Gallery of Art

Piopiotahi Haven 1812

Piopiotahi Haven 1812 - Rhonye McIlroy - Windsor Gallery Christchurch


660W x 550H

The Maori name for Milford Sound is Piopiotahi given after a now extinct Piopio bird that used to live there. According to the myth, the legendary Maori hero, Maui brought the bird with him from the distinguished homeland of Hawaiki. It was said that Piopio could mimic the calls of other birds and was ‘unquestionably the best of our native songsters’. Maui made the fatal mistake of challenging ‘Hine-nui-te-po’, the Goddess of Death, to a duel. He challenging her for the prize of eternal life for mankind if he won. When she crushed him to death between her thighs, his Piopio bird who had witnessed the tragedy is said to have flown to Milford Sound mourning the death of his mate, giving the famous Sound its name, Piopiotahi (“the single thrush”). The South Island Piopio was last recorded in 1905.