How the Kiwi lost his wings

Written by www.maori.org.nz

As told by Glenn Webber & Nadia Kimberley-Ward

Kiwi Bird

One day, Tanemahuta, was walking through the forest. He looked up at his children, the trees, reaching for the sky and he noticed that they were starting to sicken, as bugs were eating them.

He talked to his brother, Tanehokahoka, who called all of his children, the birds of the air, together.

Tanemahuta spoke to them.

"Something is eating my children. I need one of you to come down from the forest roof and live on the floor, so that my children can be saved, and your home can be saved. Who will come?"

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.

Tanehokahoka turned to Tui.

"E Tui, will you come down from the forest roof?"

Tui looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Tui looked down at the forest floor and saw the cold, dark earth and shuddered.

"Kao, Tanehokahoka, for it is too dark and I'm afraid of the dark."

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.

Tanehokahoka turned to Pukeko.

"Pukeko, will you come down from the forest roof?"

Pukeko looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Pukeko looked down at the forest floor and saw the cold, damp earth and shuddered.

"Kao, Tanehokahoka, for it is too damp and I do not want to get my feet wet."

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.

Tanehokahoka turned to Pipiwharauroa.

"Pipiwharauroa, will you come down from the forest roof?"

Pipiwharauroa looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Pipiwharauroa looked around and saw his family.

"Kao, Tanehokahoka, for I am busy at the moment building my nest."

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke. And great was the sadness in the heart of Tanehokahoka, for he knew, that if one of his children did not come down from the forest roof, not only would his brother loose his children, but the birds would have no home.

Tanehokahoka turned to Kiwi.

"E kiwi, will you come down from the forest roof?"

Kiwi looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Kiwi looked around and saw his family. Kiwi looked at the cold damp earth. Looking around once more, he turned to Tanehokahoka and said,

"I will."

Great was the joy in the hearts of Tanehokahoka and Tanemahuta, for this little bird was giving them hope. But Tanemahuta felt that he should warn kiwi of what would happen.

"E kiwi, do you realise that if you do this, you will have to grow thick, strong legs so that you can rip apart the logs on the ground and you will lose your beautiful coloured feathers and wings so that you will never be able to return to the forest roof.  You will never see the light of day again."

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.

"E kiwi, will you come down from the forest roof?"

Kiwi took one last look at the sun filtering through the trees and said a silent goodbye. Kiwi took one last look at the other birds, their wings and their coloured feathers and said a silent goodbye. Looking around once more, he turned to Tanehokahoka and said,

"I will."

Then Tanehokahoka turned to the other birds and said,

"E Tui, because you were too scared to come down from the forest roof, from now on you will wear the two white feathers at your throat as the mark of a coward.

Pukeko, because you did not want to get your feet wet, you will live forever in the swamp.

Pipiwharauroa, because you were too busy building your nest, from now on you will never build another nest again, but lay your eggs in other birds nests.

But you kiwi, because of your great sacrifice, you will become the most well known and most loved bird of them all."

And that is the story of how the kiwi lost his wings.