the intricately-carved chariot wheels of the Konark Sun Temple. Credit: https://www.britannica.com/place/Surya-Deula

3. Egyptian: Ra & The Giza Sphinx

Egyptian culture has a long history of sun-worshipping legends. The Ancient Egyptian sun God, Ra, was the king of all the deities and was said to be the creator of everything, and was the key reason for every Ancient Egyptian ruling king to follow and worship the sun. Their pyramids are symbols of the stairway to the sun, and were designed to mimic its rays. In other words, the sun was the cornerstone of the Egyptian way of life for thousands of years.

The Great Sphinx, in Giza, is a huge sculpture made from natural limestone. It is over 19 metres high and lays near the Great Pyramid. The sculpture signifies Ra-Horakhty, another powerful sun God, with the body of a lion and the head of a human. The Sphinx is absolutely a carving to add to your list of travel must-sees.

The Giza Sphinx. Credit: https://www.britannica.com/place/ancient-Egypt/The-New-Kingdom-c-1539-1075-bce

4. Japanese: Sun Goddess Amaterasu

The Grand Shrine, or Ise Jingu, was built in 4BCE and is dedicated to the sun Goddess, Amaterasu. Bi-annual festivals are held at the shrine with traditional Japanese theatre & musical performances, dancing, and poetry recitals. The entranceway to the shrine is a large, sacred gate known as torri. The gate is rebuilt every 20 years as it is said to reenergise the power of the shrine. The red circle on the Japanese flag also symbolises the Amaterasu and the sun, as the emperor is said to be a direct descendant of the goddess herself. It’s a beautiful example of modern culture respecting the sun, and pulling ancient practices into current, everyday life. We can’t be there to take in the sight of the Grand Shrine in person right now, but we’re certainly there in spiritual solidarity.

Torri, Gateway to Ise Grand Shrine. Credit: https://www.worldhistory.org/Ise_Grand_Shrine/

Over thousands of years, these stories and this worship of the sun have guided people’s way of life, their expressions of art, their ruling hierarchies and their connection to the land. The theme still plays a part in their cultures today, and it weaves us all together. We’re honoured that our legend of how Maui slowed the sun is one small, but integral thread in this international story of the sun, and its significance to our ancestors and children to come.

August 16, 2021


Happy New Year! While each and every sunrise is a magical moment we never get tired of, there’s something extra special about the first sunrise of the year, a sign of a prosperous and fulfilling year ahead 👐☀🌄

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #newzealand #nzmustdo #happynewyear
Meri Kirihimete from the Maunga Hikurangi team 🎅🎄 We hope you all have a fantastic festive season with all your loved ones, friends and family!

📷: @nzstuff

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #newzealand #nzmustdo #merikirihimete #nzchristmas
Hikurangi Maunga Track Closed 🚫

Tena tatau, we wish to advise that the Hikurangi track, hut and the Maunga Hikurangi tours are closed until further notice. This closure will be reviewed in early 2022, please check for track status updates on the Maunga Hikurangi website and the Department of Conservation website (search for DOC Hikurangi). 

Ngā manaakitanga, Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou & Pakihiroa Farms Ltd
The nine carvings that stand on top of Maunga Hikurangi represent the legends of Maui and his whanau.

Maui, the founding ancestor of the Ngati Porou people, tells his story through these pou.

See the intricate and exceptionally detailed carvings with your own eyes to truly experience the telling of the legends for yourself.

📷: @mate_szecsei 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
The views are endless as you hike Maunga Hikurangi. A great tip from Lisa: ‘Bring plenty of layers, a sense of adventure, and coffee for the sunrise. Leave at home the fear of heights if you can.’

A challenging hike that is well worth the effort. You may even get to see some iconic kiwi wildlife as you head up there. 🐑⛰

📷: @lisaexploreku

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Dreaming of visiting Maunga Hikurangi? Put the hike on your summer to-do list!

Find your adventure streak, and tackle the maunga so you can be at the top when the first ray of light makes its way over the horizon. 🌄

📷: @travelphotoskiwi 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Nothing beats a golden sunrise! ☀ The views over the mountainous ranges look stunning as the light fills the sky. 

📷: @the_wanderer_photographer 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
If you’re travelling along the East Coast this season, add Te Waha o Rerekohu – the largest Pohutukawa Tree in New Zealand – to your list of sightseeing activities! Pop into a local café on your way to your next destination 🌳🏖

📷: @purenewzealand 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #tewahaorerekohu #pohutukawa
As winter fades, the misty maunga is changing to welcome the earlier sunrises that spring is bringing! ⛰

Our tour up Mount Hikurangi to watch the sun rise over the surrounding mountains and valley is even more stunning during this time of year. 

Find out more here about our Te Urunga Sunrise Experience on our website. 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Mountain mist surround Irawhaaki, one of the nine carvings on Mount Hikurangi.

We are looking forward to sharing his story with you once we reopen our Maunga Hikurangi tours at level 1. 

Until then, stay safe in your bubble and enjoy the extra time you have to soak up the sunshine when it makes an appearance.

📷: Eric Hanson for @purenewzealand 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa