Legends from around the globe

Maori legends ( New Zealand indigenous people )

How the North Island was created…

Maui, a demigod, was not liked by his brothers – they would never let him go fishing with them!

So one day, Maui snuck into their canoe as they went fishing. The brothers weren’t happy when they found out he was there, but they couldn’t send him home as they were a long way away from the shore, so Maui was allowed to stay. 

While sitting on the boat with his brothers, Maui placed his magic fishhook overboard into the sea. He felt something tugging on it, so yanked at it until a massive fish popped up to the surface. This fish was the North Island of New Zealand.

Maui decided that he needed to go and talk to the gods to ensure that they weren’t angry about the discovery of the giant fish, but while he was gone, his 2 brothers started fighting each other. They used their swords and jabbed at the north island, creating the mountains and valleys we see today. 

It is actually believed that the South Island was in fact the canoe and that Stewart Island was it’s anchor.

The Battle of the Mountains…

Once, there were 4 mountain warriors: Tongariro, Taranaki, Tauhara and Putauaki. They were competing for a maiden mountain – Pihanga. 

Tongariro won the battle, married Pihanga, then had a child, called Pukeronaki, with her. 

The other 3 mountain warriors decided they should leave and get as far away from Tongariro’s territory as possible, before the sun fixed them in their places. Putauaki went east, Taranaki headed west and Tauhara travelled so slowly ( he was too heartbroken and hung up on Pihanga to go any faster ) that he only reached the other end of the lake. 

The Story of Creation…

At the very beginning there was only Te Kore (nothingness). Then one day the parents of the Maori appeared: Papatuanuku, the earth mother and Ranginui, the sky father. 

These 2 parents embraced in the darkness and created 70 male children ( the gods of the Maori ). All but one of these children were unhappy about being stuck in between their mother and father. So they decided to separate the pair, pushing Ranginui upwards to the sky and Papatuanuku down towards the earth.

Each of the children tried but none of them succeeded, until Tane-Mahuta , the god of man and forests, gave it a go. He put his shoulders against his mother and his feet against his father. Then he pushed and pushed until the embrace was broken, his parents cried out in pain, but it was too late, they had already been split.

The children finally got to see light, but Tawhiri Matea, the god of winds and storms, was not pleased. He had never agreed with this separation and so went to join his father in the sky. Nowadays, any strong winds and storms are believed to be caused by Tawhiri in revenge for his brother’s actions.

1st Australian ( AKA Aboriginal ) legends

The Kangaroo and the Wombat…

Once, there lived Mirram the kangaroo  and Warreen the wombat. They both lived in the same camping ground but Mirram slept outside under the stars and Warreen slept within the comfort of a tent.

One night a terrible storm broke out. Mirram got soaked, his fire burnt out and he was freezing cold. So he decided to ask Warreen if he could share his tent for that night. Warreen said no. “There is not enough space,” he exclaimed ( although there clearly was ). 

Mirram went back outside but things just got worse. He became more and more miserable by the second. So he decided to ask Warreen again if he could share his tent for that night. Warreen shouted at Mirram to get out of his tent. “There isn’t enough space,” he said ( although there clearly was ). 

Mirram left the tent, but this time he was angry. So while Warreen was sleeping, he snuck into the tent and slammed a rock onto Warreen’s forehead. This did not kill Warreen but just flattened his forehead. “Now you and all your children and grandchildren will wonder the world with  flat heads as a sign of your selfishness,” said Mirram to the angry Wombat.

From that day onwards, Warreen sought revenge on Mirram. While they were out hunting, he threw a spear at Mirram with so much force that Mirram could not get it out. “HaHa” said Warreen, “from this day onwards you and your children shall carry this spear in your back and be homeless forever.”

Ever Since then, Kangaroos have lived without homes and have had long tails, and Wombats have had flat foreheads as a sign of their selfishness.

The Creation Myth…

( There are many different creation stories amongst different aboriginal groups – this is just one of them. )

At the beginning, there was only bare land and darkness. There was absolutely no life on earth – nothing! No plants. No animals. No humans. 

The creator’s name was Wandjina. This god walked across the earth, bringing our ancestors from within the earth and over the seas.

It is in fact believed that our ancestors could change shape.

How the Sun was made…

Once, an emu egg was thrown so high into the sky that it hit a huge pile of wood which had been collected by Ngoudenout ( a cloud man ). The wood, which had been hit with such a great force, suddenly burst into flames, flooding the earth with sunlight.

The whole of the planet basked in the sunlight. Every living thing enjoyed its warmth, however eventually it started to burn out and soon the light was gone.

Ngoudenout saw how much everybody enjoyed the sun and so made it his mission to give it to us all forever. Every time the sun burns out, he wanders into the forest and collects a pile of wood which he lights at dawn. The fire burns and burns until noon when it then starts to burn away. Finally, at twilight the fire has completely burnt out and Ngoudenout makes his way to the forest in order to repeat the cycle again. 

Plains Indian legends ( Indigenous people from the USA )

The Origin of Strawberries…

This legend is from the Cherokee tribe

A long time ago, there was only one man and one woman. They were happy but they fought a lot. 

So one day, the woman decided to leave her husband. She walked away without looking back.The man wanted his wife back very much – he missed her.

The sun felt sorry for the husband and decided to help him get his wife back.

The sun placed lots of berries in the woman’s path, but each time she just ignored them and kept walking. Until some bright red fruit was placed in front of her – strawberries! These were the first strawberries ever to be created and they made the woman stop. 

When she paused, she remembered the man she had left behind and retraced her steps to meet with him again.

The Creation Myth…

This legend is from the Pawnee tribe

Once there was a male star and a female star. They were the morning star and the evening star.

The morning star tried to chase the evening star to make love to her, but she avoided him because she believed that it wasn’t the right time. 

While she was being chased, the evening star threw obstacles in her admirers’ way. 

One of these obstacles was an endless sheet of water sitting by a great serpent. The evening star threw an enormous fireball at it in his attempts to get to the star that he was chasing. The fire caused the serpent to flee underneath the water and dried up enough of the water to reveal a load of earth and rocks. Morning star then threw a pebble at the chaos and it became earth. 

Tirawa, the god of everything, appointed 4 smaller gods called North, East, South and West to look over this new planet. 

Eventually the morning star caught up to the evening star and they made love to each other, creating a daughter. Meanwhile the sun and the moon created a son. Alongside the stars’ daughter, the son travelled to earth, and they become the first ever human beings.

The passing of the buffalo…

This legend is from the Kiowa tribe

A long time ago, the people and the buffalo lived together in harmony. They loved each other very much and if someone ever killed a buffalo, they would ensure that every single part was used up (they even used the tongue as a hairbrush) in respect to the creature.

However, one day, the whites came. They started messing up the system and the way of life of the plains indians and the buffalo. 

This made the buffalo angry. So they fought the whites. They fought armies and they fought hunters until eventually it was too much, the whites had won.

Finally, there was only one buffalo herd left – they were incredibly battle worn. They headed to the mountains and it is said that when they got there, the mountain opened up and swallowed them whole where they ventured to new lands as beautiful and peaceful as the ones they had before the whites came.

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