After reading Gavin Bishop's 'Kahu and the Taniwha' we retold this Maori myth using our own words. We focussed on describing the setting, characters and problem in the narrative.
Kahu and the Taniwha by Eli
Between Rotorua and Waikato stood a maunga. On this foggy maunga were two paths. One was a short and skinny path and the other was long and wide. When people took the short path they saw smoke rising in front of thousands of broken bones and dead trees. The short path led to a cold damp ana with no people to be seen.
In this terrible ana their lived a terrifying taniwha crunching on bones and skulls. The taniwha had wings like an enormous bat and dragon eyes. His scales deflected spears and arrows. His eyes gave people nightmares when the darkness entered their souls. His fiery breath burned the trees as he searched out his prey. His claws caught and grabbed at flesh. He cared for no one but himself.
Kahu was a young Waikato chief. He was fed up with having to take the long path to see his girlfriend, Koka in Rotorua. One day Kahu said to Koka’s father “If I convince the taniwha to go to the other side of the maunga could I marry your daughter?” In a deep voice Koka’s father replied, “Yes, let me help you. That taniwha likes scratches on his back”. The strong, smart Kahu to the taniwha’s ana and started scratching his back. “Oohh, Aargh” said the taniwha. Kahu said “If I find you a wife to scratch your back whenever you want will you move to the other side of the maunga?” The taniwha growled calmly and said “I will”.
Kahu returned to his village to find Pukaka. Pukaka was a lazy scruffy woman who had not combed her hair for over twenty years. Pukaka’a hair was messy and tangled with fleas. Kahu said “I have found you a husband, he lives on the short path to Rotorua. Pukaka replied “but there’s only a taniwha that lives there”. “That’s him” said Kahu. Pukaka thought fro a while and said “well living with that beast must be better than living in this pig sty”. So Pukaka went to the taniwha’s ana, sneaked up and started scratching his back. The taniwha said “oohh, that’s nice” when he looked he saw a revolting, dirty woman scratching his back. The taniwha said in disgust “Yuck”. Pukaka replied “but I will scratch your back whenever you want”. The taniwha then lifted up Pukaka and went to the long path to make up his part of the deal with Kahu.
A dew weeks later Kahu married Koka in Rotorua. Kahu and Koka’s whanau celebrated with them. They all had a feast of kumara, fish and chicken. They were so happy until out of the sky the taniwha’s claws snatched Koka out of jealousy. Kahu had ferocious anger in his eyes. He gathered a group of young men to kill the taniwha. They set up a trap in the trees to finally kill the beast. Kahu went to the taniwha’s ana and mocked him. His fierce eyes stared at the taniwha and he pulled a pukana. The scaly giant chased Kahu down the maunga. As they got near the trap Kahu shouted “now”. The men pulled as hard as they could and ropes tore the taniwha’s neck.
Kahu carried Koka to her village and the people of Rotorua and the Waikato rejoiced.
Kahu and the Taniwha by Torres
Between Rotorua and Waikato stood a maunga. On this maunga there was two paths, one short and one long. On the long foggy path there was broken trees and terrified screams hung in the air. The cold misty air blew everywhere. The crows flapped furiously. They sent warning calls. On the short path there was a never ending cave. Inside that cave there was scattered and crushed bones. Outside burnt, dead grass. On the cold freezing floor lay piles of chewed clothes left with huge globs of saliva. In that terrifying ana there was a horrifying monster. It’s terribly long falcon like head could tear open a whole house. His enormous bat like wings spread from one side of the cave to the other. It’s crocodile body and tail was nearly too long for it’s habitat. His gigantic ram horns so strong, they could butt down three trees at once. His large fiery eyes were so hot with rage that they could make your body sweat with fright.
In a nearby village there lived a young Waikato chief named Kahu. Kahu was a handsome, strong and brave man. He was a very wise and fast chief. He was sick of going on the long path to visit his girlfriend Koka. One day when he was visiting Koka. He asked her father “If I persuade the taniwha to move to the other side of the mountain, will you let me marry your daughter?’’ “Very well, yes” said Koka’s father surprised that a young man could be so brave ”but let me tell you something, the taniwha likes to have it’s back scratched” So with hearing this, Kahu slowly crept towards the taniwha’s ana. Kahu slowly started to scratch his scaly back. “OOhhhhhh, a bit lower please - mmmmmm” he growled. “I can find you a wife to scratch your back everyday” said Kahu “but you must promise to move to the long path on the other side of the maunga”. “Yes, yes” replied the taniwha.
Kahu returned to his village in the Waikato to find Pukaka. She lived in a disgusting hovel with fleas hopping and mosquitoes buzzing around. Her hideous hair was covered with flies and lice crawling all over. Kahu was nearly sick just looking at her, she was the most revolting woman in his village. “I’ve found you a husband” said Kahu. “He lives on the short path to Rotorua. “But only a taniwha lives there” said Pukaka. “Mmmmmm” thought Pukaka “I suppose living with a taniwha must be better than living in this dump”. So Kahu led Pukaka to the taniwha’s cave. “Now go in and start scratching it’s back” Kahu whispered. “OOOOHhhh, Arghhhh”. The taniwha turned around to see who was scratching his back. “Oh Yuck, you are disgusting I can’t even bear to look at you” shouted the taniwha. “But I will scratch your back, whenever you want me to” said Pukaka. “Well OK” said the taniwha. So to keep his side of the bargain he flew to the long path to make a new home.
A few weeks later Kahu married Koka in Rotorua. Kahu, Koka and whanau had a fine feast of hangi and roast pork. After the wedding they headed back to Waikato. The taniwha heard the noise and flew up to see what it was. The taniwha spotted the beautiful Koka. He was jealous. He thought about the ugly Pukaka, Koka was so much more beautiful than her. So with an enormous roar the taniwha swooped down and grabbed Koka in his claws soaring back to his old ana.
Kahu was furious and heartbroken. He sent out a mob of muscular young men that had hearts brave enough to rescue Koka from the man-eating beast. When they reached the ana Kahu ran up to the taniwha. “I’ve come to get Koka” he shouted in fury. “Mwa hahahaha, don’t make me cry with laughter” said the taniwha. Kahu shot out his tongue in a pukana. Then at the speed of light he raced down the maunga. The taniwha ran after him with his terrible jaws gaping wide. Then Kahu reached the bottom of the maunga and ran into the bush. “Now” shouted Kahu and the men pulled the trap around the taniwha’s neck and chopped the beast’s head off. As soon as the monster was dead Kahu carried Koka out of the ana. The whanau was overjoyed.