Tane mahuta

A guest post from the as-yet blogless Lucy Kempton for the forthcoming Festival of the Trees.

Meeting Tane mahuta was one of those jaw-dropping, lump-in-the throat moments.

In Maori cosmology, Tane Mahuta is the god of the forest, the son of the sky father and earth mother, who tore his parents apart, breaking their primal embrace, bringing light, air and space, so allowing life to flourish.


This avatar of Tane is a 2000 year old kauri tree in Northland, New Zealand. It is impossible to convey the scale of these trees in a photo; their feeding roots are near the surface and delicate, and you cannot approach them too closely, which seems only appropriately respectful. The movement of the dappled forest light on the texture of the bark seems to be emanating from the tree rather than simply reflected, and a whole unattainable world exists in the branches.


Some days later, walking on a headland overlooking the Pacific, I met Tane Mahuta again in microcosm, this time in this lichen covered old fence post!

2 Replies to “Tane mahuta”

  1. My husband is Maori and we took our 3 children to see NZ. We went to see Tane and I was so amazed and overwhelmed by this magnificent tree that I named my last child (a boy) Tane. And he definately was meant for that name he was born 10 pound. He is 5 now and still a big solid boy. A very fitting name.

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