The magic of myths

The magic of myths online resource provides teachers, kaiako and career educators with tools and tips about using kōrero pūrākau or Māori myths and legends to connect with students about their future pathways. This resource can also help you share the magic of kōrero pūrākau with whānau, and help parents connect with their children about their future directions.

Myths and legends are created and used by cultures all over the world to entertain, engage, and educate audiences. Oral traditions have always been an important part of Māori culture and identity, with stories handed down from generation to generation. Kōrero pūrākau help us to explain the past, develop understanding, remember experiences and pass on learning.

Three myths with activities

Three Māori myths have been retold by Wiremu Grace in both English and te reo Māori, and illustrated by Andrew Burdan. Activities are provided in English for each myth.

Teacher's guide

This gives some background about myths and legends, and ideas about how you can use these in the classroom.

Here are some examples of how myths and legends connect with the New Zealand curriculum and NCEA.

Where to find more myths and legends

Web resources


  • Bishop, G, 'Taming the Sun: Four Māori Myths', Random House, 2004.
    Contains four stories, including Māui and the Sun, Māui and the Big Fish, Rona and the Moon, and Kahu the Taniwha.
  • Orbell, M, 'The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Māori Myth and Legend', Canterbury University Press, 1995.
    A detailed guide to Māori myths and legends, religious beliefs, folklore and history, with more than 380 entries. 
  • Sullivan, R, 'Weaving Earth and Sky: Myths and Legends of Aotearoa', Random House, 2002.
    An anthology of the story of creation, Māui tales, Tawhaki and Rata and Kupe's voyage to Aotearoa.
  • Winitana, C, 'Legends of Aotearoa', HarperCollins, 2001.
    Fourteen Māori stories rooted in iwi oral tradition, and telling stories of the natural landforms of regions of Aotearoa.

Other resources

  • Check out your local library for local stories and kōrero pūrākau.
  • Utilise your whānau and community networks to find local storytellers who can contribute to your kōrero pūrākau workshops.

Updated 17 Jan 2023