Understanding the Many Meanings of the Fantail
The pīwakawaka is sometimes considered an omen of death, but in Māori tradition, that’s just one part of its story, Roxanne Hoorn writes for travel site, Atlas Obscura.
The bird is a much more complex figure. In one version of the Māori origin story, for example, it’s the fantail that foils the plans of the trickster demigod Māui to subvert the natural order of things, Hoorn writes.
In mātauranga, manu connect the human and spirit realms. “Different birds were seen as being able, in different ways, to almost pierce the veil between the living world of humankind and those more obscure worlds,” Auckland University of Technology Professor of Māori Philosophy of Education Georgina Stewart says. The fantail in particular has long been thought of as a messenger.
The fantail may soon be a symbol of communicating between different ways of understanding our world.
Original article by Roxanne Hoorn, Atlas Obscura, October 20, 2023.