In which we celebrate the Gift of Stories with a Maori tale

The Origin of Fire (Maori) Fire had disappeared from the world. Mahuika, the mother of fire, lived in the underworld, and each of her fingers was a child of fire. 

Maui the trickster, didn't wish for fire to come back to the world, so he asked Mahuika to give him one of her fingers of fire. When he returned to the world, Maui extinguished the flame by pouring water onto it.

Maui went to Mahuika again and told her that he had lost the first finger. Maui returned to the world again with the second finger and extinguished the flame.

Returning again and again, Maui eventually tricked Mahuika into giving him each of her fingers except for the last one.

Finally, Mahuika realized she had been deceived and threw her last finger into the forest of the world, causing a great fire to spread through the forest. Mahuika pursued Maui into the burning forests.

Fearing for his life, Maui took the form of a forest eagle and prayed to Tawhiri-matea, the god of storms, to bring forth rain, and a great flood fell upon the earth.

Knowing that she would perish if the fire were to be extinguished, Mahuika ran into the world to save her child.

Realizing that she was losing the battle against the great flood, Mahuika hid in the kaikomako tree with her last remaining finger of flame. There she perished while her finger slept.

To this day, Mahika's sleeping child can be woken by rubbing together the dry wood of the tree, bringing forth once again the fire of Mahuika.


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