Anonymous asks:

I came across the story of Kupe and the giant octopus of Muturangi and find it really interesting! But I’m having a difficult time following all the (Maori?) words in the text… If you know the story, could you provide a summary of it? And is it popular or well known in New Zealand, or actually an obscure piece of folklore?

I wouldn’t say it’s obscure, but it’s not one of the stories I was taught at school; I know it because I happen to have a Maori language textbook that draws a lot of example sentences from the story.  This page should give you the gist of it.  Here’s a rudimentary glossary of words that might confuse you (note: the letters “wh” in Maori make something close to an “f” sound, so the word for octopus, wheke, is pronounced roughly like “feké”):

Hawaiiki – the legendary homeland of the Maori people, before they came to Aotearoa/New Zealand; possibly to be identified with Ra’iatea in the Society Islands
Kupe – legendary Polynesian wayfinder who discovered Aotearoa/New Zealand in ancient times (assuming he was a real person, he probably lived around AD 1100)
Rangatira – “chieftain” or nobleman, head of a family and an important figure within a tribe
Tangaroa – God of the sea and father of all sea creatures, one of the major atua (gods, but literally the word means “ancestors”) of the Maori pantheon
Hinemoana – Tangaroa’s daughter, and an important sea goddess; her name literally means “the sea maiden”
Waka – any of several classes of long single-hulled canoe used for travel, fishing and warfare
Hui – any gathering or assembly
Whanau – (extended) family; several whanau make up a hapu (clan); several hapu make up an iwi (tribe)
Karakia – a chant or prayer meant to invoke the aid of benevolent spirits
Mere – an edged club held in one hand, often carved from greenstone
Te Ika a Maui – the North Island of New Zealand; the name literally means “the fish/whale of Maui,” in reference to the story that the island was once a giant sea creature that was fished up out of the sea by the demigod Maui

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