A woman who, wishing to cook some food for her family and not having any water with which to moisten the oven, set out towards the fountain or water hole. In her hand she held a basket containing a calabash. The moon, Marama, which had been lighting her path, suddenly went behind a cloud; so Rona kept on stumbling over the roots of trees and over the stones. She became very vexed and angry, and solemnly cursed the moon. The moon immediately left its place in the sky, seized Rona, the calabash, and a ngaio tree (to which the woman vainly clung), and carried all three away to the lunar mansions. At the full of the moon, Rona, the calabash, and the ngaio are all to be seen on the moon's surface.
The following is said to be a karakia repeated by Rona, as she waited for the moon to appear: —
- E Rona E! Tenei au te piki nei, te heke nei
- Ki te hihi o te marama—pio!1
The same story told, but Rona, a man, having a wife named Hine-horo-matai.
The moon is accounted for differently in another legend, which says that two inquisitive women found their way "by the root of the pohutakawa tree" into the land of spirits (see Reinga). They went on till they saw three grey-headed spirits sitting by a fire, and as this was sacred fire, the women greatly desired to possess some of it; so they crept up close, one of them made a dash at a firebrand, caught it up, and they rushed away. The spirits flew in pursuit, and caught the thief by the heel just as she was entering the world of day, but the woman, unwilling to lose the sacred fire, whirled the brand up into the sky, where it remains as the moon.
Rona is lord of the sun and moon. Rona eats the moon, and the moon eats Rona; but, as each becomes exhausted and devoured in the monthly battle, they go to Wai-ora-tane (the living water of Tane) to bathe, and are there restored to life and strength, by which they become able to renew their struggle. But Tū-raki (garb of heaven) divides with Rona the control of the moon.
A man who was married to a woman named Uru-pahika-hika (repaired in patches). During her husband's absence the woman invoked the god Hoka (screen), who consented and came down from the skies as a lover, but with such fierceness that he levelled all the fences and houses in Rona's settlement with the wind of his advent. Rona, on his return, asked for an explanation, and was satisfied with his wife's explanation as to a hurricane.
However, the same thing happened each time he went out fishing, and since he felt no wind at sea, he because suspicious. Unknown to his wife, he hid himself in his house. As soon as Hoka arrived, Rona caught him, and cut off some of his flesh, and let him depart. He cooked the flesh and, under the name of some other food, gave it to his wife, who ate it. Rona now asked his wife to go for some water, as he was thirsty. She went, and two of her children followed her. They had gone far, even over many mountain ranges; but the water dried up as they proceeded. Rona now called and said to his wife, "Go. Yes, go far away. Go, you who have eaten that which gave you delight." She did not then return, but was lost in the distance.
After some time Rona determined to go to the sun, but he could not get near it. He then attempted to join himself to the moon. In this he succeeded, and began at once to eat the moon, and this he continued to do until the moon was all consumed.
1. This appears to be a later gloss; composed after Rona's translation to the moon, and confounded perhaps with the original karakia.
- Best, Eldson. (1899). "Notes on Maori Mythology." Journal of the Polynesian Society 8:93-121, p. 101.
- Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 423.
- White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, pp. 2:20 ff.
This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.