Tanemahuta was looking very sad because his children were dying one by one. Aue!
Tanemahuta’s children, the towering Totara and the kingly Kauri were being eaten by ravenous, crawling bugs. Tanemahuta called out to all his children of the air and asked them for a volunteer to live on the forest floor.
First he asked the Tui but he thought the ground was too cold and hard. Too cold and hard!
Next he asked the Pukeko, who replied with a shiver in his voice that he did not want to get his feet wet on the damp ground. I don’t want to get my feet wet!
The Pipiwharauroa also declined because he was building a nest for his children. I’m too busy building a nest!
Finally Tanemahuta asked the Kiwi who answered bravely in a strong, clear voice “I will!” Tanemahuta was overjoyed but realised that he must warn the kiwi of what it means to live on the ground. I will!
He explained that he would lose his colourful wings because he would not be able to fly anymore and that his legs would have to grow thick and strong so that he could pull apart the wood on the hard cold ground.
Tanemahuta punished the birds that would not help him by giving the Tui two white feathers at his throat as a mark of cowardice. He banished Pukeko to live in a swamp forever. Next he told Pipiwharauroa that he would never build his own nest again but would have to use other bird’s nests for his eggs.
Finally the gallant and brave kiwi was rewarded with the knowledge, that he would always be remembered as the most well known and famous bird of them all.