He Atua He Tangata The World of Maori Mythology
'The purpose of this book is to put into simple, connected narrative from, and in a logical sequence of categories, the major legends and beliefs, with their more important variants, and thus to provide a volume of straightforward reading and easy reference.'
These words from A.W. Reed's preface to the first edition of this book, his classic Treasury of Maori Folklore (1963), are the key to this work's continuing appeal. Compiled mostly from sources in English, it has nonetheless stood the test of time, remaining an essential reference to the stories, traditions and myths of Maori culture.
He Atua, He Tangata starts with traditions of the creation of the universe, and the separation of Rangi and Papa, then reviews the pantheon of atua (gods), the overworlds and underworlds. Next come the story cycles of the demigods Maui and Tawhaki; tales of supernatural peoples including patupaiarehe, ogres and witches; and taniwha and giant birds. Later chapters group legends of earth, ocean and sky, tohunga and makutu, and giants and flying men, concluding with legends of love and endurance.
Where Reed favoured synthesising different versions into one composite story, this new revision seeks to present a range of accounts and to identify sources where possible. In general, it modernises the language to give stories a contemporary feel, incorporating more te Reo Maori and following current guidelines from the Maori Language Commission.
Through this revision, this timeless work is now equipped for twenty-first century readers.