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Maero

by Peter Kohler
According to the legends of the Maori of New Zealand, the fearsome Maero, or wild people, were inclined to such hijinx as kidnapping folks and then fighting them to the death. Hairy and unkempt, they had especially long, bony fingers. After spearing their prey with their jagged nails they ate it raw, and no doubt with relish.

The Maero lived in the forests, to which they had confined themselves when human beings arrived from Hawaii and mucked all about, desecrating the "tapu," or sacredness, of their homes.

Another name for the Maero is mohoao. A man named Tukoio once came across a particularly hairy mohoao -- hair so long it trailed upon the ground -- who was spearing birds with his fingernails. This mohoao at once attacked Tukoio and fought fiercely with him until Tukoio had cut off his arms and legs. After Tukoio had severed the shaggy head and was returning home with his trophy, the head began to speak: "Children, I'm being carried off!" Tukoio instantly dropped the head and ran. When he came back later, with others, it was gone. The mohoao had reconstituted itself and returned to the forest.


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