Exploring Asteroids In Maori Mythology

  1. Introduction
  2. Asteroids as Messengers of the Gods
    1. The Story of Tama-Nui-Te-Rā
    2. The Role of Asteroids in Navigation
  3. Asteroids as Guardians of the Earth
    1. The Story of Papatūānuku
    2. The Significance of Asteroid Naming
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Conclusion
  6. Additional Resources


Asteroids have been a part of human mythology for centuries, representing both hope and destruction. In Maori mythology, asteroids were believed to be guardians and messengers, carrying important messages from the gods. The Maori people of New Zealand used the stars to navigate the oceans, and they had intricate knowledge of celestial objects. This article will dive into the world of Maori mythology surrounding asteroids, exploring their beliefs and cultural significance.

Asteroids as Messengers of the Gods

Intense Maori warrior Hurupepe glares into void on gigantic asteroid amidst smaller ones adorned with Maori mythology carvings

The Story of Tama-Nui-Te-Rā

In Maori mythology, the sun god Tama-Nui-Te-Rā was revered as one of the most powerful deities. According to the legend, Tama-Nui-Te-Rā had a daughter named Hine-Raumati who lived on Earth with humans. One day, she went to bathe in a river when Tane, the god of forests and birds, saw her and became infatuated. His advances towards her were rejected, and in his anger, he sent a volcanic eruption that destroyed many villages. Tama-Nui-Te-Rā was infuriated with Tane and sent one of his children, an asteroid, to punish him. The asteroid hit Tane's forest, causing widespread devastation. This story highlights the belief that asteroids were used by the gods as messengers or weapons to communicate with each other and punish those who disobeyed them.

The Role of Asteroids in Navigation

The Maori people relied on the stars to navigate the vast Pacific Ocean that surrounded them. They believed that the stars were their ancestors and that their movements could guide them on their journeys. Asteroids, or "hinau-ceres," were also used as navigational aids for seafarers. They would use the position of an asteroid in the night sky to determine their location and direction while at sea.

Asteroids as Guardians of the Earth

A celestial wonder, the massive asteroid stands tall with intricate Maori carvings etched on its surface

The Story of Papatūānuku

In Maori mythology, the goddess Papatūānuku was revered as the Earth Mother. She was responsible for creating the land, forests, and animals of New Zealand. The Maori people believed that asteroids were her guardians, protecting the planet from harm. According to legend, Papatūānuku's children, the first humans, were protected by a group of asteroids called the "Whetu-o-te-Rangi" or "Stars of the Sky." These asteroids were believed to be watching over the people, ensuring their safety and well-being.

The Significance of Asteroid Naming

In modern times, asteroids are often named after historical figures, influential people, and important scientific discoveries. However, in Maori culture, asteroid naming is significant for different reasons. The Maori name for an asteroid is often chosen based on its characteristics, such as its color, size, or position in the night sky. These names reflect the cultural beliefs and values of the Maori people and are used to honor their ancestors and traditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chase through the cosmos: a fiery asteroid in pursuit of a shimmering, glowing creature from Maori mythology
  • Did the Maori people believe that asteroids were dangerous?

    While asteroids were sometimes used by the gods as weapons, the Maori people did not believe that they were inherently dangerous. Instead, they viewed them as messengers and protectors of the Earth.

  • Were asteroids used for navigation in other cultures?

    Yes, many ancient cultures used the position of celestial objects to navigate, including the Polynesian peoples of the Pacific.

  • What is the significance of asteroid naming?

    Asteroid naming reflects the cultural beliefs and values of a people. In Maori culture, names are chosen based on the characteristics of the asteroid and are used to honor their ancestors and traditions.

  • Did the Maori people have any rituals or ceremonies related to asteroids?

    There is little information about specific rituals or ceremonies related to asteroids in Maori culture. However, the stars and celestial objects played an important role in their spiritual practices and were often incorporated into rituals.

  • How has the Maori belief in asteroids influenced modern society?

    The Maori beliefs about asteroids have been incorporated into modern astronomy, with some asteroids being named after Maori figures and traditions. Additionally, the Maori worldview emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things, which has influenced modern environmentalism and sustainability efforts.


The Maori people have a rich cultural history surrounding asteroids, viewing them as both messengers and guardians of the Earth. Their beliefs highlight the importance of celestial objects in navigation, spirituality, and storytelling. By exploring these myths and legends, we can gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of asteroids and their impact on human history.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about Maori mythology and asteroids. We encourage you to share your thoughts and continue exploring the fascinating world of celestial objects.

Additional Resources

A warrior stands proudly, adorned in tribal paint and clutching bone carving tools

For more information on Maori mythology and asteroid naming, you can visit the following resources:

If you want to discover more articles similar to Exploring Asteroids In Maori Mythology, you can visit the Asteroid Mythology category.

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