Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 32, 1899
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Origin of Theft.

Far away in the land of Mataora dwelt Pani-tinaku, wife of Rongo-maui. Pani was a sister of Tangaroa-i-te-rupetu, who was father of the Maui brothers. The fame of the kumara (sweet potato) came from afar, and Rongo-maui went forth and visited the regions of the sky, where Whanui* dwells, for Whanui it is who gives the kumara to mankind. And as Rongo-maui ascended to the sky he repeated the following invocation:–

E Para E!
Tukua atu au kia puta
Ki tawhangawhanga nui
No Rangi, no Papa
He aio.

When Rongo reached Whanui he said, “I have come for some of our children (the kumara), that I may take them back to Mataora with me.” But Whanui said, “I will not consent

[Footnote] * Whanui = the star Vega.

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to their being taken.” Then Rongo retired, and in doing so managed to secure some of the kumara by stealth, which same he brought back to Mataora with him. Such was the origin of theft.

The foregoing is an interesting legend when studied in its entirety. According to the old-time Maori it was Whanui (Vega) which gave unto them the kumara (sweet potato). When Whanui first appeared in the east the wise men pronounced the kumara-crop as ready to be taken up. It is possible that the Polynesians first obtained the kumara from South America, in which direction Whanui rises.