so the "simple" job i was supposed to do for ms. rhownyn has lost the plot (that's kiwi slang for gone wrong). i not only haven't managed to get rid of these maori flax artifacts, but now i'm being hunted by a maori deity calling itself whiro who seems to have its heart set on getting the baskets for itself... ms. rhownyn warned me this would be a bad thing. so i've tried my best to lose it not once, not twice, but thrice so far on my new zealand wide trip (i haven't even made it north of dunedin yet though!).
(Production Note: Picture from Traditional Maori Legends by Warren Pohatu)
first thing i couldn't help but confirm was that i was definately dealing with something maori!!! one look at the art in the book, and there was no doubt...
having had a close encounter with a living, moving, and well not sure if it was breathing though(?) version of one of these the artist sure nailed what these deities look like...
at first the book didn't have much on whiro or the kete o te wananga... till i suddenly found the entry on the ketes. suddenly the connection between the two came sharply into focus...
In the beginning times Tane the god of the forest looked upon the newly created world, and its population of humans and saw it fit to seek the te Wananga or ultimate knowledge to gift upon humanity. In order to do this Tane would have to ascend the outer plains of reality to gather these knowledges.
He was not alone in seeking the te Wananga however. many darker powers and deities sought them as well. Among these one of Tane's many brothers, the god of evil and darkness, (you guessed it)... Whiro.
Tane embarked on a perilious journey through many of the outer realms in his quest to acquire the ultimate knowledge, and had many side adventures. Finally he discovered the highest of the dimensions where the te Wananga were native. He found there to be three distinct types of knowledge, and possessing no other means to transport their essences back to the corporial realm Tane placed them in three flax baskets or kete (oh man... starting to sound familiar?).
By placing the pure essence of these Wananga in the baskets they were transformed into the ultimate vessels of these forms of knowledge... The kete aronui was of matters that were beneficial to humanity and the whole of creation. The kete tuauri was knowledge of benign magics and the occult. Finally the kete tuateu was knowledge of harmful "black magic" or makutu.
It was when Tane had finally found and secured the kete te wananga that Whiro struck. As Tane made his return to our reality Whiro ambushed him. An army of Whiro's servants; bats, lizards, mosquitos, and sand flies attacked Tane and attempted to overwhelm him and steal the baskets. The battle was furious, and Tane nearly fell before the massive force, had it not been for the knowledge he'd gained from the baskets.
As a finale to this victory Tane used magic from the baskets to send a final mighty attack against his brother. Whiro was hurtled not just into the Earth but right through and into its depths to the underworld or rarohenga. Whiro's minions were hit by shockwave of this blast, and were scattered about the world of man. Despite being banished from the corporial world Whiro was not entirely cut off from it. He still sends his blight of diease, famine, and suffering from his new prison in the underworld.
okay whiro accused me of being a champion of tane's... that is beginning to make sense now. the three baskets are making sense too. finally ms. rhonwyn warning of "The FATE of New Zealand's spiritual and mystic fabric rests in your hands" is really starting to make sense now!
i also now know whiro's servants here in the real world. i even read back at the southland museum how the tuatara was the messenger of whiro, but i didn't make the connection of what that actually meant till right now. that explains how whiro was able to figure out i went south from dunedin... "he" found out from the tuataras i saw in invercargill. the sand flies statues at milford i wonder if they somehow talk to him... have i mentioned lately how much i HATE magic?!?!?
when i pulled up into queenstown on the shores of lake wakatipu it was a nice little breather from all the heavy mythic issues of the past couple days...
the lake and the surrounding mountains were really pretty. the whole area reminded me of the okanagan valley. though nice i wouldn't quite call these mountains actual mountains. their more like BIG hills compared to say the rockies of canada.
the most remarkable thing was the shade of blue the lake was. it doesn't show up in these photographs due to the lack of sun... but trust me it was amazing!
there were an awful lot of boats in the lake around town. maybe i'd like this place i thought. i do like boats a lot...
it was very touristy trappy. it was so bad at trying to get outsiders money it took me 30 minutes just to find a non million dollar parking spot! everything and everywhere in town cost, and the prices were high... even for new zealand!
as queenstown wasn't on ms. rhonwyn's list of specified stops i decided this would be a momentary pit stop to take a break, and more importantly swap cars.
remarkably Ridger's suggestion of pretending nothing was wrong with the car worked! (i actually had rented, or sorry "hired" in kiwinese, a SUV but whiro tried to possess it, and so i stole his car... look i know it sounds crazy, but just click the link and you'll see!). so now i have a nice spiffy new car which has no magic residue or signture or whatever whiro has been using to follow me...
despite my relative not liking of queesntown on my way back to my new car i did find two coolish things. showing that had i been allowed to wander the place FREEly there was probably much to see.
first was a statue of william gilbert rees, the first settler to set up a farm in the area (notice the sheep beside him in the statue... ah kiwi's and their sheep LOL). he also was a real stand up guy feeding the first ill supplied gold miners when the gold rush of new zealand began in the area. click on his name to get the full story and a close up of the plague of the statue.
my other find was a WW1 monument. the monument itself is like many throughout the south island, but the slogan on this one reminded me of my current responsiblity and duty
"service above self".
indeed this museum quest was definately now asking me to put a bit on the line now that the maori god of darkness was on my tail... and who knows how many other maori mythic beings?
with that in mind i hit the road again.
as i reached the end of lake wakatipu the sun came out from behind the clouds and reveiled the best part of queenstown. the amazing blueness of the lake... see people of the innerweb i told you it was an amazing blue!!!
it was nice to have had a little breather like this one. not every stop on the trip had of course been so uneventful, and neither were many of those to come...
to be contuined...