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Ethnology of Tongareva

Legend of Maahu and Maui

Legend of Maahu and Maui

The stars were originally in one mass like the sun and the moon. The original single star was divided up by Maahu. Maahu and Maui had a competition to see which could throw the other higher into the air. Maui threw Maahu so high that he reached close to the heavens, where he heard the following disparaging remark: “Ko wai tera upoko raparapa te hoki ra ki raro?” (Who is that flathead going back below there?)

On reaching the earth, Maahu asked Maui to throw him higher, and this time he reached the heavens. He saw three people there, namely Ra (sun), Marama (moon), and Hetu (star). He asked them which had spoken the evil of him. Ra and Marama told him it was Hetu. Thereupon, Maahu broke Hetu up into fragments and sprinkled the pieces over the surface of the heavens.