Hinauri finds her second husband (the backstory to an Arthurian legend)

An audio-tape of this story with its analysis


This legend is from New Zealand where I grew up. Because the land consists of two elongated islands there is a huge coastline and people are close to the sea, which is shown in this legend. Polynesian culture is still alive there: many schoolchildren are taught the Maori language.

wooden heads.jungian psychoanalysis

Ancestral figures. Supporting central pillar of traditional house on shore of Lake Taupo.

Otago Museum: Michael de Hamel. Illustrated encyclopedia of Maori myth and legend: Margaret Orbell.

Though Polynesian legends come from a stone-age culture which developed independent of western culture, they employ a symbolic language which is universal. They make astute psychological observations – we have to look carefully at laconic details because they are full of meaning.

Hinauri’s legend was compiled from several independent transcripts made in New Zealand between 1840 and 1880.


When her first husband was killed, Hinauri cast herself into the sea. She drifted to another island, had barnacles scraped from her body, married a handsome chief and killed his other wives, thus releasing from their bodies greenstone, which the Maoris used for sacred ornamental carvings.

How am I to interpret this legend?

I could interpret it as being about a woman’s evolving relationship with men in the outside world. It is that, but the legend has strange and inexplicable features – like the barnacles and the release of the greenstone carvings.

Therefore I also interpret it as being about a woman’s inner development. Then I find that the strange features suddenly fall into place, the interpretation becomes internally consistent and has, for me, the ring of truth.

I check my interpretation by staying close to the details of each image and by tracking repetitions, that is, disparate images which illuminate aspects of the same psychological point. The story-teller held an important theme in his or her unconscious mind; that theme suggested a series of images which were woven together to create the story.

But you must decide for yourself whether my interpretation also rings true for you.

Throughout we will understand images as metaphors or as symbols. Jung argued that symbolic understanding is the key to the realization of individual potential, a process which he called individuation. Jung said that a legend functions as a road map, that it’s purpose is to guide an individual in his or her development. This was as true for stone-age Polynesians as it is for western people of the 21st Century.

Throughout this story we will find places where we might get stuck, unable to grow further. When we are stuck we show a symptom, or symptoms (back pain, arthritis, stomach and intestinal pain, etc) of psycho-pathology: a particular symptom is symbol representing, in part, the particular place where we are stuck. If we understand the meaning of the symptom then it may guide growth which, in turn, relieves the symptom.

A heroine’s journey

In western culture we are familiar with stories of a hero’s journey: a hero travels into the underworld, fights with dark forces of unconscious, and returns bringing riches. Examples include GilgameshThe OdysseyBeowulf and The Divine Comedy. Hinauri’s rich story is important because it shows an equivalent journey for a heroine. Thus it offers insights into a woman’s development, showing ways in which that development may differ from a man’s.

You will see that Polynesian culture is more positive towards the feminine than is Western culture.

Yin and yang

Hinauri’s story has many images of the interplay of yin and of yang.

Yang is the phallic principle: it is the penis that penetrates and fertilizes. But it is also the sword, hard and sharp. It discriminates things, makes distinctions, separates us from each other. It is cutting and deathly. It is the sun and all penetrating light. It is the intellect that reflects. It is air, spirit, ideas, consciousness itself.

Yin is the feminine principle, the vagina, the earth, a cave, a jungle. It is darkness, passivity, the unconscious. It is the mother that envelopes and nurtures indiscriminately. It is impersonal fertility, changeable like the moon, It dissolves distinctions. Yin is the body; like Aphrodite it entangles us with each other in emotion, that is, in life.

ancient sculpting of yoni and lingam. jungian therapy

Yoni and Lingam, symbols of Shiva. Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia.

Photo: Christian Juni, blog.tirawa.com, 2011.

Women and men comprise both yin and yang but women tend to identify more with yin and to experience yang more as the mysterious other; for men it is the opposite.

A woman encounters her own potential for yang as the animus, a series of luminous or charged male figures. These are men who are compelling because they seem handsome or sexy, or fascinating, or wise, or because they are artists, or rich, or powerful, or leaders.

The man himself, the real person, may be interesting but to a great extent the woman is fascinated by the animus which she projects onto the man.

What follows is the complete legend with interpretations.

Hinauri finds her second husband

The dog

Hinauri’s first husband was Irawaru; Hinauri’s brother was the trickster hero, Maui. Irawaru angered Maui by catching more fish than Maui when they went out together in an outrigger canoe.

outrigger canoe.jungian psychoanalysis

Outrigger canoe. Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea.

Photo: http://ian.macky.net/secretmuseum

And so they paddled back to the beach. As they got there a wave threw them slightly to one side and on to some rocks, and they needed to get the outrigger over these in order to get in. Maui, always accustomed to giving orders, said to his brother-in-law: ‘Jump out and put your back under the float and lift it, will you?’ And Irawaru did so.

As soon as Irawaru was stooping under the weight of the outrigger and was at a disadvantage among the rocks, Maui ran out on the cross-beams and jumped up and down on the outrigger – Irawaru crumpled under it, and Maui practically killed him. If he did not crush him to death he nearly drowned him. When Irawaru was nearly done for, Maui slipped down and trampled on his body, and lengthened his backbone, and by his enchantments drew it out like a tail. And he transformed Irawaru into a dog, and made him eat some nasty filth. Then he began to feel satisfied. This dog was the first of all dogs.

speach dog.jungian psychoanalysis

War speach (detail). New Zealand Maori warriors with Maori dog; Augustus Earle 1838.

Lithograph: http://www.aucklandartgallery.com

After this, Maui dragged the canoe to the beach and put everything straight, and went home.

When he reached the village there was his sister Hinauri, waiting for her husband. She ran up and asked Maui where he was. ‘I left him down at the canoe,’ said Maui, calmly. ‘If you don’t see him,’ Maui said, ‘try calling “Moi moi! Moi, moi” – like that.’ And he made the sound by which our people call their dogs.

So Hinauri ran down to the canoe and, not seeing Irawaru anywhere about, she called his name. Then, remembering what Maui had said, she called out ‘Moi, moi! Moi, moi!’ Irawaru, who had been snuffling about in the bushes above the beach, recognised her voice then and came running and barking, ‘Ao, ao! ao, ao!’ And he frisked and jumped about her, and wagged his tail, and followed her all the way back to the village.

[A Tahitian variant of this story shows that Hina was always independent and full of life. It explains Maui’s anger differently:

Hina tired of Tuna, her undersea eel-husband, left him, and became Maui’s wife. Maui later killed Tuna but then Hina took Ri as a lover. On one occasion, when she called Ri and he did not answer her, Maui told her to call out “Ri! Ri! Come and place thyself behind me”. Then Ri came to her in the form of a dog.]

In both versions Maui turned Hinauri’s man into dog. Notice the images of transformation in a negative direction. Something was being progressively deformed and degraded.

As Hinauri’s brother, Maui represents the masculine of her own childhood, which means he suggests her childish, that is, her unconscious way of expressing the masculine.

To the extent that the animus is unconscious it expresses itself compulsively in the form of power and control. Such an animus distorts the way a woman relates to her husband; she may be stuck in infantile power drive and seek to dominate her husband, to turn him into a lap-dog. Then there is no relationship, no dialogue, no inspiration, only impersonal companionship. The erotic serves to gain power over the other, rather than to relate to the other.

A southern woman said it to me this way: “My mother always told me you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Casting herself into the sea

Poor Hinauri, when she realised that her husband had been turned into a dog by Maui, was overcome with grief. It was all she could do to walk to the village. She wept the whole way, and the dog ran around her and waited for her along the track with its tail waggng. She went straight into her house without speaking to anyone, and took an enchanted belt that was hers and put it on, and walked back to the sea by the very path which only a little while before she had run down so gladly. All she wanted was to die, as soon as possible. When she got to the beach she sat down on the rocks for a while and wept, and her tears became part of the waves. And after repeating an incantation that was used by people whose grief made them long for death, she threw herself off the rocks, and the tide swept Hinauri out to sea.

ocean with waves. jungian therapy

Ocean waves. Southern Ocean, Antarctica.

Photo: Maria Stenzel. ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/photos/oceans/Southern Ocean

Hinauri grieves her loss and sets out on a journey.

The key is that she notices that there is a problem, that her husband is a dog. Then she longs for a more human relationship. This might happen if something goes badly wrong in a woman’s marriage, for example if her husband has an affair. Seeing that something is wrong is the beginning of consciousness. (So hardship may lead to consciousness; without challenges we remain ignorant and undeveloped)

At the inner level, a woman becomes dissatisfied with her current psychology. So she takes action: she renounces her current desires and purposes and opens herself to chance; she adopts a naive attitude, an attitude of openness to what the unconscious may bring. She begins a spiritual journey like the medieval Irish monks who set themselves adrift in coracles, resolved to build a church wherever they came ashore.

What are example of such a journey in our time? After college you may spend several years trying to discover what to do next. Or, later in life, you may try a radical career change, or you may begin a romantic relationship, not knowing where it will lead, accepting the possibility that it may dramatically upset your current life.

The possibility of drowning symbolizes letting go of the old ego position. This feels like suicide and sometimes a person commits suicide at this point because he or she mistakes the meaning of the image. Such letting go leads to a depression which has a creative purpose. Another name for this stage is the night sea journey.

This is a place where we can get stuck in depression.

The dark moon

For Polynesians Hina personified the moon. In our story her name is Hina-uri, or dark Hina. The above image of Hinauri (sad and drifting in the ocean) thus represents the moon’s hina-po-uri or dark phase, when it is absent for three nights.

Enchanted girdle

But Hinauri did not drown. Because of the enchanted girdle she was wearing she floated about for many months…

samoan woman's multicolored girdle of fiber. jungian therapy

Woman’s girdle. Hibiscus bast, dyed red and blue. Samoa, Polynesia.

National Museum of Scotland.

Hinauri had an enchanted belt and an incantation that was used by people whose grief made them long for death. Thus she had cultural support for her journey: her ancestors understood it and had made provision for it. Remember that knowledge is yang, so she was already beginning to integrate yang in a new way. Thus in our culture we read books, go to workshops, and study legends.


… [floated] until her body was all encrusted with barnacles and seaweed …

grey whale face with barnacles. jungian therapy

Grey whale’s face encrusted with barnacles.

Photo: http://marinesymbiosis.wikispaces.com/2.+Commensalism

Encrusted with barnacles and seaweed means a return to vegetative state, to spontaneous life forces which are primitive, totally outside the ego. It symbolizes that psychological development is organic, not contrived or planned. Jung said: “I don’t make the grass grow,” meaning that the psyche grows by itself. Our work is not to initiate or steer growth but to nurture it.

Drifting unconsciously is another state in which our development can get stuck; we can get older and bigger, burdened by formless expansion, without evolving any further.

Two brothers

… and in this condition she was washed ashore at a place where she was found by two brothers, whose names were Ihu atamai and Ihu wareware, meaning Handsome-nose and Stupid-nose.

They found her lying on the beach and thought she must be dead, but they lifted her up and carried her to their house. They removed the seaweed and barnacles, and when she had been scraped and rinsed they looked on her with pleasure, and for a time she lived as a wife between them both. They inquired her name, but she did not tell them. She made them call her Ihu ngarupaea, or Stranded-nose.

sleeping seal on beach. jungian therapy

Seal sleeping. Beach on King George Island, Antarctica.

Photo: Copyright David Adler, www.davidadlerphotography.com

Like a beached whale Hinauri was cast out of the unconscious. But her body lay on the sand, of the earth, entirely passive, that is, all yin.

She needed to be enlivened by the brothers; her body had to be scraped with knives (yang) before they could see her beauty. So a woman’s development is blocked unless she has a relationship to yang.

Handsome-nose and Stupid-nose rescued her but she would not give them her real name which means that her connection to them was not personal. This is confirmed by repetition: she took them both simultaneously as lovers which means again that her connection to them was not personal.

Hinauri was relating at the level of the nose which, by virtue of its size, shape, verticality and midline location, suggests the penis. Smell both discriminates and evokes instinct, for example in the effect of pheromones on sexual attraction; likewise the penis both discriminates and evokes instinct. To relate at this level represents the first beginning of a conscious connection to yang.

Our story says that the penis-nose was both handsome and stupid, both attractive and lacking in depth. Thus Hinauri was engaged in sex that was mainly physical, an adolescent stage of sexuality.

Our development can get stuck at this adolescent stage.

She called herself “Stranded-nose” which can be translated as “penis lying inert on the sand (earth).” This is further confirmation that her own yang was evolving from its initial stage as an earth-bound (mother-bound) form. Before there is any psychological differentiation, yang is contained within the mother, that is within the original unconscious state. In another polynesian legend, Rona Long-teeth (analyzed on this website), yang begins as the cannibal mother’s teeth; that image shows that in its unconscious form yang tends to be destructive.

Tinirau’s pools

Now these brothers were members of the tribe of Tinirau, a very great chief of those times, who was celebrated for his handsome looks, and for his vanity. Tinirau, who lived on an island named Motutapu, or Sacred Isle, had a number of pools filled with clear water which he used as looking-glasses when he wished to admire himself.

Tinirau owned (claimed, took responsibility for) pools where he reflected upon himself, became aware of himself. Reflection begins consciousness.

This is another stage at which our development could get stuck, admiring our reflection in a mirror.

Tinirau’s dolphins

He also had a school of small whales, or possibly dolphins, who would answer to his call and perform their lively antics just off shore for his amusement.

Two dolphins leaping out of waves. Jungian therapy

Dolphins. Orange Beach, Alabama.

Photo: Cal Britton.

Dolphins are creatures of the unconscious, like fish, but they are also mammals which come up to breath and to jump playfully into the air. In their play they bring something from the unconscious into consciousness.

This is what a doll or a teddy-bear does: it exists in the conscious world where we can see it and touch it but it brings with it something undefined and mysterious from the imaginal underworld. That’s why play is fun.

A symbol does this too, brings towards consciousness a mystery from the underworld, which means that Tinirau’s dolphins represent his potential for symbolic thinking.

This is a repetition of the story’s main theme, the development of consciousness, but with yet another variation: we have seen competition, loss, grief, sacrifice, cultural knowledge, discrimination, impersonal sexuality and reflection; now comes symbolic thought.

Hinauri and Tinirau’s beauty

The fame of this chief awoke in Hinauri a strong desire to see him; and word of Hinauri’s beauty soon reached Tinirau. Hinauri soon grew tired of living with the two brothers, and having heard so much of Tinirau’s noble qualities she made up her mind that she would like him for a husband.

Note that Hinauri and Tinirau were each aware of the other’s beauty. Beauty is symbolic of love, harmony and unity. Thus their beauty suggests another way in which that they were functioning at the symbolic level. Again, repetition with a variation; the story is structured like a musical composition. Love, harmony and unity also represent goals in psychological maturation. Consciousness tends towards individuation.

Hinauri becomes a fish

One day, therefore, when she was out with the women of the village gathering mussels at low tide, she assumed the form of a fish and disappeared. She swam underwater to Motutapu.

fish swims.jungian psychoanalysis

Fish swimming. Akumal, Mexico

Photo: www.i-akumal.com

On the shore of that island she resumed her former shape and sat down to dry her hair.

Hinauri shape-shifted and swam to Tinirau’s island. Swimming contrasts with her drifting in her earlier sea voyage (we look for contrasts because they represent psychological polarities). Now her voyage was ego directed, more consciously yang. Her shape-shifting also indicates consciousness: when we are conscious we can shape our lives, rather than being stuck with what we are given.

Polynesians traveled across the Pacific in ocean-going canoes, sometimes finding islands by chance, sometimes navigating to known destinations, so they were sensitive to the difference.

While she was combing it [her hair] she gave some thought to the best way of meeting Tinirau.

drying hair.jungian psychoanalysis

Tahitian Women Bathing (detail) . Gauguin, 1892

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Knowing of his great vanity, and of the four pools he used for mirrors, she decided to wait for him at the pools, and to attract attention to herself by splashing about when he came to use them.

Her thoughtful plan is another repetition which again confirms that she is developing more yang.

The stranded shark

On her way along the beach she came to a stranded shark, of the kind whose teeth were prized as ear pendants. ‘O fish!’ she said, ‘you are not the messenger of Tinirau,’ and she squatted over it, and went on her way feeling better.

Then she saw a stranded whale and said, ‘O whale, ‘you are not the messenger of Tinirau,’ and squatted over it too, and again went on her way feeling better.

But when she found a repo, or stingray, on the sand, she took off her skirt, which was all she had on, and laid it on the point of the repo. She felt ready then for the meeting with Tinirau …

The stranded shark serves as a dildo, a repetition which confirms our translation of her name, “Stranded nose”.

To prepare herself for Tinirau, Hinauri masturbates with several kinds of fish. Because this is a recurrent image in Polynesian myth it must be important for consciousness. A fish symbolizes a lively force within the unconscious, phallic in shape, therefore the animus. Masturbation symbolizes relationship not with another person but with the animus, which means that individuation is at issue.

The story implies that Hinauri has to relate to the animus before she can relate to Tinirau. The more a woman is conscious of her own animus and its demands, the more adequately she can relate to a man: aspects of the animus, positive or negative, which she has not made conscious she will project onto her male partner.

The Polynesian legend Hina and the Eel serves to amplify.

Hina took an eel as her lover. Later she cut of its head with a sacred adze. She buried its head beside her house and the head grew into a palm tree. Much of the technology and the resources of her island culture were based upon that palm tree.

Technology is an expression of the head, knowledge, spirit, and therefore of yang. For Hina masturbation with the eel symbolizes the development of a woman’s consciousness of yang.

In Judeo-Christian myth, all knowledge derives from the meeting of Eve and the serpent. Masturbation is not spelled out but it is implied by the image of naked Eve, the serpent and the apple. Eve has to learn about her own sexuality before she can show Adam what to do.

In an Egyptian creation myth Atum, the sun god, contains all the forces of nature and creates all the other gods. An Egyptian text says:

By taking his phallus in his grip and ejaculating through it, Atum gave birth to the twin gods, Shu and Tefnut.

For Hinauri masturbation symbolizes progression, a more conscious relationship to the animus than bonding merely to the handsome, thoughtless penis.

There is another parallel in the the movie Whale-Rider which was inspired by Polynesian legend. The sexual aspect is not explicit but the girl riding the whale represents the girl’s individual relation to the animus, her ability to travel alone, to be the new leader of her tribe. Whale-rider shows that a woman’s individuation journey distinguishes her from the collective and makes her a leader.

Hinauri reflects

She felt ready then for her meeting with Tinirau and made her way inland to the pools.

clear pool.jungian psychoanalysis

Rain forest pool. Belize, Central America.

Photo: Rhet Butler, c mongabay.com

Hinauri went to the reflecting pools, that is, to a place of reflection. Now she sought to relate to the animus on spiritual ground, a development upon her earlier instinctual relating. She asked the question, as Percival had to ask of the holy grail: “What does this mean?” Percival related to the unconscious as yin; Hinauri related to it as yang.

Two owls

Now Tinirau was so particular about these pools that he had had some wicker fences built around them, and kept a pair of owls whose duty it was to perch in a high tree near his house and let him know if anyone went near them. Their names were Ruru mahara, or Thoughtful-owl, and Ruru wareware, or Stupid-owl.

When Hinauri broke into one of the pools, Thoughtful-owl flew down to Tinirau arid said: ‘The pools, the reflecting waters of Tinirau, have been destroyed.’ ‘No such thing,’ said Stupid-owl, who had flown there too. Not true!’

2 owls hinauri.jungian psychoanalysis

Hinauri and the owls

Illustration: Maori Myths and Tribal Legends, Anthony Alpers. Longman Paul, 1964.

So Tinirau ordered them to fly over to the pools and make sure. They returned, and Thoughtful-owl told Tinirau that the enclosures had been knocked down, and there was a man in the water. ‘It’s all lies,’ said Stupid-owl. ‘Those words are fiction!’

Owls continue Hinauri’s progression from barnacles, seaweed, fish and dolphins towards consciousness. As for a human, an owl’s eyes face forward for binocular, three-dimensional vision. It flies like a thought and sees/understands things in the round. This interpretation is confirmed by the owls’ names, Stupid and Thoughtful, and again when they argue about what they have seen: they debate like rabbinical scholars.

Tinirau’s impatience

‘You two stay here,’ said Tinirau impatiently, and got up. ‘I’ll go and see for myself.’ And he went to the pools, in a very bad mood.

Everything has meaning in this subtle story. Tinirau, a man of action, was irritated by the owls’ intellectual wrangling. Consciousness is not achieved by thought alone but involves the whole person.

Tinirau and the Lady

Hinauri saw him coming, and greeted him in a charming fashion. He returned her greeting, and was so surprised that he sat down beside her, in a good mood now.

Happy because he had met a beautiful woman; at the the symbolic level, happy because the psyche is renewed when yang meets yin.

A parallel myth: Hina and Tane

The sun-god in Polynesia was Tane. Wai-ora a Tane means the “the living water of Tane,” or “the life-giving waters of Tane.” Throughout the pacific Polynesians believed in magic waters that restored the dead to life. In a Maori myth:

… when Hina-keha (pale Hina) becomes Hina-uri (dark Hina), that is, when the moon wanes and comes close to death, she goes across the ocean to find, in a far place, the Waiora a Tane. She bathes her wasted form in the Waiora a Tane, and so returns to this world as Hina-keha, once more young and beautiful.

Waiora also means “welfare.” Since Tane is the sun-god, the Waiora of Tane is sunlight, the welfare of all things. Thus the dying moon bathes not in water but in sunlight. That interpretation is accurate both at the level of astronomy and at the level of psychology. The sun is burning, potentially annihilating, solar consciousness. The feminine reflects upon this and transforms it into grounded, human-scale consciousness.

The meeting of Hinauri and Tinirau at the pool is clearly an elaboration upon the more elemental myth of Hina and Tane. By amplifying our story with the elemental myth we gain further confirmation (supporting the repetitions noted above) that our story is about the development of consciousness through the encounter of yin and yang, moon and sun.

These confirmations are necessary because, without them, our analysis could be dismissed as nothing more than the projection of a preconceived theory, just one of limitless possible ways to interpret the story.

Another parallel: The Lady of the Lake

From Tinirau’s perspective, Hinauri emerged from the water carrying new consciousness like the Lady of the Lake.

arthur sword lake.jungian psychoanalysis

Arthur receives Excalibur.

Illustration: Daniel Maclise, In Alfred Tennyson: Poems London: Moon, 1857

The Arthurian legend arose in a more patriarchal culture in which the feminine remains an incomprehensible mystery (the Lady appeared to King Arthur with a sword – yang/consciousness – which had been forged complete in the unknowable underworld). But in Hinauri’s legend, from a culture more comfortable with the feminine, the backstory is described in detail: how the feminine forged the sword.

The link I am making here between these two legends from radically different cultures is a new discovery. It helps us to understand better how consciousness evolves, first through the agency of the feminine, then through the agency of the masculine.

About fishing

‘When you go out fishing, do you always catch something?’ said Hinauri shyly, to make conversation.

‘No, I catch nothing,’ Tinirau answered untruthfully, while admiring her lovely hair and her soft brown eyes.

‘When you pull up your line do you always find your hook and sinker still there?’ asked Hinauri, who was watching the mud squeeze up between her toes.

toes water.jungian psychoanalysis

Woman’s toes in water

Photo: www.corbisimages.com.

‘No,’ said Tinirau, who had snapped off a piece of grass and was pulling it, ‘I always find my hook and sinker gone.’

And he fell in love with Hinauri there and then, and they walked away to a place where they lay down under Tinirau’s cloak.

Tinauri claims that he is always defeated when he probes the feminine (the water) with his stone hook and sinker.

A fish is an aspect of the Self. To catch fish is to obtain resources from the unconscious by skillful action, that is, to think symbolically, for example by interpreting dreams and legends.

Tinirau said he had lost his fishing tools in the belly of the unconscious, which means he was defeated and emasculated by his envious wives, that is, by the negative power of yin. This suggests that there was no love, no psychological relating with his wives. The animus remained trapped within the unconscious, unable in that state to support symbolic thinking.


Hinauri mimics love-making with her toes in the mud. Tinirau relieves the tension by snapping a piece of grass and pulling on it. In their conversation Hinauri and Tinirau show the interplay between yin and yang. They play together with symbolic thought, enjoying the meeting of their minds. Play is key because, much more than work, play allows the development of the psychological world.

The regressive, destructive power of maternal yin has been diminished. Their relationship evolves to the level of a couple who flirt with words, and Tinirau falls in love.

The story shows that they do not merely fuse with each other unconsciously as Hinauri had with the two brothers. Rather they enjoy a true meeting as separate individuals who are aware of each other.

Evidence for this comes from the earlier images – for example of Hinauri’s reflection in the pools – and from their playful, flirtatious conversation in which they maintain the tension between instinct and awareness.


In the alchemical image of the coniunctio a king and a queen meet naked in a pool and make love. A king and a queen retain separate authority even when they are lovers. Like Hinauri and Tinirau they are separate individuals.

naked king and queen embrace in fountain.jungian analysis

Alchemical coniunctio.

Rosarium philosophorum, published around 1550.

Online source: http://www.tumblr.com/search/The%20Rosary%20of%20the%20Philosophers

Jung argued that a true meeting of opposites is the source of psychological renewal. Renewal is symbolized in our story by Hinauri’s pregnancies (below) and the birth of her two sons. From Hinauri’s perspective the opposites are feminine consciousness and the animus.

This amplification from alchemy is further evidence that we are correct in our interpretation Hinauri’s story.

The jealous wives

Now Tinirau already had two wives. Their Maori names were long hut their meanings were The Enraged One and The Jealous One. When these wives heard that Tinirau had met a young woman by the pools and had not since come home, they summoned Thoughtful-owl and Stupid-owl and sent them to find out what was happening. The owls flew off, and came back after a while.

‘Well,’ said the wives, ‘what did you see?’

‘We saw two heads and four feet,’ said Thoughtful-owl.

‘All fiction,’ said Stupid-owl. ‘Not true!’

Tinirau and Hinauri remained together. Meanwhile, Tinirau’s other two wives became jealous of Hinauri.

When a woman prospers psychologically she is attacked for it. Individuation is the thing of highest value and it provokes envy, as Christ’s birth provoked Herod to kill all the new-born children.

These attacks may come from within, for example when a woman finds sexual joy with her lover and then feels guilty because of her envy (internalized from her parents) of her own joy.

Our development can get stuck in envy.

In due course Hinauri went to the village and gave birth to a child, who was the son of Ihu atamai. After that they called her names, and accused her of stealing their husband, and when the baby was a few days old they came to see Hinauri.

‘You will need to mind how you behave to your sisters-in-law,’ said Tinirau before they arrived, but Hinauri answered: ‘If they come in anger it will be evil.

Hina fights

The two wives came, and Hinauri stood up, holding in her hand the piece of obsidian with which her baby’s navel-cord had been cut. One of the wives had a weapon with her. But Hinauri had time to utter a powerful incantation, which called on the god named Whiro, one of the lesser sons of Rangi and Papa, and a killer of men. These were the words:

Loud sounds the stone,
sharp pain is the stone,
to strike at the seat of life is the stone,
to strike the brain is the stone.
Behold, the stone rings out,
behold, the stone will destroy,
the stone of Whiro te tupua,
spirit even of thee, the man-destroyer.

warrior mere.jungian psychoanalysis

Wiremu Kingi. Aged Maori warrior.
Gottfried Lindauer: oil on canvas, late 19th C.

Photo: http://www.aucklandartgallery.com

As she uttered this spell Hinauri threw the piece of obsidian at the two wives, who fell on their backs and died…

Hinauri defends herself with her incantation, which means that she makes conscious use of her culture’s craft and wisdom, yang.

She fights with obsidian – the hard, sharp stone – which she had used to cut the umbilical cord. In a decisive act of will she strikes with the discriminating knife, stands against regressive yin by cutting the cord.


[the jealous wives died] and their bodies burst open where the stone had struck them, and were seen to be filled with greenstone.

Then Hinauri called out to her husband: ‘Look, here are your sinkers that you thought you’d lost!’

In this way greenstone was formed, the hard green jade of which the Maori made their most precious ornaments, such as ear pendants, and the tiki that is hung from the neck, and adzes, and even the war club known as mere, when pieces large enough could be obtained.

Maori greenstone patu, traditional weapon and symbol of chieftainship. jungian therapy

Mere Pounamu.

Copyright National Army Museum, Waiouru collection, New Zealand.

Greenstone had been trapped in envy and rage. It is a rare stone, richly colored, hard and shiny. For Maoris it was the stone of highest value. The stone of highest value was the goal of the alchemists’ work, which work represented, Jung said, the individuation journey.

Greenstone was yang, both because it made the most illustrious war axes and because, as an artistic product, it represented creativity itself. Symbolic images were immortalized in greenstone carvings, which means that greenstone represented symbolic life [1].

We can see the psychological precision of the story: the climax of Hinauri’s legend is the release of polished greenstone and polished greenstone is the climax of Maori symbolic expression.

Hinauri and Rupe

But our story does not end here:

In time Hinauri became pregnant again and Tinirau treated her harshly. After she had given birth to Tinirau’s son, Hinauri called upon her brother to rescue her. Maui came to her as Rupe, the pigeon, and they flew together back to her homeland. Out of pity for Tinirau, she let her baby fall down to him.

Rupe and Hinauri fly away, dropping her baby for Tinirau. jungian therapy

Rupe and Hinauri ascend, dropping her baby for Tinirau

Illustration: Maori Myths and Tribal Legends, Anthony Alpers. Longman Paul, 1964.

Hinauri is her own person: expressing yang she refuses Tinirau’s unkind treatment and abandons her role as mother of his child.

In summary: Hinauri’s legend shows that a woman may find her own creative power through a journey in which she consciously meets her own inner masculine.


[1] Under the names of Hina-te-iwaiwa and Hine-te-iwaiwa, the moon was the patroness of women. Hina presided over childbirth and the art of weaving. The first tiki was made for Hine-te-iwaiwa by her father. The tiki was a grotesque image of a stillborn fetus, usually made from intensely hard nephrite (green-stone), which Maori women wore around their necks as a symbol of fertility.