“In the beginning before the world was light, Rangi the sky-father and Papa the earth-mother were bound together, their offspring caught in the darkness between them. Their strongest son, Tane Mahuta, put his shoulder to Papa and thrust upwards with his powerful legs, creating life and light.”
− Maori legend
And Tane Mahuta became the Maori God of the forests. Tane Mahuta married Tawake-toro, and together they had the Mānuka tree! This is how deep Mānuka’s roots are in New Zealand’s history and culture.
The Māori often say that Mānuka has “whakapapa”. Literally translated, whakapapa means “genealogy”. But, it is actually a deeply spiritual concept that is a fundamental principle in Māori culture. Your personal whakapapa places you in the context of your ancestors and the lands where they lived, and centers your identity in the context of your personal history.
So Mānuka has whakapapa, and this is why New Zealanders take everything that is Mānuka so seriously.
Tāne Mahuta doesn’t just exist in mythology, but is also a gigantic kauri tree alive today. Tāne Mahuta stands at an impressive 170 feet tall, and it’s trunk is 45 feet wide, and it may be over 2,000 years old. You can hug this kauri tree at the Waipoua Forest of Northland, New Zealand, and feel a surge of inner peace and deep respect for its ancient history.