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The great hero Māui (who fished up Aotearoa, slowed the sun and brought fire to the world) decides to conquer death, Hine-nui-te-Pō, the Great Lady of the Night. Māui 's father warns him not to try to kill Hine-nui-te-Pō for he would surely die, since he, the father, had omitted saying an important prayer when Māui was born. Māui ignores his father and asks the birds if they will accompany him. The fantail, tiwakawaka, dances a haka and Māui joins in. He changes himself into a sparrowhawk and they all fly off. They arrive at Rarohenga, the home of Hine-nui-te-Pō. She is asleep. Māui warns the birds to be very quiet and not to laugh. He changes himself into a caterpillar to enter the godess. But the fantail can contain his laughter no longer and then all the birds laugh too. Hine-nui-te-Pō awakes and crushes Māui between her legs. All the people are very sad and sing a Waiata Tangi. Māui (as a spirit) decides to change the mood of this lamenta- tion: they should celebrate his life, not mourn his death. He is dead but nevertheless immortal for he lives on for ever in the hearts of the people.
This is the fourth movement of my Māui Cycle, a concerto for clarinet (which symbolises Māui ) and orchestra. The other movemts are: Te Ika a Māui (The Fish of Māui ), I mau a Tama te Rā i a Māui (Māui Slows the Sun), Na Māui te Ahi a te Ao (Māui Brings Fire to the World).