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Legends of New Zealand

The Story of Aoraki


Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, is called Aoraki by the Maori.

According to legend, which explains how the mountain's name came about, Aoraki and his three brothers were the sons of Rakinui, the Sky Father.

They were on a voyage around Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, when their canoe was stranded after striking a reef in the ocean.

Aoraki and his brothers climbed on the top side of their canoe. The cold south wind hit them, froze them, and turned them into stone.

The legend says their canoe became New Zealand's South Island which was then called Te Waka o Aoraki.

Aoraki, the tallest of the brothers, gave his name to the highest peak.

His brothers and members of his crew became the mountains of the Southern Alps.

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