Maori Creation Myth


The Maori creation myth tells how heaven and earth were once joined as Ranginui, the Sky Father, and Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, lay together in a tight embrace. They had many children who lived in the darkness between them. The children wished to live in the light and so separated their unwilling parents. Ranginui and Papatuanuku continue to grieve for each other to this day. Rangi's tears fall as rain towards Papatuanuku to show how much he loves her. When mist rises from the forests, these are Papa's sighs as the warmth of her body yearns for him and continues to nurture mankind.

In Maori mythology the primal couple Rangi and Papa (or Ranginui and Papatuanuku) appear in a creation myth explaining the origin of the world.




Union and Separation

Rangi and Papa are the primordial parents, the sky father and the earth mother, who lie locked together in a tight embrace. They have many children, all of which are male, who are forced to live in the cramped darkness between them.

These children grow and discuss amongst themselves what it would be like to live in the light. Tumatauenga, the fiercest of the children, proposes that the best solution to their predicament is to kill their parents (Grey 1956:2).

But his brother Tane disagrees, suggesting that it is better to push them apart, to let Rangi be as a stranger to them in the sky above, while Papa will remain below to nurture them. The others put their plans into action: Rongo, the god of cultivated food tries to push his parents apart, then Tangaroa the god of the sea and his sibling Haumia-tiketike, the god of wild food, join him. In spite of their joint efforts, Rangi and Papa remain close together in their loving embrace.

After many attempts, Tane, god of forests and birds, forces his parents apart. Instead of standing upright and pushing with his hands as his brothers have done, he lies on his back and pushes with his strong legs. Stretching every sinew, Tane pushes and pushes until with cries of grief and surprise, Ranginui and Papatuanuku are prised apart.




War in Heaven and Earth

And so the children of Rangi and Papa see light and have space to move for the first time. While the other children have agreed to the separation, Tawhirimatea the god of storms and winds is angered that the parents have been torn apart. He cannot not bear to hear the cries of his parents, nor see the tears of the Rangi as they are parted, so he promises his siblings that from henceforth, they will have to deal with his anger.

He flies off to join Rangi, and there carefully fosters his own many offspring, who include the winds, one of whom is sent to each quarter of the compass. To fight his brothers, Tawhirimatea gathers an army of his children, winds and clouds of different kinds including fierce squalls, whirlwinds, gloomy thick clouds, fiery clouds, hurricane clouds and thunderstorm clouds, and rain, mists and fog. As these winds show their might the dust flies, and the great forest trees of Tane are smashed under the attack and fall to the ground, food for decay and for insects.

Then Tawhirimatea attacks the oceans, and huge waves rise, whirlpools form, and Tangaroa, the god of the sea, flees in panic. Punga, a son of Tangaroa, has two children, Ikatere, father of fish and Tu-te-wehiwehi (or Tu-te-wanawana), the ancestor of reptiles. Terrified by Tawhirimatea's onslaught, the fish seek shelter in the sea, and the reptiles in the forests. Ever since, Tangaroa has been angry with Tane for giving refuge to his runaway children.

So it is that Tane supplies the descendants of Tumatauenga with canoes, fishhooks, and nets to catch the descendants of Tangaroa. Tangaroa retaliates by swamping canoes and sweeping away houses, land and trees that are washed out to sea in floods.

Tawhirimatea next attacks his brothers Rongo and Haumia-tiketike, the gods of cultivated and uncultivated foods. Rongo and Haumia are in great fear of Tawhirimatea, but as he attacks them, Papa determines to keep these for her other children, and hides them so well that Tawhirimatea cannot find them. So Tawhirimatea turns on his brother Tumatauenga.

He uses all his strength, but Tu stands fast, and Tawhiri cannot prevail against him. Tu (or humankind) stands fast, and at last the anger of the gods subsided and peace prevailed. Tu thought about the actions of Tane in separating their parents, and made snares to catch the birds, the children of Tane, who could no longer fly free.

He then makes nets from forest plants and casts them in the sea, so that the children of Tangaroa soon lie in heaps on the shore.

He made hoes to dig the ground, capturing his brothers Rongo and Haumia-tiketike where they have hidden from Tawhirimatea in the bosom of the earth mother, and recognising them by their long hair which remains above the surface of the earth, he drags them forth and heaps them into baskets to be eaten.

So Tu-the-man eats all of his brothers to repay them for their cowardice; the only brother that Tu does not subdue is Tawhirimatea, whose storms and hurricanes attack humankind to this day.

Tane searched for heavenly bodies as lights so that his father would be appropriately dressed. He obtained the stars and threw them up, along with the moon and the sun. At last Rangi looked handsome.

Rangi and Papa continue to grieve for each other to this day. Ranginui's tears fall towards Papatuanuku to show how much he loves her. Sometimes Papatuanuku heaves and strains and almost breaks herself apart to reach her beloved partner again but it is to no avail.

When mist rises from the forests, these are Papatuanuku's sighs as the warmth of her body yearns for Ranginui and continues to nurture mankind

Wikipedia




People of Rekohu (Chatham Islands)

The Maoris, the indigenous people of New Zealand, tell the following story, or creation myth, to explain how the world was created: Heaven and Earth were once joined as Ranginui, the Sky Father, and Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, lay together in a tight embrace.

They had many children who lived in the darkness between them. These children grew and discussed amongst themselves what it would be like to live in the light.

Tu-matauenga, the fiercest of the children said: 'Let us kill our parents and then we can live always in light.'

But Tane Mahuta his brother disagreed: 'No, there is no need to kill them, we can just push them apart, then our Father the Sky can be above us to watch over us and our Mother can be below to nurture us.'

All the other children agreed to this except Tawhiri-matea, the Son who was in charge of Storm and Wind; he was sad at the idea that the parents would be torn apart.

The others put their plans into action: Rongo-ma-tane, the god of cultivated crops and food tried to push his parents apart, then Tangaroa the god of the sea and his sibling Haumia-tikitiki, the god of food which grows without being cultivated, joined him.

In spite of their joint efforts, Rangi and Papa remained close together in a loving embrace.

Finally, Tane Mahuta, the god of forests and insects tried, but instead of standing upright and pushing with his hands as his brothers had done, he lay on his back and pushed with strong feet.

Stretching every sinew, Tane pushed and pushed until with cries of grief and surprise, Ranginui and Papatuanuku were prised apart.

Tawhiri-matea could not bear to hear the cries of his parents, nor see the tears of the Sky Father at the parting, so he created great storms and winds and promised his siblings that from henceforth, they would have to contend with his wrath. He joined his father in the sky from where he periodically punishes the earth and sea with his violent storms.

Rangi and Papa continue to grieve for each other to this day. Ranginui's tears fall towards Papatuanuku to show how much he loves her. Sometimes Papatuanuku heaves and strains and almost breaks herself apart to reach her beloved partner again but it is to no avail.When mist rises from the forests, these are Papatuanuku's sighs as the warmth of her body yearns for Ranginui and continues to nurture mankind.





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