Mythical Monday: The Moon Woman of New Zealand by Mae Clair

I’ve been fascinated by the moon and the heavens in general ever since I was in grade school. I can still recall how excited I was when in second grade we learned the names of the planets and I was able to recite them in order. At six years old (I started school early) I was apt to share this little gem of information with anyone who’d listen. I’m sure my parents probably got tired of hearing me recite them, but they never let it show.

When I was seven my dad bought my older brother a telescope, which opened a brand new door of wonder to the heavens (despite my brother trying to convince me he’d seen little green men dancing on the moon). Eventually, a few years later, my father bought me my own telescope seeing my interest in stargazing wasn’t just a passing phase. I remember going out at night with a sketchbook and trying to replicate what the surface of the moon looked like after I magnified it through the lens. That telescope lasted through the years into my late thirties. As an adult I didn’t use it nearly as often, but there were still occasions when I dragged it into the back yard and angled it to capture a glowing moon.

mysterious worldMaybe it’s because I love that silvery orb so much I find it hard to believe anyone would curse it, but that’s exactly what the Moon Woman of New Zealand did. A Maroi girl by the name of Rona, she made a habit of trekking from her village to collect water from a nearby stream each day. One day she forgot to complete her task during the hours when the sun was high, and had to venture out at night.

The chore wasn’t trying at first for the moon shone brightly, lighting her way. But as Rona neared the stream, it slipped behind a cloud plunging her into darkness. In the sudden nighttime shadows, Rona tripped and fell. Perhaps she skinned her hands and knees; perhaps she hurt herself badly or broke her water pitcher in the fall. Whatever the reason, she grew horribly angry and began hurling insults at the moon for concealing its light.

Incensed by such blatant disrespect, the moon swept down to the Earth and attempted to carry her away. Realizing her danger, Rona wrapped her arms around a tree, refusing to let go. But the moon was so angry with the girl it ripped the tree from the Earth, roots and all, and carried it off with Rona still clinging to the trunk.

According to legend, when the moon is full, Rona, the tree, and her water pitcher are visible on the surface of the moon. Look closely and you will see the Moon Woman of New Zealand still lamenting her fate.