The Maori - Volume I
IV Cosmogony and Anthropogeny
IV Cosmogony and Anthropogeny
Cosmogonic myths—Two versions of myths—A conservative priesthood—Creation chaunt—Io a demiurgic Supreme Being—The Sky Parent and Earth Mother—Cosmogonic concepts of Maori point to a distant fatherland—Attitude of Maori toward Supreme Being—The twelve names of Io—The twelve heavens—The twelve series of celestial beings—Io a moral deity—The abode of Io—Io the Parentless stands alone—Io known at Rarotonga and Tahiti—Io and Jehovah—All things are one—The universal soul in nature—Cosmogonic genealogies—Departmental deities—The universe evolved from chaos—The Primal Parents—The Po—Primeval darkness—Light enters the world—Separation of Sky and Earth—The offspring of Rangi and Papa—Tane—Ascent of Tane to the twelfth heaven—Whiro attacks Tane—Tane and Io—Tane obtains the three “baskets” of knowledge—The Wind Children attack Whiro—The Poutiriao or Guardians—Contest between Light and Darkness—The Maiki brethren—The House of Death—The overturning of the Earth Mother—Origin of the heavenly bodies—Sun myths—The Children of Light—The Cloud Children and Wind Children—Anthropogenic myths—The ira atua and ira tangata—The search for the female element—The origin of trees—The creation of woman—Origin of man—Origin of birds—The mysterious Tiki—Birth of the Dawn Maid—The Dawn Maid descends to the underworld—Poetic description of the Dawn Maid—Popular version of origin of man.
The cosmogonic myths of the Maori folk of New Zealand contain elements of much interest to anthropologists, and the same may be said with regard to the origin of man as explained in the mythology of the race. One of the most remarkable features connected with these subjects is the fact that there are two versions of both, and this peculiarity is, at first, somewhat disconcerting to the student. A close study of the matter, however, shows clearly that these differing versions are quite in accord with Maori procedure, and the result of the intense spirit of conservatism displayed by highclass experts in ancient lore, combined with the high degree of tapu pertaining to such teachings.page 86
An explanation of these versions and their origin must be preceded by drawing further attention to the conservative attitude ever adopted by the trained repositories of racial and tribal lore, more particularly that of the Kauwae runga, or esoteric lore. The ordinary people of a community were never made acquainted with such matter. The inner or sacerdotal version of the origin of the universe pertained to the cult of Io. This could not be vulgarised by placing it in the hands of the people. Thus it was that a secondary version was evolved and taught by second-grade adepts to the people. In the superior version we are told that the world was brought into being by Io, the Supreme Being; the popular or exoteric version is that it was evolved from preceding conditions, the process being given in genealogical form. In brief, then, the one origin is demiurgic, the other genealogical or evolutionary.
A remarkably fine Creation chaunt, or hymn, collected by the late Colonel Gudgeon, presents the superior version of our cosmogonic myth. It opens with the statement that Io dwelt within the vast expanse of space, that nothing else existed save darkness and water. There was no day, no heavenly bodies, no light. Io expressed his intention to dwell without habitation, that is, to pervade all space. He then brought light into existence, a great light prevailed. Io looked upon the vast expanse of waters that surrounded him, and he bade the waters be separated, and the sky be formed, and the earth born. Thus the suspended heavens came into existence, and beneath them lay Papa the Earth. So came the primal parents, Rangi the Sky Father and Papa the Earth Mother, into being. From these originated all else around, above and below us.
This chaunt of the great demiurge, the Creator Io, is couched in fine, stately language of archaic form, containing singular cryptic sayings and terse idioms beloved by the Maori. This exalted concept of creation was the fruit of the mind of barbaric man, of neolithic cannibals, of people we deem savages. It bears the aspect of antiquity and of an Oriental origin. No such concept was evolved by the farscattered Polynesian folk while dwelling in innumerable communities on the many isles of the eastern Pacific. This and other conceptions of a superior type must have been the page 87 creation of leisured minds, of a priestly caste of a people dwelling as a cohesive, self-contained nation in some far land. Such, at least, is the belief of the present writer. However barbaric the forefathers of the Maori may have been in remote times, they assuredly included men capable of prolonged introspective and critical thought. However closely the bulk of the people clung to crude beliefs and low-class deities, it is clear that superior minds strove to pierce the darkness of ages and envisage a Supreme Being of nobler attributes. Amid the hampering maze of gross superstitions and shamanistic ritual they took the first steps on the long road that leads to monotheism.
In writing for people who have no compunction about mentioning the name of the Supreme Being, who publish it abroad, and even employ it to add weight to vituperation, it is impossible to convey any idea of the attitude of the Maori towards Io. So intensely sacred was the cult of Io that the bulk of the people were not allowed to become acquainted with it. It is doubtful if they knew the name of that being; they certainly never heard the more important invocations addressed to Io of the Hidden Face. Such formulæ were employed only in regard to what were deemed subjects of importance. Io was never invoked in connection with minor matters, or anything held to be evil, such as magic.
- Io nui—Great Io.
- Io roa These names signify that Io is the eternal, unchanging, permanent deity.
- Io taketake These names signify that Io is the eternal, unchanging, permanent deity.
- Io te wananga—Signifies that Io is the source of all sacred and occult knowledge.
- Io matua—Io the Parent. He is viewed as the parent or origin of all things, albeit he begat no being.
- Io matua te kore—Io the Parentless. Signifies that he was not born of parents.
- Io mata ngaro—Io of the Hidden Face. He cannot be looked upon; no eye may behold him.
- Io mataaho—Signifies that he can only be seen as the radiations of light are seen. No being may look upon him directly.page 88
- Io te waiora—Signifies that Io is the source of all welfare, all life.
- Io tikitiki o rangi—He is the supreme one of the heavens, and above all.
- Io matakana—He is Io the Vigilant. A righteous cause must be theirs who would gain his ear.
- Io te kore te whiwhia—He is Io the Withholder, and so prevents man gaining all his desires.
Te Toi o nga rangi.
Tiritiri o matangi.
Rangi naonao ariki.
Rangi te wawana.
Rangi nui ka tika.
Rangi tauru nui.
Rangi maire kura.
Rangi nui a tamaku.
The last of the list is the sky we see above us, in which the heavenly bodies are situated. The word rangi, in vernacular speech, signifies the sky, and also represents its personified form. Collectively the twelve heavens are termed nga rangi tuhaha, the bespaced or separated heavens. The Whatukura and Mareikura are two companies of denizens of the uppermost heaven. The first mentioned are male beings, the latter female, and all are supernatural beings. The duties of these constitute them the attendants of Io; they act as messengers and supervisors, and have the power to visit all the lower heavens, the earth, the spirit world, and all other realms. They convey to Io reports on the condition of things in all realms. The other eleven heavens also possess such companies of celestial beings, male and female, the names of which companies have been preserved. The denizens of the lower heavens, however, cannot enter the uppermost one. Each company of such denizens numbers twelve beings.page 89
It was explained that Io had no connection with evil, and so could be invoked only with regard to the welfare of the people. Yet we shall see that the knowledge of evil came originally from the Toi o nga rangi. So far as we know the Maori priesthood made no attempt to reconcile these two facts. It must, at the same time, be admitted that our knowledge of native beliefs, etc., is very far from being complete. It seems that evil entered the world when the offspring of Rangi and Papa rebelled against their parents, and Tane and Whiro commenced their eternal feud, which still continues, but of which more anon.
The abode of Io is at Rangiatea, a place situated at that part of the uppermost heaven known as Te Rauroha. This name of Rangiatea is a famed and a revered one in Polynesian estimation. It is not only the abode of Io, but was also famous for other reasons. At that place the highly tapu and mana possessing stones, termed whatu kura were kept, and which were in charge of the attendants of Io. They were deposited on the ahurewa, or altar, of that place. A singular statement once made to me by a learned old native was to the effect that, at the abode of Io, and situated before him where he can plainly see it, is a large stone that possesses the attributes of a magic mirror. This stone in some way reflects all occurrences that take place in all realms. Thus, should one of his messenger attendants report that certain things are occurring, say in the realm of Kiwa, the ocean, then Io has but to look into the stone in order to become acquainted with all particulars. The practical mind marvels why messengers should be employed by a deity possessing such a singularly useful stone, but such discrepancies do not in any way perturb the mind of barbaric man.
There seem to have been no teachings as to the origin of Io. He is Io the Parentless, Io the eternal; he had no parents, he took no female being to wife, he begat no offspring. He created the earth and the heavens, and caused all realms, all things to exist, hence is he known as Io the Parent. He was the cause of the birth of offspring to the primal parents Rangi and Papa, from whom all things are descended, hence was Io the true origin of all life and all entities. We shall see anon that the soul of man, the vivifying spirit, and the breath of life, also emanated from Io.page 90
The cult of Io is a very singular one to be evolved by a barbaric folk, for this beneficent deity represents a truly remarkable concept. There is nothing of terrorism in it. No image of Io could be fashioned, no offerings made to him. Of a verity this cultus is of a much more refined nature than the blood-stained worship of Jehovah as depicted in the Old Testament.
In an account of some old Polynesian traditions related by a Rarotonga native (Cook Group), and published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society, occurs the following passage:—“I may say the god Io was an atua mekameka (beneficent deity), and the ancient priests, my ancestors, always ended the special karakia (ritual) with the chaunt: ‘Io, te atua nui ki te rangi tuatini’ (‘Io, the great god of the vast heavens’).” Again, a native of Tahiti informed me that, in olden times, the most important god was Io-i-te-vahi-naro, or, in the New Zealand dialect, Io-i-te-wahi-ngaro (Io of the hidden place). Compare one of our Maori names for this deity, Io-mata-nagro (Io of the hidden face).
Let us stray a little further afield. Among certain Asiatic folk the name of Jehovah assumed many forms, as Jahweh, or Iahweh, Yahweh, Iahoue. Now Renan, in his History of the People of Israel, writes: “The holy name became contracted into Iahou or Io.” This suggests a startling theory. Has the name of Jehovah been carried westward, and that of Io eastward, from a common centre, to meet here at the bounds of the earth? This is but one of many striking Asiatic-Polynesian parallels that provide much pabulum for thinking minds. This, however, is not the time or place to discuss this attractive subject. One old Maori tradition gives the names of two primal gods, Io and Ha. Oriental scholars tell us that Ea, or Ia, or Aa, was identified with Ya, Yau, or Au, the Jah of the Hebrew.
The teachings of the Whare wananga were to the effect that Io is the head of the universe. The various attendants, Whatu-kura, Marei-kura, and Poutiriao, are all emissaries of Io, and under his sway, and, as they are the welfare of all beings and all things, then it follows that all beings, all things, all eyes, all ears, are turned to Io-matua, Io the Parent. He is truly the life, the welfare, the acme, the head of all things page 91 in all realms. There is nothing to be controlled by any other being, save as a subordinate of Io.
All things possess a wairua (soul or spirit), each after the manner of its kind. There is but one parent of all things, one god of all things, one lord of all things, one soul of all things—Na reira ka kotahi nga mea katoa—therefore all things are one, and all emanated from Io the Eternal.
Such were the teachings of the Whare wananga as to the attributes of the Supreme Being, such was the cult of Io. We see here the evidence of a superior phase of mentality, of a high plane of introspective thought, as possessed by the ancestors of the Maori in times long passed away. We can see how the superior minds of a barbaric people endeavoured to trace the origin of matter and of life, how they evolved a belief in the Universal Soul, and how, groping their way forth from the darkness of ages, they conceived a Supreme Being of beneficent aspect. They had weakened the bonds of enslaving superstition, and set their feet on the long, long path that leads to monotheism.
In one version of this cosmogonic genealogy, which was collected in the Whakatane district, each of the above names includes ten generations, or periods. Thus it gives “The first Pu” to “The tenth Pu,” and so on. The above names assuredly carry the mind back to old-world concepts of the sacred tree, the cosmogonic tree, or universe tree. From the Po page 92 (Darkness, or the Unknown) sprang the Sky Parent and the Earth Mother, alluded to as the primal parents from whom all things sprang.
There are a number of different versions of these theogonic and cosmogonic myths, as taught in different districts. One commences with Atea (Syn. Watea=Space), and includes ten names, the last two of which, Te Po and Te Kore, are the only ones that are included in the list given above. This second list includes names meaning Mind, Thought, Desire, Welfare, Seeking, Energy, etc. These are given as follows:—From development (as in the womb) sprang Growth; from Growth sprang Energy; from Energy sprang Thought; from Thought sprang Mind; from Mind sprang Desire; and so on down to Rangi and Papa. The sky was spread out above the earth. A South Island version is to the effect that from the unknown came the universe, then the world of light and life, then the enduring world, then the unattainable void, the unstable void, and so on to moisture, which, combined with limitless thought, produced Rangi, the sky.
An interesting version of the origin of the primal parents was given by a Waikato chieftain. This cosmogonic scheme is of a novel form, inasmuch as it commences with the name of Io and is brought down in two lines, showing the male and female lines of descent. It commences as follows:—
In this version Io, the Supreme Being, is credited with having brought the stars into existence. The stars produced the moon and sun, a novel feature in Maori myth, wherein the stars are usually described as the younger relatives (taina) of the moon and sun. The moon heads the female line of descent, and the sun the male line. Each line of descent consists of nineteen names, commencing with Te Po, to which are added qualifying expressions, in the female line, and with Te Ao in the male line. The same qualifying terms are page 93 employed in both lines, as Te Po-nui (the great darkness, or great night) and Te Ao-nui (the great light, or great day). The twentieth name from Te Marama is that of Papa-tu-a-nuku, the Earth; the twentieth from Te Ra is Rangi-nui-e-tu-nei, the Sky. These two latter personified forms mate and produce the seven great departmental deities—Rongo, Tane, Tangaroa, Tawhirimatea, Haumia, Ruaimoko, and Tu-matauenga, some of whom are known far and wide across Polynesia. Six of the seven are not credited with descendants, but from the last member, Tu-matauenga, the descent of man is traced. The first twenty-four names from that of Tu are apparently those of mythical beings, then comes the name of the old Polynesian voyager Toi, the first of that race to settle in New Zealand, according to Takitumu (east coast) tradition. Inasmuch as Toi flourished thirty generations ago, it is apparent that the human race is not quite so old as we thought it was. Several tribes thus trace the descent of man from Tu, though Tane is more generally credited with having been the forbear of man, and apparently has the better claim, as we shall see anon.
The first name given after that of Tu is Aitua, a word that, in vernacular speech, means “misfortune.” Then come four names commencing with Aitu, a word meaning “demon,” also “calamity, sickness.” Then come seven names beginning with Kore (chaos, nothingness); then five Ngana names, then comes Tiki under four names, of whom we shall hear again.
The crediting of light to the male line, and of darkness to the female line, is quite in accordance with Maori views, for ever in native myth and belief the female sex is given an inferior position. Woman is allied with misfortune and inferiority, as among other barbaric races. The word Po is explained below; while ao denotes day, to dawn, and, as an adjective, bright.
In mist-laden days of the remote past the sky and earth were not parted as we now see them, for Rangi the Sky Father closely embraced Papa the Earth Mother. Hence all was darkness between them, no light existed, nothing could mature, nothing could bear fruit, all things merely existed, or moved aimlessly about in a realm of darkness. When the page 94 children of these primal parents were born they found themselves dwelling in darkness, and clung to the body of the Earth Mother, sheltering within her armpits. Darkness prevailed; no glimmer of light reached the children. This period of darkness is known as the Po (Cf. po= night; pouri=dark, darkness). The offspring numbered seventy, once told; all were males, and all were supernatural beings (atua).
- 1. The pre-natal period.
- 2. The period after death.
- 3. The spirit world.
- 4. The æons of time prior to the existence of Rangi and Papa. sky and earth.
In vernacular speech po denotes “night,” and the broad meaning of the term when employed as noted in the above four usages is “the unknown.”
Te Po—The Night, or Period of Darkness.
Te Po nui—The great Po.
Te Po roa—The long Po.
Te Po uriuri—The dark Po.
Te Po kerekere—The intensely dark Po.
Te Po tiwha—The gloom-laden Po.
During this period occurred the conception of the Earth Mother, Papa-tuanuku.
Te Po te kitea—Signifies the unseen Po.
Te Po tangotango—Signifies the changing Po.
Te Po whawha—Signifies feeling or groping.
Te Po namunamu ki taiao—Refers to the narrow passage by which man enters the world.
Te Po tahuri atu—Signifies turning, movement.
Te Po tahuri mai ki taiao—Signifies turning to this world.
These six periods represent the period of labour of the Earth Mother. The last two denote the efforts made by her offspring to enter this world (taiao) by way of the narrow page 95 passage termed the ara namunamu ki taiao. There are two aspects of the account of the primal offspring dwelling in darkness. One of these describes those children as living on the body of the Earth Mother, whom the Sky Parent was closely embracing, hence no light existed between the bodies of those parents. The other rendering is that when the children were abiding in darkness they were not yet born; it was the pre-natal darkness they abode in. When born they entered the realm of light, the ao marama.
It was Ue-poto, one of the seventy children who first ventured out into the world, and who first beheld Light. That light was but a feeble glimmer, the light of phosphorescence (hinatore), such as is emitted by Moko-huruhuru (personified form of the glow worm). Ue-poto called his brethren to come forth to the outer world, a most desirable place, where pleasing breezes brought delight. They did so come forth, though Whiro and Uru-te-ngangana, and others were averse to entering the world of light, and never ceased to upbraid Tane for his act in leading them from the sheltered haven. On emerging from that haven the children encountered the tribulations of this world, for they were assailed by Wero-i-te-ninihi, by Kunawiri, by Maeke, and others (personified forms of Cold). These were the enemies of the offspring, and hence they clung closely to the sides of Papa, the Mother, that they might retain warmth.
- 1. The maramatanga tuaiti—Represented by the dim light of the glow-worm.
- 2. The maramatanga taruaitu—The feeble light existing between Rangi and Papa prior to their separation.
- 3. The maramatanga kakarauri—The light that existed in space after the parents were separated.
- 4. The marmatanga atarau—The form of light that existed after Papa was turned over.
- 5. The maramatanga aoao nui—The light that prevails in winter.
- 6. The maramatanga tuarea—Cloudless light.
- 7. The maramatanga taiahoaho—The bright light of summer: the light that came when the heavenly bodies were placed on high.
We are, however, anticipating the higher phases of light, and must return to relate the adventures of Tane and his numerous brethren.
The offspring soon became discontented with their lot in the world. The conditions of life were irksome and unpleasing, so cramped were they for space. This lack of space was the result of the close contact of their parents at that remote period, for Rangi still embraced Papa; sky and earth were close together. It was Tane who proposed to separate them, saying:—“Let us part our parents; let us force Rangi upward, suspend him on high, and let Papa lie in space.” Most of the children agreed to this course, but Whiro and some others objected, and would have nought to do with it. This forcible separation of sky and earth is spoken of as an act of rebellion on the part of the children towards their parents, as the first act of disobedence, the first wrong committed. Already a breach had occurred between Tane and Whiro, and this was inevitable. In order to make matters clear to the reader it will be well to explain at this stage that Tane is the personified form of light, while Whiro personifies darkness and evil.
Tane, Tu, Tangaroa and Tawhiri-matea were the leaders in the task of separating heaven and earth. That task proved to be a difficult one, so closely did the parents cling together in their great affection for each other. It was found to be necessary to sever the arms of Rangi ere he could be forced upward. The blood from his grievous wounds flowed over, and was absorbed by the body of Papa, hence the horu or red ochre found within her body even unto this day. At length Rangi was forced upward, and there supported by four toko (poles used as props). These toko are said, in one version of the myth, to be the four winds, but another version explains that they were rays of the sun, and the word toko bears the double meaning of “pole” and “ray of the sun.”
Deep grief now assailed Rangi and Papa, torn apart by their unfeeling offspring. Now was heard the wailing of the Earth Mother for her lost love, and ever, even unto this day, the first of all parents mourn their separation, and exchange tokens of affection for each other. For when you see rain and dew descending upon the body of Papa the Parentless, know page 97 that they represent the tears of the Sky Parent, shed for his companion of long past time. When, moreover, as the Mist Maid glides up the green clad form of Hine-maunga, the Mountain Maid, to join the Cloud Maid in realms celestial, you behold her white, fleecy apparel floating upward, you then know that you look upon the love token of the Earth Mother to the mate of her long-lost youth.
The full name of the Sky Parent is Rangi nui e tu nei, as denoting the great heavens standing above. The Earth Mother is Papa tu a nuku, which may be rendered as Papa extending afar. The earth is sometimes termed Tahuaroa, and also Papa-tiraharaha. The qualifying term of the latter name means “facing upward,” and so denotes her position, which was that of reclining on her back and so facing the Sky Parent, until she was turned over by command of Io. The word papa, in vernacular speech, carries the sense of flatness.
Two important members of the Whatukura, or male attendants of Io in the uppermost heaven, are Rehua and Ruatau. They were employed by Io as messengers, and so visited the earth and other realms on their errands. We also hear of one Rehua who seems to have personified forests; at the Hawaiian Isles lehua was an old name for forest, while Rehua is also a star name, the summer star Antares.
Our task is now to scan an old-world myth as preserved by the far-spread Polynesian race; that version of it taught by the Maori conservers of unwritten lore. The old, old concept of a long-continued struggle between the forces of Light and Darkness, the well-known myth of Persia and many other lands, reappears here in the land of the Maori. In local story these forces were led by Tane and Whiro, personified forms of Light and Darkness, both being offspring of Rangi and Papa. In very early times these brothers disagreed. While Tane wished all the children to come forth from the close page 100 embrace of the Earth Mother into the open spaces of the world, Whiro wished to remain in darkness. Hence dissension arose among the children. Some sided with Whiro, while many followed Tane. Uru-te-ngangana, the ruddy one, at first sided with Whiro, but, in later times, joined Tane. Ruaumoko, the youngest child of Papa, was not born at the time of the exodus, hence he was left with the Earth Mother to comfort her. He yet abides within the body of Papa the Mother, where he represents subterranean fire, volcanic action, and earthquakes. He is the cause of all earthquakes. When a shock is felt in spring time it is caused by Ruaumoko turning over; he is turning the cold down and the warmth uppermost. In the autumn he reverses the process.
Whiro also was angered at having to endure the cold and discomfort of the outer world, the open spaces. He objected to the separation of Rangi and Papa, to their limbs being severed, to the superior attitude of Tane, to his ascent to the heavens to obtain the three “baskets” of knowledge. Yet another cause did Whiro have for his opposition to Tane. Ruatau and Rehua, the two messengers of Io, came down to Maunga-nui (great mountain) and bade Tane and Tupai ascend it. They did so, whereupon they were conducted to the Wai o Rongo (waters of Rongo), where the sacred tohi rite was performed over them, as also the pure. In this baptismal ceremony they received the names of Tane-nui-a-Rangi (great Tane, offspring of Rangi) and Tupai-a-tau. The twain then returned earthward, while Rehua and Ruatau returned to the realm of Io.
The above incident increased the ill-feeling of Whiro towards his younger brother Tane, and so the rivalry between them continued. In this struggle between the personified forms of natural phenomena we shall see a parallel to the old Egyptian myth wherein the contest between the forces of Nature was controlled by the sun.
At a certain time Io the Permanent one sent Ruatau and Aitupawa, two of his attendants, down to this world in order to ascertain which member of the primal offspring would be selected to ascend to the realm of Io in order to obtain the wananga. This term, as we have seen, denotes occult knowledge and arts, high-class esoteric lore. These celestial messengers visited Tu-te-aniwaniwa, the abode of Whiro and page 101 Uru; Wharekura, the domain of Rongo, and others, also Huaki-pouri, the home of Tane, Paia, and others of the brethren. Whiro declared that he would ascend to the uppermost heaven to obtain the prized wananga, that he would ascend thereto by scaling the sides of the heavens. But Aitu-pawa said: “Not so. It cannot be accomplished in that way.” Tane declared that he would make the ascent, that he would ascend by way of the Ara-tiatia, the Toi-huarewa of the offspring of his brother Tawhiri-matea. These two terms are sacerdotal or honorific names for the whirlwind. Many of the brethren were in favour of Tane being selected to carry out the important task at the behest of Io. Whiro was again angered by this selection of Tane.
Tane now decided that a fit place must be prepared in which to preserve the sacred wananga, when obtained from Io. He proposed to proceed to Rangi-tamaku (the second of the twelve heavens) in order to procure the semblance of the Whare kura of that realm, which house had been erected by one Nuku-te-aio, father of Rua-i-te-pukenga (one of the personified forms of knowledge). It was a house of elaborate structure, and provided with two windows, one on either side of the doorway. Thus it was that the first Whare wananga was constructed in this world. It was named Wharekura. Other important houses were also here erected during that period, such as Hui-te-ana-nui, which was a mata-wha (four-eyed), that is to say a house of four windows, two at each end. Another was Haowhenua, the house of Rongo, in which was conserved knowledge pertaining to the art of agriculture, and all food supplies. The house of Tu was Roroku-o-te-rangi, an extremely tapu place, in which the knowledge of all gods, ritual, and implements connected with war, was preserved.
Tane was now prepared to commence his ascent, but meanwhile Whiro had already begun to scale the side of the heavens, as he wished to obtain the prize himself, and so confuse Tane. Tane now began his ascent, accompanied by Tawhiri-matea (personified form of wind), by Tamakaka and Tupai. They ascended by way of the Ara-tiatia (whirlwind); they were borne upward by the Whanau puhi (the Wind Children). Other brethren now joined the company, including Tukapua (personified form of clouds). Whiro reached Rangi- page 102 tamaku (the second heaven, counting upward), when he heard that Tane had attained the third heaven. So exasperated was Whiro that he despatched the horde of the Whanau akaaka, the repulsive ones, to assail Tane. These emissaries were insects, reptiles, and certain carrion-eating birds. They furiously attacked Tane, and endeavoured to obtain a portion of his blood to be used as a medium for magic spells that destroy life. But now the Wind Children came swiftly to the rescue; from the outer regions, from the vast realm of Watea (Space) they rushed to the fray. Fiercely they attacked the repulsive ones, banished them, drove them afar off.
On reaching the tenth heaven Tane underwent the pure rite, a purificatory, and, in this form, a tapu endowing ceremony, to prepare him for entrance to the supernal realm. All but two of his attendants now returned to Papa, the Earth Mother, the remaining two accompanied him to the eleventh heaven. Tane now proceeded to the Pumotomoto, the entrance to the uppermost heaven, where he was met by Rehua and other members of the Whatukura, attendants of Io. His two companions now retired to the eleventh heaven to await his return. Meanwhile Whiro the Dark One, dour and sullen, was compelled to desist in his attempt to scale the bespaced heavens; he awaited the return of Tane in order to again assail him.
The first of these names entitled him the Parent; the second connects him with occult knowledge; the third with welfare page 103 and sunlight; the fourth with virility; the fifth with the lighting of the heavens; and the sixth with disease and sickness apparently. This coupling of Tane with Maikiroa, the personified form of sickness, etc., I am unable to explain.
- 1. Tane-matua.
- 2. Tane te wananga a Rangi.
- 3. Tane te waiora.
- 4. Tane torokaha.
- 5. Tane tahurangi.
- 6. Tane maiki roa.
Tane was then conducted to Matangi-reia, where Great Io awaited him. Io now accosted Tane, employing a peculiar phrase employed in punctilious intercourse: “Na wai taua?” (From whom are we?—“descended” understood), by means of which phrase a native of rank politely enquired the name and status of a person. Tane then informed Io that he was the offspring of Rangi and Papa, and that he had come to crave a boon, namely, the three “baskets” of sacred and occult knowledge. Io then conducted Tane to the sacred place known as the Rauroha, the special domain of the Supreme Being, where the male and female attendants, styled the Whatukura and Mareikura, were assembled. Here, for the third time, Tane was subjected to the pure ceremony, after which he was given the three “baskets” of knowledge, and two highly sacred whatu atua, or supernatural stones. These stones were endowed with marvellous virtues. They gratified the desires of man, and were employed in a ceremony performed over scholars who had passed through the Whare wananga. Such scholars were seated on them during the rite, and applied their lips to the stones when the ceremonial chaunts concluded. Through later times these stones have been known as the Whatu kura a Tane and Whatu kura a Tangaroa. The three kete o te Wananga, or “baskets” of knowledge, have already been described.
Aitupawa, Rehua and others of the attendants of Io, then escorted Tane and his acquired treasures downward to the eleventh heaven. There his companions awaited him, and there the multitude of the Wind Children rejoined him, they who dwelt in the Wind House Mairiiri-kapua at Tihi o Manono, under the care of their elders, and whose playground is Tahuaroa, or Marae-nui, the vast ocean expanses.
On reaching the ninth heaven in their descent, Tane and his companions were again assailed by the emissaries of Whiro, by insects and birds. Again the swift Wind Children came to the rescue and dispersed the hordes of Whiro. They took many captives and brought them down to this world, page 104 hence we have with us to this day the mosquitoe, sandfly, mantis, and other creatures, also the hawk, bittern, bat, owl, night parrot, kea, and some other birds.
It was now that the face of the heavens was marked by reddened clouds, a token to the brethren in this world that Tane had succeeded in his great quest. Whiro alone was angered by that success. Two of the brethren now seized two famous shell trumpets and sounded a ringing blast that carried to all creatures in the world of light and life the knowledge that Tane was returning to earth with his great prize.
All now assembled at Wharekura, and in that edifice the three “baskets” and two stones were deposited at the rear end of the house. Whiro demanded that they should be handed over to him, but this course was objected to, and the darkness of disappointment and anger descended upon Whiro the Tipua.
We must now describe an important institution by means of which order is preserved throughout the universe, according to Maori myth. This was the appointment of certain supernormal beings as guardians of the different realms of the universe, and who, as acting in that capacity, were known as Poutiriao. Their duties were to regulate all things, forces, activities, realms and beings.
Ere the Whatukura returned to the realm of Io, Ruatau said to Tupai, one of the brethren: “Preserve the treasure within Wharekura, and let twelve guardians be appointed to care for it. Bear in mind that there are twelve heavens, twelve divisions of the year, twelve companies of male denizens, and twelve of female denizens of the twelve heavens. Therefore do you and Tane i te wananga select ten others to act with you.” Having made this arrangement Ruatau and the other attendants returned to the realm of Io the Eternal.
Te Kuwatawata and two others were appointed as guardians of Hawaiki-nui, otherwise known as Hawaiki-rangi. This is the name of a wondrous edifice with four entrances, wherein the spirits of the dead assemble, and from which they pass to one of the two spirit worlds. It is situated on the summit of a mountain in the old homeland of the race, far away beneath the setting sun.page 105
Uru-te-ngangana, Roiho and Roake were appointed guardians of realms celestial, of the heavenly bodies.
Kiwa, Tangaroa and Kaukau were appointed guardians of the realm of Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid.
The Poutiriao, or guardians and regulators of the elements, of winds, rain, clouds, mist, lightning, thunder, frost, etc., were Tukapua, Te Ihorangi and Tama-te-uira. (These are the personified forms of clouds, rain and lightning.)
Maiki-roa, Tu, and others were appointed as controllers of all forms of disease. The numerous Maiki brethren are all included in this dread company.
Te Ikaroa (personified form of the Milky Way) and two others were appointed as regulators of the seasons.
Rongomai-tu-waho and others were appointed guardians and controllers of all denizens of the ocean and of the fresh waters of the earth.
Kekerewai and two others were appointed as guardians of the earth and spirit world, and of all the offspring of the primal parents and their issue, which includes all living creatures on earth.
Tane and two others were appointed supervisors of all realms, and all the Poutiriao, or guardians, to preserve peace and harmony among them and among all other things in all realms. (Thus was harmony preserved, not only among all living creatures, but also among all things deemed inanimate by us, as the heavenly bodies, trees, stones, etc.) Also these supervisors reported periodically on the condition of all things in all realms to the Whatukura, who made such reports known to Io the Parent.
Rongo and two others were appointed as guardians and preservers of fertility in all things. The powers and faculties of germination and reproduction were their care.
Tupai and two others were appointed as guardians and preservers of the institutions of mana and tapu, of gods and sacred places, and the ritual pertaining to such.
Such were the duties of the Poutiriao appointed by command from Io of the Hidden Face. They reported to the Whatukura the condition of all things.
In the legend of the war between Tane and Whiro, the great contest between Light and Darkness, we have page 106 a world-old concept as preserved in mythologies of many lands. It is the old Persian myth transferred to the sunlit isles of Polynesia. The contest between Tane and Whiro was long and bitter, for the latter had no less than twelve grievances against his brother. Many fierce struggles ensued between these two beings, the personified forms of Light and Darkness, and this series of combats is known as the Paerangi. War, bitter and unrelenting, waged on earth, in the heavens, and in the vast realm of Watea (personified form of space). The end of this great contest was that Whiro was defeated by Tane and compelled to descend to the underworld, where he still abides. His full name is Whiro-te-tipua, or Whiro the demon, and he it is who is responsible for all evil that is manifested in the human mind and human acts. Hence a malignant demon is styled an atua whiro, and the latter word also denotes a person of evil character.
In New Zealand, as in Polynesia, the doings of Whiro the demon have become confused with those of one Whiro, an old-time Polynesian voyager who came to New Zealand and here settled. It requires great care to separate the incidents related, and to credit them to their proper sources.
The final defeat of Whiro led to his seeking refuge in the Po, the gloomy underworld, yet the old contest between him and Tane is still continued. For Whiro leagued with Ruaumoko, who still abides within the body of the Earth Mother, and together they assail mankind, the offspring of Tane, man who dwells in the world of light and life. Ruaumoko is the author of earthquakes and all volcanic action, and it is by means of those violent activities that he assails and endeavours to destroy mankind. But the most relentless and effective emissaries of Whiro are the dread Maiki brethren. These are Maiki-nui, Maiki-roa, Maiki-kunawhea, and others, all of whom are the personified forms of sickness and disease. This dread and grisly company ever assails mankind, ever wages ceaseless warfare against the descendants of Tane in the world of life. The Maiki clan are denizens of the subterranean world, where they dwell within Tai-whetuki, the House of Death. Before their ceaseless attacks men perish in countless numbers; they flow like water down the current of death to Rarohenga, the underworld. Such is the cause of death in the page 107 upper world, hence it is that all things know death. All evil in this world emanated from Whiro the demon. We now see why Whiro is styled the Thief, why he is the patron deity of thieves, for ever he lurks in this world to steal the life of man. A dread being is he, hence offerings were made to him in order to placate him. When man acquired food supplies, as in fishing, bird snaring, etc., a portion would be cast aside with the remark: “Ki a koe, e Whiro!” (To thee, O Whiro!).
It was in Tai-whetuki, the House of Death, that the dread art of black magic originated. For when the Pure rite was about to be performed over Hine-ahu-one, the first woman, Tu said: “Let it be so performed that man may possess courage.” But here Rongo interposed: “Let man be endowed with the qualities of ihi and maru.” By these terms are meant ability, industry, also benevolence and hospitality. Said Whiro: “Be it so; then for me to uphold the poautinitini.” This expression denotes affliction, disease, death, the grievous troubles that assail mankind. All phases of thought and action, all human activities, come under one of the three expressions, ihi, maru and poau tinitini. It will now be understood that the abiding word of the Maori is ever: “Ko Whiro te putake o te kino o te ao.” (Whiro is the origin of evil in the world.)
Now the representative of Whiro in this world is the lizard; the lizard represents death. This explains the great dread that the Maori folk entertain for the lizard, and why seeing a lizard is deemed a very serious omen. It is the emissary of Whiro and the harbinger of death. When the gods decide to destroy man they do so by introducing a lizard into his body, and that creature devours his vitals and so causes death.
Such is the Maori version of the very ancient myth concerning the contest between Light and Darkness, a myth that obtained in Asia at a very early period. In Celtic mythology Light and Life were arrayed against Darkness and Death as in Maori lore; the so-called gods of each side strove against each other. We shall have a similar contest to describe when we come to deal with Maui and the ex-Dawn Maid of Maori story, for there are two different tales connected with this subject.page 108
In Egyptian myth the struggle between the forces of Nature was controlled by the sun. The power of darkness was personified in the great snake Apopis, who was defeated and cut in pieces, always, however, to recover and renew the strife. We find an analogous myth in Maori lore, wherein Maui, who personifies Light (Cf. Moui of Egyptian myth) slays the great eel Tuna, who had meddled with Hina (female personification of the moon), and cuts him into pieces as he crawls over the nine skid way. From his tail and head, however, sprang the eels we find in the sea and rivers.
A time came when the grief of Papa, the Earth Mother, on account of her separation from Rangi, her old-time love, came to be known to Io in the uppermost heaven. The sound of her wailing was borne upward, hence Io sent Ruatau down to seek the cause of the ceaseless lamentation. Io now commanded that the Earth Mother be turned over, so that she might no longer gaze upon her lost love Rangi. This overturning is known as the Hurihanga a Mataaho, the overturning of (by) Mataaho. It has long puzzled students of Maori lore as to who Mataaho might be, but a native adept has told us that the name is in full Io-mataaho, which is one of the names of the Supreme Being. Other versions, however, make it clear that some experts believed Mataaho to be a different being to Io-mataaho. Even so was the Earth Mother turned over, so that she lay face down to Rarohenga, the underworld, hence man now dwells on her back instead of on her breast, as of yore. When she was so turned over, her youngest child, Ruaumoko, was still at her breast, or, as another version has it, yet unborn. This child she was allowed to retain in her solitude. The brothers of Ruaumoko resolved to grant him some comfort in his dark realm, hence they gave him the boon of fire. This fire was obtained for the purpose from Raka-hore, who is the personified form of rock. Thus we see that the Maori was aware of the fact that fire can be obtained from stone. This subterranean fire is known as ahi tipua (supernatural fire) and ahi komau, or buried fire. It is seen in volcanic action, and its effects are observed in the thermal district of Rotorua. Ruaumoko is responsible for all volcanic outbursts and earthquakes. The first syllable of his name is the common term for an earthquake; it means “to shake.”page 109
The primal offspring now found themselves in a more desirable realm in which to abide. Previous to the overturning of the great Mother, the space between sky and earth was never clear. Clouds, rain, mist, sleet, dew, hail and snow were incessant: all these were produced by the ceaseless mourning of the stricken parents; they were emanations caused by grief, the tears of grief produced them. But now Rangi and Papa could no longer look upon each other, and so, since that time, their grief is evident at intervals only. The universe now became known as Tahora-nui-atea (vast open and clear expanse). The world is known as the Ao-turoa, the abiding realm.
The primal offspring had been dwelling in this world during the occurrences already described, but dwelling in a realm of gloom. Dim indeed was the light that existed in the world, and now the desire grew to increase that light and so render life more pleasant.
Tane was responsible for the clothing of the body of the Sky Parent with clouds. Previous to that time the body of Rangi had been naked. Tane despatched Tawhirimatea (wind) to procure the Cloud Children, who sprang from the warmth and perspiration of the body of the Earth Mother. And so the Wind Children were sent to fetch them. They brought Ao-nui and Ao-roa (Great Cloud, Long Cloud) and all the numerous Cloud Children to serve as a garment to cover the body of the Sky Parent. Such are the clouds above us.
The body of the Earth Mother was also covered, and the garment bestowed upon her was composed of vegetation, which protected and warmed her.
The origin of the heavenly bodies is another myth that has several versions. We have seen that Tane and Tama-nui-te-ra are both names for the sun, while Rongo and Hina represent the moon. In like manner Te Ikaroa represents the Milky Way. All these are personifications, and three of them were offspring of the primal parents, but the origin of the heavenly bodies themselves is quite another story. The version taught among the Takitumu tribes is as follows:—page 110
Here we have Uru-te-ngangana, the Gleaming One, son of Rangi and Papa, and evidently a personification, who took to himself two wives, Moe-ahuru and Hine-turama. By the first he begat “The Red Sun” and “The Waxing Moon,” and by the second the stars. Hine-turama evidently represents some form of light; rama signifies a torch, turama “to give light to,” also “illuminated.” Moreover, she is said to have been a daughter of Tane, the great Light Giver. In another version we have:— This looks like a case of different parentage, but native experts tell us that Tongatonga and Turangi (the Sky Stander) are two other names of Uru-te ngangana, and that Hine-te-ahuru is the same as Moe-ahuru. In this version, however, Uru, alias Tongatonga, appears, not as a son of Rangi, but as a grandson, his immediate progenitor being Whiro, who personifies darkness, hence Light emanated from Darkness. Rona is said by some authorities to have been the child of the above couple; she is the conductor of the moon and a controller of tides. In popular myth she devours, or maltreats, the moon, and so causes the waning of that orb.
The stars are often termed the ra ririki, the little suns, and they are alluded to as the younger relatives of the sun and moon, who, in conjunction with Te Ikaroa, the Milky Way, are their guardians. The heavenly bodies are termed the Whanau-marama, the Shining Ones, or givers of light; they are the Children of Light. Their guardians preserve order among them, but occasionally they jostle each other, and one may be seen to fall from his place; such is the native explanation of meteors.
The sun is said to have had two wives, Hine-raumati (Summer Maid) and Hine-takurua (Winter Maid); he lives half the year with each. The realm of the Winter Maid is the ocean, her task is to conserve fish; the Summer Maid is concerned with the cultivation of food products, and the fruits of the forest. At the time called the takanga o te ra (changing of the sun, that is to say the winter solstice) the sun abandons page 111 his winter wife on the ocean, and returns to the Summer Maid on land. The offspring of the latter was Tane-rore, and the shimmering appearance of heated air in midsummer is called “The Dancing of Tane-rore.” It is personified in one Pare-arohi, a female. In Moriori (Chatham Isles) myth the sun has three daughters—Hine-ata, the Morning Maid; Hine-aotea, the Day Maid; and Hine-ahiahi, the Evening Maid.
In remote times all the Children of Light dwelt with their parents at Maunga-nui (Great Mountain). There the ruddy sun, Pale Hina, the little suns and Rona, all roamed about the Strand at Oroku. The Shining Ones are sometimes termed the adornments of the house of Tane-te-waiora. This name of Tane is the one that betokens him as the origin of light, while the heavens above are alluded to as the “house of Tane.”
The gloom of primal light was trying to the children of Rangi and Papa; in a murky realm they ever abode. Hence it was resolved to seek more light, to enlighten the body of the Earth Mother and the breast of the Sky Parent. The thought came to Tane that he would procure the Whanau-marama, the Shining Ones, and so bring light into the world. Even so Tane proceeded to Maunga-nui and obtained the light-giving offspring of his brother Uru. All the Children of Light were placed in a “basket” (i.e., receptacle) and that receptacle, we are told, was the Milky Way. One of the children was left hanging outside the basket; this was the one called Autahi (Canopus). The Star Children and their elders were placed in a canoe named Uruao, generally known as Te Waka o Tama-rereti (The Canoe of Tama-rereti). This canoe is now seen in the heavens; it is the Tail of the Scorpion. On this vessel the Shining Ones were conveyed to the heavens and there arranged on the body of the Sky Parent. The red sun was placed on the breast of Rangi, the moon on his stomach, the little suns were scattered over his body, head and limbs Tane then bade Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way) take a position amid the Whanau-marama in order to guard and control them. Were it not for Te Ikaroa and Tama-rereti there would be much dissension among the Star Children.
Tane and his brethren now saw that the body of Rangi was well lighted, and his face could be plainly seen. His page 112 grandchildren could be seen roaming athwart his body, and Rangi commanded the Star Children to keep close to the Milky Way for protection, also that that guardian should act as a harbinger of the coming day. Thus it is that the Maori folk ever look to Te Ikaroa that spans the breast of Rangi in order to note by its position the approach of dawn.
It was then found that, when the ruddy sun moved abroad, the heat was intense. The body of the Earth Mother became dried up, the dust arose so that the face of man could not be seen. The body of Papa, the Earth Mother, was not sufficiently covered to enable her to endure the intense heat. Then Tane commanded the Shining Ones to rearrange their movements:—“Let the red sun take the lead and move in front; let the waxing moon follow behind him; let the little suns be separated, all following the leading of the sun, even that we may obtain sleep.” This command was obeyed, and so were day and night divided. The day was assigned to the red sun, and the night to the moon, the Milky Way, and their young relatives, the little suns. At this time also was Rona appointed guardian of the waxing moon, and all these lesser ones followed behind the shadow of their elder, the red sun.
It was soon found that the heat of the sun was still too great for comfort, and the offspring of the Earth Mother moaned in their anguish. Tane then arranged that the red sun should be moved to the back of Rangi, leaving the lesser ones on his breast. But when the sun moved towards the head of Rangi, the Sky Parent cried aloud, so fierce was the heat, for this was the season of summer. So the course of the red sun was again altered, and then all was well. When the sun moves towards the legs of Rangi, then the winter is with us; when it moves towards his head, then summer has come.
Then Tane spake to Tawhirimatea and to Tukapua (personifications of winds and clouds), and arrangements were made to accommodate the Wind Children and the Cloud Children. The former were located at the Tihi o Manono; the latter were placed in the Cloud House, wherein abide Hine-kapua, the Cloud Maid, and the whole of the Cloud Children. At times these folk leave their abodes, and so we see the Whanau-puhi, the Wind Children, pursuing and harrying the Cloud Maid and the Whanau-kapua, the Cloud Children, in page 113 the vast realm of Watea (Space), and across the breast of the Sky Parent.
It was now seen that the world was a desirable place in which to dwell, that grateful conditions obtained on the far-spread body of the Earth Mother. Hence Uru the Gleaming One said to his brothers: “How are we to generate offspring to occupy the World of Light? Let us seek the female element that we may beget a race of beings to assume our forms, and so people the enduring world of light around us.” Thus it was proposed that the female element should be obtained from among the female denizens of the heavens, but Uru objected, and explained that all those females were supernatural beings, and, by mating with similar beings, they could not possibly produce the ira tangata (human life, mortal life, life as possessed by man). The result of such unions would but perpetuate the ira atua (supernatural life, such life as is possessed by gods). It was desired that man, a mortal race, should be produced to inhabit the fair earth. It has already been explained that all the offspring of Rangi and Papa were of the male sex, and that all were supernatural beings. It was clear that all the denizens of the heavens were of a similar nature, and therefore the ira tangata must be sought in the lower world. The female element, of a nature lower than that of the gods, must be sought in the realm of the Earth Mother.
We have now to speak of Tane in his important character as the Fertiliser, the personification of procreative power, as the progenitor of vegetation and of man. We are told that the pagan Semites identified the active force in Nature with the sun, and the passive force with the earth. This is precisely the Maori concept, but ever he deemed the female sex somewhat inferior to the male. The male sex originated with the gods, is of supernatural origin, but the first female of the ira tangata was fashioned from a portion of the Earth Mother; ever does woman bear the brand of her inferior origin.
Tane and his brothers now commenced their long search for the uha, the female element that was destined to produce man the mortal. The brothers separated and went their various ways of diligent search. To far regions they went, and many realms they traversed, far and wide they roamed athwart the body of the Earth Mother. They explored the page 114 vast expense of Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, but no sign came to them; the female element was unseen. No being was found who might produce man; hence the sententious saying of yore: “Unseen, Unsuitable, Unacquired.”
It was Tane who sought out certain female beings by whom he strove to become the progenitor of man. It was found that reptiles produced eggs, which was considered to be an unsuitable mode of reproduction for them; hence it was decided that reptiles should be viviparous, and that the production of eggs should be confined to birds. An exception was made in the case of the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatum). The first egg was formed by Peketua, who took it to Tane and asked him what he should do with it. Tane replied, “Give it life,” and that egg produced the reptile called tuatara, which is thus allied to birds. Punaweko formed another egg that produced land birds, while Hurumanu fashioned another that produced sea birds. But the female of the ira tangata was not found. Tane then mated with one Parauri, a female, who produced the koko and other forest birds. These were fed on the parasites of the heads of Rehua and Tunuku, but they did not flourish. They were then fed on those of the heads of the younger folk, of Maire, and Miro, and Kahika, and Tutu, and Toro, and Mako (all names of trees the berries of which are eaten by birds). All these folk dwell within the Great Forest of Tane.
Tane mated with many female beings in his great desire to beget man. He took Apunga, who produced small plants. He took Mumuhanga, who produced the totara tree. He took Te Pu-whakahara, who produced the maire and puriri trees. He took Rerenoa, who produced epiphytic plants. He took Tutoro-whenua, who produced Haumia (personified form of the edible rhizome of the bracken, Pteris aquilina var. esculenta). He took Hine-tu-pari-maunga, the Mountain Maid, and begat Para-whenua-mea (personified form of water). He took Tauwhare-kiokio, who produced the different species of tree ferns. He took Tu-kapua, who produced the tawai tree. He took Haere-awaawa, who produced the weka (a bird), and so on. Such were the acts of Tane the Fertiliser; he impregnated all female forces and natures, but the issue in all cases did not accord with desire; the goal of the long search was not reached; the ira tangata was not discovered.page 115
The brothers returned from their fruitless search, and assembled at Wharekura in order to discuss new lines of search. It was now that Roiho called down to Tane, and enquired: “What is it ye seek, O Tane?” Tane replied, saying: “We seek the way to the female element, such is our task.” Then Roiho and Roake and Haepuru, denizens of the heavens, said to Tane: “Proceed to the Strand at Kurawaka, for at that place exists the female element in its virginity; that element is in a state of tapu, for it is the very seed of man. Fashion the female at the puke (Mons Veneris) of Papa the Earth Mother.”
Now Tane and his companions proceeded to the place indicated, and there Tane took a portion of the body of the Earth Mother and moulded it into the form of a female, an image fashioned in the form of himself, but formed of earth and void of life. It now remained for Tane to endow that figure with life, to implant the manawa ora (breath of life) in its nostrils, mouth and ears. Then the vital human breath came forth, the eyelids opened, the eyes looked, the damp, mist-like breath issued from the mouth, a sneeze broke from the nostrils—sneeze thou living soul in the world of life; progeny to the gods is secured, the female element is found, the ira tangata exists. The long quest for the female element was now closed: Woman had entered the world.
The newly-formed Woman was conducted to the sacred place of rites, where certain ceremonies were performed over her to dissipate the intense tapu resulting from the act of the demiurge Tane. It is explained that the organs, the blood, the breath of life, and the wairua (soul, spirit) implanted in the lifeless form were procured from Io the Supreme Being. Io and Rehua provided the mind, while Punaweko furnished the hair. It was now that this maid, the first woman, was given the name of Hine-ahu-one, the Earth-formed Maid. She possessed the nature, the organs, to enable her to bring man into the world; the welfare of mankind in the enduring world emanated from this Maid and from Tane the Parent.
It was now decided that Tane should beget man, and Tiki-ahua was called upon to assist in the great task of bringing mortal man into the world. As he did so Tupai intoned the necessary invocatory formula by virtue of which Tane and page 116 Hine-ahu-one became man and wife. Then Haepuru recited another form of karakia that called upon Tiki to perform his task, and which had the effect of causing Hine to conceive. Then Roiho and Roake repeated another to endow Tane with the necessary powers to enable him to beget man, the ira tangata. The end of this act was the condition known as Te Matenga o Tiki—the Death of Tiki. Since the days of Tane these ritual formulæ have been employed as what we would term a marriage service, and as a charm to cause women to conceive. They are exceedingly tapu recitations.
On the completion of the above act the Pure rite was performed over Tane and Hine, and they also underwent ceremonial immersion. They then proceeded to Wharekura, where the tapu was lifted from them, and they performed the Ngau paepae, a peculiar rite to be described anon. The Earth Formed Maid was then conducted to the house named Hui-te-ana-nui, that had been constructed for her use. It was a house elaborately decorated with carved designs.
In course of time Hine gave birth to a child, who was named Hine-titama. Other children were born to her in after days, all being females, the most remarkable of whom were Hine-te-uira (The Lightning Maid, personified form of lightning) and Hine-kapua (The Cloud Maid, personification of clouds). Tane-matua then took Hine-titama, his eldest daughter, to wife, by whom he had several female children, of whom the most renowned was Hine-rau-wharangi, the personified form of growth in the vegetable world.
It is said that Hine-rau-wharangi was born in the Aonui month of the Orongonui season, about our June. When the iho (umbilical cord) of the child came away mother and child were conducted to the porch of the house Hui-te-ananui. The people collected on the plaza, and Tupai, taking the infant in his arms, recited a tapu formula over it. Then came the Maioha ceremony; all the people stood up to greet mother and child. The next performance was that of the rite termed Tohi ururangi, which was carried out by a priest standing in the running waters of a stream.
Hine-titama, by means of potent charms, caused her children to sleep soundly, and also weakened the powers of Tane should he pursue her. She went by way of Whiti-a-naunau to Poutere-rangi, where the entrance to the lower world is. At the entrance she found one Kuwatawata, the guardian of the Tatau o te Po (The Gates of the Underworld). He enquired: “Whither go you?” Hine replied: “Let me pass; I go to the underworld.” The guardian endeavoured to dissuade her: “Turn back ere it is too late. The world of life and welfare is behind you, the spirit world before you. Return to the ao marama (world of light).” But Hine said: “Not so. I go to the lower world, the realm of the unknown, there to protect the welfare of my children of the Ao-turoa (the upper world).”
Now here we have the cause of the welfare of the human spirit after the death of the body. The wairua (soul, spirit) does not perish. It is protected by Hine-titama in the underworld She it is who protects our spiritual welfare. The mother of our race is the saviour of the human soul.
Ere she descended to Rarohenga, Hine-titama turned toward the world of life she was leaving for ever, and saw Tane following her, weeping as he came. Then Hine looked her last upon Tane and said to him: “Return, O Tane! to our offspring. I have abandoned the upper world as a realm for you, my realm shall be the Po beneath us. Turn back; for you to bring our children up to the light of day, for me to page 119 guard their spiritual welfare in the spirit world.” She then, by means of the power termed hoa, caused the Pomum Adami to appear in the throat of Tane as a token of their relations to each other, a token that is seen in all men, but no women, even to the present day. Then Hine-titama turned to the portals of the lower world, and, passing through the Tatau o te Po, descended to the spirit world to take up her endless task.
The name of this first-born daughter of Tane the Parent and the Earth Formed Maid had been Hine-titama in the upper world. When she took up her abode in Rarohenga, the subterranean spirit world, she discarded that name and adopted that of Hine-nui-te-Po. She was now the Great Dame of the Po, or spirit world, the important being of that realm. She had constituted herself guardian of the souls of men, protector and champion of the spirits of the dead as against dread Whiro and his henchmen. Tane cares for his descendants in the upper world, but when decay and dissolution come to them, they then pass to the spirit world of Rarohenga, there to be guarded ever by great Hine.
Now to place Hine-titama in her true position in our records of Maori lore. Who was this fair Maid whose beauty is described by the Maori in such glowing terms, who sprang from the loins of Tane the Great One, to be wooed by him and pursued across the vast realm of Papa even unto the bounds of night? She is the Maid of whom we have all heard, whose beauty has caused, throughout all time, the eye of man to kindle, the heart of man to rejoice. For, even as Tane represents the red sun that gleams in fair skies, so does his daughter represent the soul-filling beauty that Tane casts athwart the form of the Sky Parent. These glorious hues are reflected by other offspring of Tane, by Hine-kapua, the Cloud Maid, by Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, Hine-makohu, the Mist Maid, and by the great form of Hine-maunga, the Mountain Maid. The vast realm of Watea is lightened by her beauty, the old Earth Mother responds to her gracious presence, the very denizens of the twelve heavens welcome her fair form. Hine-titama is the Dawn Maid.
When our fair one fled westward, Tane followed her, as he must follow all dawns. Hine retired before him, as all page 120 dawns must retire before the rising sun. Ever westward she retires, until, at the edge of the world, she finds but one retreat open to her, the underworld. The shades of evening had fallen across the body of the Earth Mother, the ruddy form of Tane was suspended over the realm of Night, as the first of all Dawn Maids looked her last upon the upper world and passed down the long descent to the underworld of Night and Darkness.
Here I feel impelled to quote a description of the Maori personified form of dawn, as given by an old native some fifty-five years ago. It illustrates an interesting phase of Maori mentality, and his remarkable genius for personification.
“This is Hine-titama, she who was known as Hine-nuite-Po when she retired to the underworld. Truly was she a woman of surpassing charm. Her eyes were like unto the flame of a glowing fire, and her form was of great beauty. Her body gleamed with a ruddy hue, her skin was smooth as the karengo seaweed, her face was like unto a summer day, calm and beautiful, and her breast resembled the placid ocean that glows at sunset in the eighth moon. When she came forth from her abode bright beyond compare was the light of her eyes. When she disrobed and went forth to bathe, verily her skin resembled the breast of the beautiful koroirangi bird. and the shimmering beauty of Parearohi* Her limbs were as shapely as though carefully fashioned by the hand of man, and her lovely hair charmed the observer. Thus it was that, when the men of yore beheld a woman of great beauty, they quoted an old-time saying of the Maori folk: ‘Ko Hine-titama koe, matawai ana te whatu i te tirohanga’ (You are like Hinetitama, the eye glistens when gazing upon you).”
Such was the description of the Dawn Maid given by the neolithic Maori, such the concept of a cannibal folk, such the mentality of barbaric man. The sages have told us that the whole of the seventy offspring of the primal parents had issue. The offspring of some were supernatural beings, those of others were stones of different kinds, or insects and reptiles.
There is another myth concerning the origin of man to be considered. In a version that occupies a secondary position page 121 the origin of man, the ira tangata, is traced to Tu-matauenga, a brother of Tane, who is one of the most important of the secondary gods, inasmuch as he is the tutelary being connected with the art of war. I am inclined to believe that Tu personifies the setting sun, and hence is connected with bloodshed. The version to be described seems to be a second-class myth as it were, a popular authropogenic myth; apparently it was not taught by the superior school of learning. It will be explained that those who taught that Tiki was the first man were assuredly not conversant with the inner meaning of Maori authropogenic myths.
The following account of the popular version of the origin of man was recorded by the late Colonel Gudgeon in Vol. XIV. of the Journal of the Polynesian Society. Tu-matau-enga decided that supernatural beings were not fitted to populate this world, and so he set about introducing the ira tangata, or mortal life. In doing so he did not actually beget man as Tane begat Hine-titama. He created the first man and that man was the progenitor of the human race. He fashioned an image after his own form from earth, and deposited it at a tuahu, a mound formed of earth, in which had been inserted two small green branchlets that represented life and death. By means of certain rites and his own marvellous powers he endowed that image with life. This living person of the male sex was named Tiki; it was he who became the father of the human race. The name of the being he took to wife is not generally known, but is said by some to have been Io-wahine (female Io). At the time when Colonel Gudgeon published his paper we had not the evidence concerning the identity of Tiki that we now possess. The Colonel was evidently not satisfied with explanations furnished by the natives, and stated that he had formed the opinion that Tiki was the personified form of the life principle. This was a remarkably shrewd guess, for we now possess clear evidence that Tiki is the personified form of the male organ of reproduction. In popular myth he is described either as the first man, or as the maker of the first man.
A form of cradle for infants not yet able to walk, termed a Pakokori or Korowhitiwhiti. The mother engaged in weaving
(Original by A.H. Messenger
The cosmogonic genealogies of New Zealand and Polynesia are interesting productions, inasmuch as they show us how these barbaric folk strove to understand Nature and sought to learn the origin of the universe and of man. In the superior versions of such conceptions we observe evidence of mental powers of no mean order.
In Indian myth, the sun marries Ushas, the Dawn, which recalls Tane's search for the uha, or female element, and his taking Hine-titama to wife.
* Parearohi is the personification of the quivering appearance of heated air, as seen in summer.