Friday, June 5, 2009

Winter sky

One of my favorite constellations at the moment is scorpio. It reminds me of winter. I often track it over the next few months. It is also one of those patterns that once seen, is hard to miss again. This constellation is also known as "The hook of Maui."

For Ngai tahu whanui this constellation was very important. As stated in Rawiri Te Maire Tau's excellent book, "The Oral Traditions of Ngai Tahu", at the end, in appendix 1, 'The Origins of the Waitaha' the translation reads:
"This is the tradition of the Waitaha. The place that the canoes and the people came from was from a land called Patunuioaia, and this land is beyond the horizon where the sky hangs low upon the ocean. The canoe, Hurihurimanu, was the first and afterthat was the 'Canoe of Raki' and this canoe lay under the ancestor known as 'Te Moretu'.
At this stage Uruao lay in the district called Taite Whenua.
'Matahua' was the incantation used upon the 'Canoe of Raki' and the crew were the deities that inhabited the forests and the trees from which the canoe was carved. Their god was Tukaitauru. There was also a great adze on board that cleared a passage across the ocean and its name was 'Ka Pakitua'. That canoe beached at Aupouri in the Northland and this land was already occupied. This canoe did not return but instead became a constellation in the heavens now known as the 'Constellation of Scorpio' or to Maori as 'Te Waka a Tama Rereti'. Its stars are markers for the seasons and they were placed in the heavens as signs for the season of food, for the season of scarcity of food and for the good and bad years.
Consequently, the ancestral stars such as canopus (Autahi) became the star of the year with Sirius (takurua) pointing to Rigel (Puaka) which was a used as a marker for the fish of the seas. And so it was that this canoe was completed in the heavens."
What other traditions are there that you may know of?

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