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How The Kiwi Lost Its Wings

How The Kiwi Lost Its Wings

How the Kiwi lost its wings is a legend from Oceania.

One day Tanemahuta, the forest god, saw that his children, the trees, were getting sick, as bugs were eating them.

He asked his brother Tanehokahoka, the sky god, to call all the birds together.

Tanemahuta spoke to the gathering of birds.

‘Insects are devouring my children, the trees. I need one of you to come down and live on the forest floor to save my children and your home. Who will come down?’

Not one bird spoke.

Tanehokahoka turned to Tui.

‘Tui, will you come down from the forest roof?’

Tui looked down at the deep shade beneath the trees and shuddered. ‘It is too dark.’

Tanehokahoka turned to Pukeko.

‘Pukeko, will you come down from the forest roof?’

Pukeko looked down at the wet earth on the forest floor and shuddered. ‘It is too damp.’

Tanehokahoka turned to Pipiwharauroa.

‘Pipiwharauroa, will you come down from the forest roof?’

Pipiwharauroa looked around and saw his family.

‘I am too busy building my nest.’

Everyone kept quiet. Tanehokahoka felt very sad at this lack of response. At last he turned to Kiwi.

‘Kiwi, will you come down from the forest roof?’

Kiwi looked up at the sunlit trees, looked around and saw his family. Then he looked at the damp earth. He slowly turned to face Tanehokahoka and said, ‘I will.’

Tanehokahoka and Tanemahuta were filled with joy, for this little bird was giving them hope. But Tanemahuta felt that he should warn Kiwi of what would happen.

‘Kiwi, do you know that you will grow thick legs to live on the ground? That you will lose your colored feathers? That you will never again fly and see the light of day?’

‘I know,’ said Kiwi.

Then Tanehokahoka turned to the other birds and said, ‘Tui, because you were too scared to come down you will always wear two white feathers at your throat as the mark of a coward.’

‘Pukeko, you did not want to get your feet wet. Your punishment is that you will live forever in the swamp.’

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

‘But you, Kiwi, You have made a great sacrifice. You will become the most famous and the most loved bird of them all.

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