Tangaroa and the Paua
The myths and legends of New Zealand’s earliest inhabitants, the Maori tell us that once, in the days of old, Paua had no shell.
Tangaroa, god of the sea, saw the difficulties that this created for Paua and decided to create something special for him. He said:
“I will take from my domain the coolest blues of the ocean. And ask of my brother Tane the freshest greens of the forest. From the dawn you shall have a tinge of violet. From the sunset a blush of pink. And overall there will be a shimmer of mother of pearl”.
With this, Tangaroa fashioned for Paua a wonderful coat that sparkled and dazzled with its beauty. But it was fragile and soon broken by those sea creatures who were envious of Paua’s new appearance. Tangaroa saw this, so he strengthened the shell with many layers of the coolest blues of the ocean, the freshest greens of the forest, the violet of the dawn and the pink of the sunset. Finally he added a camouflage coat to enable Paua to blend in with the drab greys and browns of the rocks. Tangaroa then charged Paua with the life-long task of adding layer upon delicate layer, each a different hue and blend.
So it was that Paua got his shell. He hugs the secret of his inner beauty to himself and only at the end of his life, when his empty shell washes ashore, is his artistry revealed.
Adapted from Tangaroa's Gift - Mere Whaanga-Schollum.
Reproduced by kind permission of Ashton Scholastic Ltd.