• Maori Myths: How Maui Slowed the Sun

Maori Myths: How Maui Slowed the Sun

There is a rich tradition of storytelling in Maori culture, with many a rip-roaring legend that describes the world in a magical way. Because Maunga Hikurangi is the first place in the world to see the sun every day, one of our favourite legends is of course Te Hopu a Maui i a te Ra, or How Maui Slowed the Sun.

Read the story below and then come to the Te Urunga-Tu Sunrise experience for the real deal with one of our master storytellers.

Maunga Hikurangi Gisborne

Maunga Hikurangi is one of the first places in the world to see the sun

Dark Days

Many years ago, the sun raced so fast across the sky that every day the earth was plunged into darkness in no time at all. One evening Maui and his brothers could barely even see their evening meal, a hangi (where hot stones are buried with food, and cooked with the trapped heat) – they were not too happy about this. So Maui announced the idea to his brothers that he’d catch the sun and make it travel more slowly. Maui was a demi-god and had pulled off amazing feats already, like catching the largest fish in the world (the North Island of New Zealand). His brothers still laughed, however: the sun was huge and much too hot to catch.

A special tool and flax ropes

But Maui had a trick up his sleeve – he had the magical jawbone of his ancestor, Murirangawhenua. He convinced the others that it would allow him to catch the sun.

The next day, Maui asked his village to collect flax, and with it they plaited a pile of long ropes that they could use to catch the sun. Maui chanted a karakia (prayer) over the ropes for protection. That night, ropes and supplies in hand, Maui and his brothers set off on the long journey under the cover of darkness, to the place where the sun rose. During the days, they would hide under trees so that the sun wouldn’t see them coming. Along the way, they collected water in calabashes.

Eventually they came to a deep, scorched pit in the earth where the sun was sleeping. Maui instructed his brothers to soften the surrounding clay so that they could build clay huts, to protect themselves from the sun’s fiery heat when it rose. They then arranged the ropes into a noose around the pit and waited.

A skirmish with the sun

Soon morning came – the sun woke and started to rise. The heat was so great the brothers screamed in fear and tried to run away, but Maui commanded them to stay. It was a matter of staying to fight the sun or being killed by the sun’s fireballs as they tried to escape.
So the brothers pulled on the ropes and trapped the sun as it rose, which grew angry when it realised what was happening.
Maui then pulled out the jawbone and, braving the heat, struck the sun powerfully. The sun roared and thrashed in anger.
Maui commanded the sun to slow down – “No longer will you dictate the length of our days – from now on you will travel slowly across the sky!”
After a long and violent fight, and a few more jawbone strikes, the sun finally gave up – and agreed to slow down. The brothers let go of the ropes, and the tired sun drifted slowly to the sky.

The days grew longer

From then on, Maui and his people had more than enough time to fish, work and gather food, and the sun continued to travel slowly across the sky.
And that is the story of how Maui slowed the sun – a legend that is brought to life among the 9 carved pillars and the stories of the guides, when you visit Maunga Hikurangi for the world’s first sunrise.

October 30, 2020

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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
Even though our world may feel very disconnected right now, our respect for the sun and its attributes may connect us than we think. 

Now feels like the perfect time to learn about how other cultures also respect the sun. We look at a few in a recent blog. 

Visit our website’s blog section to read more. ☀

📷: @whencyclopedia 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #isegrandshrine
As our day begins and the sun rises over the maunga, we encourage you all to take a moment to step outside and appreciate the sun’s rays. 

These times during lockdown can be unpredictable. But just taking a moment to appreciate what we have around us will make this time more enjoyable. 

We hope you are keeping safe, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon. Kia haumaru te noho 🌄

📷: Eric Hanson for @purenewzealand 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #nzlockdown
We love seeing the morning sun casting its rays on Maunga Hikurangi – it never gets old! The nine carved pou (pillars) depict Maui and his whanau, and they stand on the maunga waiting for the sun to rise each morning. 🌞🌄 

📷: @jesswawatai 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #maui
The seed planting that all visitors get to take part in on one of our tours is for the purpose of native plant re-generation on Maunga Hikurangi. Local, native trees in Raukumara Forest Park include rata, rimu, tawa, totara, kahikatea and beech. 🍒🌲

Be part of the eco-project by joining one of our tours, and experience the incredible views - perfect for a photo opportunity!

Discover more on the ‘Experiences’ page of our website.

📷: @belinda.macdonald 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #kahikateaberries
Winter is upon us, yet the sun still rises each morning over Maunga Hikurangi. Join us for a day of culture on our Haramai Day Tour Experience! Stand with nine huge, carved sculptures as you listen to stories of our local history.

Find out more on our website under ‘Experiences’. 

#nzwinter #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #suncarvings
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