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Original oil painting on canvas




"The saddleback  takes its English name from the band of colour running across the adult bird’s back. According to Maori tradition the saddle marking was caused by the man–god Maui, Maui–potiki. This happened shortly after he and his brothers had snared the sun as it emerged from its cave. Maui beat the sun so mercilessly as it lay imprisoned close to the ground that it was greatly enfeebled. When the sun could take no more and pleaded for mercy, Maui released it, its energy all gone, so that it was able only slowly and wearily to make its way across the sky. Thus to this day we have longer daylight hours.


The heat of the sun and his exertions made Maui very thirsty so he asked Tieke, the saddleback to bring him some cold water but the bird pretended not to hear and took no notice. This irritated Maui so much that he seized it and in doing so singed its feathers with the heat of his hand. The markings on his back are a permanent reminded of how it incurred his displeasure. Maui then threw the bird away from him into the water that he had been unable to reach."


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