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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 1

The Finding of the Uha: The Earth-formed Maid created by Tane

The Finding of the Uha: The Earth-formed Maid created by Tane

Tane and his brethren then gathered at Kurawaka, which is the puke (mons veneris) of the Earth Mother, and there formed an image composed of earth, a portion of the body of Papa, their mother. They made the figure so as to resemble themselves; the skeleton, head, body, and limbs, all were similar, save the aroaro, which was adorned by the eye of Tiwhaia, plucked out for the purpose. Punaweko (personified form of birds) provided the hair as an adornment. It was then left for Tane to instil the breath of life into the nostrils, mouth, and ears of the lifeless figure. Then the human airlike breath came forth, the eyelids opened, the eyes gazed, the mouth gasped, a sneeze broke from the nostrils—a sneeze of life, of a living soul in this world, of a person, a female. Woman had entered the world!

We are told that the wairua (spirit), the manawa ora (breath of life), and the blood were provided by Io the Supreme Being, and obtained by Rehua. The lungs were provided by Tawhiri-matea. The mahara (thinking-power) was furnished by the whatukura, denizens of the uppermost heaven; and thought is personified in Rua-i-te-hiringa, Rua-i-te-pukenga, Rua-i-te-mahara, and Rua-i-te-wananga. Thus the various organs and faculties necessary to the creation of the first woman—that is, of the ira tangata—were obtained from three sources, the Supreme Being, the attendant denizens of the heavens, and from the offspring of the Earth Mother. page 122These three sources combined produced, we are told, the ira tangata, human life. The part performed by the Earth Mother was that of sheltering, nurturing, cherishing; she represents the receptive and passive element, while Tane represents the active, fertilizing, creative male element. Thus was Hine-ahu-one formed at the One-i-Kura-waka as a receptacle, an abiding-place for the organs, the spirit, breath of life, and faculties that formed and vivified the uha, the female of the ira tangata.

When Hine-ahu-one acquired life she was taken to the sacred place at Mauri-takina, where the performance of certain ritual ceremonies relieved her of the intense tapu pertaining to her.

The following is another version of the quest of the female element, and the forming of Hine-ahu-one:—

Tane now considered that the ira tangata, or human life, would never be found among ira atua, or supernatural life. He said to Uru-te-ngangana and Roiho, "The ira tangata cannot be found; who has the semblance of such?" Uru replied, "O Tane! The ira tangata exists not in all things known to us. We must engage in a search for the uha." Even so the offspring of Rangi and Papa separated, and set forth to search all realms for the female element that might produce man, arranging to assemble at Rangitatau in the orongonui season. So sought they the uha—finding the female of all things, all species, but the uha of the ira tangata, or mortal human female, was not found by them.

Now, Roiho, Roake, Haepuru, and Haematua, who had sympathized with Rangi-nui when the primal parents were separated, called down from the back of Rangi, saying, "O Tane! Proceed to the puke (mons veneris) of our mother, and there form the uha; that is its place." Hence the offspring went to the pubes of Papa, at Kurawaka, and there formed the uha, the first woman.

In the forming of the image the head was fashioned by Haematua, Roiho, Roake, and Haepuru. Uru-te-ngangana fetched the eyes from Wharekura, the eyes of Tiwhaia being extracted wherewith to adorn the uha, while a small portion of Ao-kapua (representing clouds) was placed as a setting for these eye-pupils (the white of the eye was a fragment of a white cloud). The bones were formed by Tupai; the sinews and muscles were arranged in their places by Tu-matauenga and Te Akaaka-matua. The stomach and entrails were formed by Rongo-maraeroa and Turamarama-a-nuku; the kidneys and liver by Tumata-huki and Tumata-rauiri. The heart, water, and blood were fetched from Io-te-waiora, the Eternal Parent, by the whatukura and mareikura of the uppermost heaven. The lungs were obtained by Tawhiri-matea and Tukapua from the clouds, in order to page 123moisten the scattered parts of the body. The tongue and throat were provided by Tanga-i-waho and Rua-taumata; the nose and lips by Rongomai-tu-waho and Tumatakaka. The puta hikahika was formed by Rongo-whakaata and Uepoto. Tiwhaia located the timutimu (pudenda muliebria). Mauhi extended the raho (labia majora), Taiepa and Peketua arranged it as a covering. Punaweko and Hurumanu provided the hair as an adornment and covering (tupini). Te Ihorangi and Toro-i-waho provided the pae of the tiki and the waipipi. Te Ra-kura and Nganangana-a-rangi arranged the puapua so as to shelter the tiki. Te Kuwatawata and Uruao arranged the werewere; Tawhana and Uenuku-rangi placed the mokakati between the pae-o-tiki and the puapua. Tane himself placed the maunene at the farther end, as also its weapon the wairutua, whereupon the contest between Tiki and Karihi became continual; peace between that twain is unknown.*

The offspring now consulted as to who should take position on the pubes of Papa, and it was decided that Tane should so act. Tane then, by a series of acts, produced various exudations from the body, whereupon Roiho said to him, "E Tane! Horahia i te takapau rangi, waiho i te toi matua, i te toi ora ki taiao"—a cryptic expression by no means easy of translation. Then, as Tane vivified the image, Paia chanted the following ritual:—
E hine … eE tupu o kikokiko, o iwi, o uaua, o toto
Tenei au, he tama na Rangi-nuiTo manawa, to ate, to pukapuka, o takihi
Iere tu ki tenei tama
E nine… e.Ki te toi ora o Io nui
Ahua to uru tapu, ahua to tinana puhiKi tenei hine … e … i.
Ahua o kikokiko, o uauaTenei au kei te pu, kei te weu
Ahua o iwi, ahua o waewae, o ringaringaKei te hiringa tipua i te atua ki a koe
Ahua i roto, ahua i wahoE hine … e … i.
Ki te toi ora na Io nuiPurangi to hiringa, purangi o mahara
Na Io matua, na Io te waioraPurangi to hauora, purangi to hau manawa
Na Io te mahara
Ki te hiringa tipua, ki te hiringa tahito nouKi taiao nei, e hine … e.
Purangi aho o mata, e hine … e … i.
E Io te wananga … e … i.Ki taiao nei … e … i.

Now, Tane was panting as he breathed into the mouth and nostrils, and then Hine acquired life. A sigh of life came from her, the soulprinciple possessed her, a sneeze betokened life in the organs; Hine-ahu-one, the Earth-formed Maid, the first woman, lived. The ira tangata had entered the world. And even as a sneeze was the first sign of organic life in the image, so does the saying Tihere mauri ora ki te whai ao, ki te ao marama (Sneeze, living soul, in the world of being, in the world of life) come down the long ages to the present time.

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Then, as Tane-matua begat the firstfruit of the ira tangata, he chanted the following over Tiki:—
He tama au, he tipua auAhua he puapua, he werewere
He tane au nou, e hine … e … i.Ahu he tawahie, he hanahana
E hine i te pu, e hine i te weuAhua ki a koe, e mokakati
E hine i te akaaka matuaWhakaoti hiku ki a koe,
E hine i te akaaka tipuaE maunene … e … i.
Ki te kauru ora, ki te whai ao,E karihi … e … i.
Ki te ao marama ki au, e hine … e … i.Tenei ka tu
Tenei au kei te uru tu, kei te uru tauTenei ka tau ki roto tipua nou
Ki a koe, e hine … e … i.E tiki nui, e tiki roa
He tiki te ahua, he tiki te whaia, he tiki i ahuaE tiki matua, e tiki waiora
He tiki atua ki a koe, e hine … e … i.
Ki te paepae waitau, ki te paepae wai nauTenei taku tiki nui, taku tiki roa
E hine … e … i.Taku tiki torokaha.
I ahua te papa ueue ki te piereKo tiki te mumura, ko tiki te hanahana
Ki te papa makukuHahana ki roto ki to piere tau
Ahua to ara waitau, to ara pipiwaiKi to piere awa karihi, e hine … e … i.
Ahua ki te ara karihi
At this juncture Haepuru took up the recitation, as follows:—
E hine i ana hahanaI to katitohe hahana
Te pae matua hahanaI to karihi uru tipua
I te puapua hahanaE hine … e … i.
I o werewere hahana

Hine was now a breathing woman; she had entered the world of life and being. Her mission was to give birth to the ira tangata, to man endowed with the vitality of this world. And this slaying or overcoming of Tiki is known as the death or fall of Tikinui at the reddened waters of Karihi-tapoa, while the place where Hine-ahuone was fashioned and vivified is ever known as Te One-i-Kurawaka (the strand at Kurawaka).

Hine was then taken to the ahurewa, or sacred place, of Hawaikinui, where the pure ritual was intoned over her, after which another ceremony, performed at the turuma of Rangitatau, released her from tapu. She was then taken to the water set aside for ceremonial performances, the wai hauparoa, and immersed therein, where the tohi, or baptismal rite, was performed over her, and she received the name of Hine-ahu-one, of which Hine-hau-one is a variant form.

We now see that Hine-ahu-one was a being partly supernatural or godlike, and partly mortal, or, rather, of earthly origin. The two were combined in her, and the result was man, the human race; the name man (homo) began with her. The wairua (spirit) of the godlike supernatural beings was now transferred in part to the human race, a condition that has continued until the present time. The seed of life is with the male, with the female is the passive, nurturing haven bed. The seed (or fruit) of the god is with the male, becausepage 125he is the offspring of gods. The female sprang from the earth, and with her are the nurturing waters. The blood and the vital essence emanated from the god. The female is the shelterer, the one who nurtures, and by whom all things are caused to acquire form and growth. Woman was fashioned after the image of the male, and the seed of life came from Io-matangaro (Io of the Hidden Face). (See Addenda V.)

The following table shows the immediate offspring of Tane:—

family tree

In another version the name Hine-rau-angiangi is given as Hine-rau-angina. With this name may be compared that of Matiti-rau-angina, apparently an expression denoting a phase of summer, or the summer sun. Tane took his firstborn daughter to wife.

In yet another version we find the following:—

family tree

Hine-turama is a name that may be rendered as "the illuminator." Hine denotes the female sex, so Hine-turama is the light-shedding maid, or daughter of the light-giver. Turama is used in the same sense in the Cook Islands dialect.

The beings named in these tables as the children of Tane are all females, and doubtless all personify something, but some have not been explained. Hine-titama is the Dawn Maid; Hine-te-uira represents lightning; Hine-kapua personifies clouds; Hine-rau-wharangi, the growth of vegetation. In Hine-rau-angiangi we note a very singular name, one which I am not quite clear about, but the expression rau angiangi (thin leaf) seems to denote the thin, nontransparent veil that hangs between life and death. Such was an explanation given me by an old native, though I have not obtained any corroboration of it. In Hine-turama we have the personification of some form of light, evidently, for four reasons: she is a daughter of Tane; she mates with Uru-te-ngangana (Uru the Glowing One), page 126who is connected with light; she produces the light-giving stars; and the word turama means "light, illuminated," also "to give light to." Hare Hongi considers that Uru-te-Ngangana represents fire, but this is not yet assured. Uru the Gleaming One goes to the underworld, to Whiro, but after a while comes back to this world and rejoins Tane; he may therefore represent the setting sun, or the sun during its nightly sojourn in the underworld, or the rising sun. Also fire is connected with the sun, as we shall see anon in the myth of Auahi-turoa.

We now come to the mating of Tane and Hine-titama, she who bounds night and day, and of whom it is said "Titama te Po, titama te Ao"—Hine the Dawn Maid. In an old song we note the following lines:—

Koia i noho ai Tane i a Hine-titama i konei
Ka titamatia te po, ka titamatia te ao.

The following ritual was recited by Tane over Hine-titama in order to cause her to conceive:—

Tenei au he awhi nuku, he awhi rangi nau, e hine, ki au
Koia takere rangi, koia takere nuku, koia takere wai
Takere wai uriuri ki te whai ao, ki te a marama
He wai nui, he wai tinana, he wai kai, he wai oti rangi
Ka rukutia, ka tuhikitia, ka tuhapainga he uriuri
Ka tipu, ka toro, ka whakaiho tangata
Toro te akaaka, toro te iho nui, te iho roa
Ka whakaupoko, ka whakaringaringa, ka whakawaewae,
Ka whakatinana mai koe
Tu takawhaki nuku, tu takawhaki rangi
E tu whaitiri i paoa
Ka puta i tua, ka puta i tawhito ngawariwari
E tu takawhaki karihi
E paoa ki roto ki te pokopoko nui nau, e Rangi … e … i.
Tapiki tu, tapiki nuku
Ki te whai ao, ki te ao marana, e hine, e!
He kauru nui, he kauru roa ki au nei, e hine, e!
Whai ake, whai ake ki te putahi na karihi
Whakahoro ki roto te pu nui, te pu matua
Tapi tapae auaha ki taha, auaha ki roto
Auaha ki te pae kura, ki te pae kapukapu
Ki te pae nau, e Puainuku, e puapua i teke
E puapua, e hanahana, e werewere, e katitohe
E kamu to hanahana ki karihi ora
Ki a karihi auaha nui, anaha puru
Heke to pia, heke to ware, heke to nguha
Ki tenei aro, e hine, e!

This effusion called upon Hine to conceive, and such recitals, termed karakia whakato tamariki, were believed to have the effect desired, the implanting of the embryo in the womb.

The child born of Tane and Hine-titama was Hine-rau-wharangi, who personifies development, growth, and expansion, not only in the vegetable world, but apparently also in the human race. Inasmuch page 127as her mother descended to the underworld and there remained, it was left for Hine-rau-wharangi to procreate man; hence her name, rau (=a leaf) wharangi (=expanded, spread abroad).

Hine-rau-wharangi was born in the Aonui moon (June) of the orongonui season. Mother and daughter were conveyed within the house Hui-te-ananui, there to dwell. When the iho (umbilical cord) of her high-born daughter fell away, the mother and child were conducted out of the house and placed on the takapau wharanui (mat used for ceremonial purposes) in the porch. The people now collected on the plaza before Hui-te-ananui, when Tupai, younger brother of Tane, who carried the sacred vessel, stood forth and took the infant in his arms, when he recited the following ritual:—
Naumai, e hine wairotoE hine ariki rangi … e
Whakaea, whakaea to uru tapuE tipu, e rea koe he whatu ioio nui
Whakaea, whakaea to uru waiora ki taiao neiHe whatu io matua
He io taketake ki taiao nei
E tipu, e rea, e hine kahurangi arikiE Hine-rau-wharangi … e.
Whakamau tai, whakamau o rongoWhakamau taketake toitu ki tahito nei

This was a chant to welcome the infant into the world of life and called upon her to develop into a high-born, high-class parent of the new race.

All the people now participated in the maioha, or ceremonial greeting and welcoming of the infant, and her mother. When this ceremony was over the ceremonial mat was taken to the bank of a certain stream of water, and there spread and arranged. Hine-titama then moved on to the mat with her child, and there sat. The officiating priest then entered the stream and stood therein, the water being up to his loins. He then took the infant Hine-rau-wharangi in his arms and performed over her the baptismal rite known as the tohi ururangi.

In the more exoteric versions of these curious myths some other aspects are noted, and certain discrepancies. In Shortland's Maori Religion and Mythology Tane mates with Hine-ahu-one, who gives birth to Tiki-tohua and Tiki-kapakapa; another name for Hine-ahuone being Hine-a-tauira. Shortland did not detect what Tiki stands for, but says that Tiki-tohua was the egg of a bird from which sprang all the birds of the air. By Hine-a-tauira Tane has Hine-titama-uri; but it is Hine-a-tauira who retires to the underworld and becomes Hine-nui-te-po—possibly the error of his informant, or perhaps the recorder got his notes mixed. Hine-titama-uri grows up and is given to Tiki as a wife, their first-born child being Tiki-te-poumua, said to be the first man, who had Tiki-te-pouroto, who had Tiki-haohao, who had Tiki-ahupapa, from whom man is page 128descended. All these names are really personified forms of the same object, and their inclusion in any line of descent is quite wrong. As to Hine-nui-te-po in the underworld, she is said to have given birth to Te Po-uriuri and Te Po-tangotango, two cosmogonic conditions already explained, and to Pare-koritawa, who mated with Tawhaki and gave birth to Uenuku and Whatitiri, personified forms of the rainbow and of thunder.

We see in the above how the Fertilizer handed over the female element to the fertilizing agent or organ (Tiki), and how the Dawn Maid gives birth to Night (Po).

In his Ancient History of the Maori, vol. 1, Mr. White gives a brief account of Tane in which Tane is said to have mated with Tohinga, which is the name of a river in the old homeland of the race. The progeny of this twain included Hine-i-te-kukura-a-Tane, Tahoraatea, Te Pakihi, and Te Parae. The first name seems to denote a female personification, and the expression kukura a Tane denotes the redness or gleaming of, or emanating from, Tane. Ukura has a similar meaning. Tahora-atea is a term applied to the ocean, and denotes a great open expanse. The word pakihi, in vernacular speech, signifies open country, and parae denotes level open country. All these names are significant when we remember that Tane was essentially a creator; he was Tane-auaha.

To continue our narrative of the superior version of the myth: It fell upon a certain night that Hine-titama inquired of Tane, "Where is my father?" And Tane replied, "Ina tonu. Ask of all the posts, rafters, and battens of Hui-te-ananui; they will disclose your father to you." Whereupon she pondered, and understood. She then revealed her feelings by saying, "O sir! Now is the matter clear to me. It is you who have served me so ill. Who shall be known as a child, who as a parent, when you hold me as a wife? As you have so acted, then the void with me shall serve as a void within Poutererangi, in the prescence of my ancestress, Papa-tuanuku. I will gaze upward at you and our offspring moving far above me."

In deep destress Hine now wailed aloud; then, as day approached, she uttered charms to cause her children to sleep soundly, and to render Tane strengthless in his pursuit of her; and then, as day came, she fled from her husband. She fled to Whiti-anaunau and on to Poutere-rangi, where was the home of Te Kuwatawata.

Te Kuwatawata inquired, "Whither are you fleeing?" Hine replied, "Let me pass to the lower region." But Te Kuwatawata said, "Return; the world of life and of human welfare is behind you, the gloom of the unknown before you. Return, O maid!" Still Hine persisted, "Pass me downward to the region of the Muriwai-hou page 129that I may grasp the spiritual welfare of my children in the ao-turoa [upper world]." And hence, we are told, the wairua, or spirit, survives death, and occasionally returns to this world. It was Hine who prevented the death or destruction of the human soul, and who still protects it.

Te Kuwatawata now consented to allow Hine to descend to Rarohenga (the underworld). Then Hine turned and looked back to this world, when she saw Tane following her, wailing as he came. Then Hine called to him, "O Tane! Return to our offspring. The region of the upper world shall be allotted by me to you; to myself the region of Po." Then Hine, by means of the magical hoa ritual, caused the tenga, or porta whakahoro kai (pomum Adami) to appear in the throat of Tane, saying, "Let that remain as a token from myself to you." Hine then turned and descended through the space between earth and underworld, even to Rarohenga.

It was then that the path of death from this world down to Te Reinga (the underworld) was opened by Hine, and hence that path of Tahekeroa (long descent) became famed as Hawaiki—meaning that that place is where people of this world are ikia (carried away, or off) to the Po-tiwha (the unknown realm of the underworld). (See Addenda VI.)

Several versions of the parting words of the ex Dawn Maid to Tane are recorded, as, "Farewell, O Tane! Remain here to bring forth progeny to the world of life, while I will ever draw them down to the Po."

So we see that Tane (the sun) pursued his daughter the Dawn Maid far away to the westward, where, at the edge of the world, she turns and commands him to retire. This he does, for his task is an endless one; he has to beget other Dawn Maids, who, one after another, retire westward and pass into Night; they descend to the Po, the shadowy unknown underworld.

Among the natives of the Chatham Islands one Rohe was said to be the sister of the sun and wife of Maui. She became mistress of the underworld, as Hine-nui-te-po was in New Zealand myth. Rohe also appears in Maori myth.

Hine-nui-te-po had the appeareance of a supernatural being; her eyes were like fire-flames, her form of great beauty. When she came forth from her house the light of her eyes was intense. When she disrobed and went to bathe, her skin was as lovely as the shimmering Summer Maid, her hair was long and beautiful. Hence a remark made to handsome women: "Ko Hine-titama koe, matawai ana te whatu i te tirohanga" ("You are like Hine-titama, a sight that causes the eyes to glisten").

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The bathing-place used by Hine was named Wai-mahuru; her house was Wharaurangi; her home was at Te Rua-tuwhenua, her plaza was Te Tatau-o-te-po.

A Ngai-Tahu (South Island) version of the myth concerning the creation of the first woman gives her name as Io-wahine. She was formed and vivified by Tane as a wife for Tiki-auaha (Tiki the creator).

The name of Miru as that of the goddess or lord of the underworld, widely known in Polynesia, is also known to the Maori, but not universally so, apparently. But little has-been collected concerning this being, and Hine-nui-te-po is the name widely known in New Zealand.

In a work entitled The Megalithic Culture of Indonesia Mr. W. J. Perry gives a survey of evidences of a sun cult in that region. He remarks that, in the Timor region, the sun-lord is supposed to fructify the earth. Also he says, "The fertilizing agent is not the sun, but the sun-lord, who fructifies not the earth, but a being who is called the Earth Mother." This distinction is too emphatic, for doubtless these so-called beings were simply personifications of sun and earth, as are Tane and Papa. The writer has a curious theory that this sun-lord is simply a tribal ancestor, which is highly improbable. Hence the remarks that "The statement that the sun is the male principle, and the earth the female principle, is difficult to understand." As a matter of fact it is a widespread belief among native races.

* These names refer to the female organ and to coition