Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Maori Legend of the Kiwi Bird

One day the king of the forest, Tane-mahuta, was walking through the forest.  He looked at his trees and noticed that they looked sick because they were being eaten by the bugs that lived on the forest floor.  So he called all the birds together for a meeting and asked if one would come down from the forest canopy to live on the forest floor and help save the trees.

Not a single bird spoke, so each one was asked in turn.

Tui refused. He was afraid of the darkness down on the ground away from the sun.
Pukeko refused. He found the forest floor too cold and the earth to damp.
Pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, also refused. He was too busy building a nest.

But Kiwi agreed.  He looked at the sun filtering through the high leaves and the damp cold earth, and he looked around and saw his family and said yes. Tane-mahuta was filled with joy, for this little bird had given him hope, but he felt he should still warn Kiwi of what lay ahead...

"Kiwi do you realize that if you do this, you will have to grow thick strong legs so you can rip logs apart, you will lose your beautiful wings and colorful feathers so you blend in with the color of the forest floor. you will not be able to return to the forest roof and will never see the light of day again?"

Kiwi took one last long look at the sun and whispered a quiet...


Since then Tui has worn two white feathers at his throat, the mark of a coward. Pukeko has lived forever in a swamp, with wet feet.  And Pipiwharauroa has never built another nest, instead the cuckoo always lays her eggs in other birds' nests.

But because of Kiwi's great sacrifice, he has become the most well-known and most loved bird of them all.

The Kiwis of New Zealand (Adriana Weil)

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