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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 1

The Offspring of Rangi and Papa

The Offspring of Rangi and Papa

The offspring of the primal parents were numerous, numbering seventy, and all were supernatural beings of the male sex; no beings of the female sex were born to the primal parents. The denizens of the twelve heavens were not born, but seem to have come into existence through the will of Io. They also are all supernatural beings, hence, like the offspring of Rangi and Papa, they are termed atua. They represent the ira atua (the supernatural phase of life), even as we of this world represent the ira tangata (human life, life as known to us mortals).

The following is a list of the names of the seventy offspring of Rangi and Papa, the Sky Parent and the Earth Mother:—
Uru-te-ngangana (origin of heavenly bodies).Tiwhanui.
Punaweko (origin and personification of land-birds).
Haepuru.Hurumanu (origin and personification of sea-birds).
Whiro-te-tipua (personifies darkness, evil, death).Kaukau.
Te Kuwatawata (guardian of entrance to spirit-world).
Tawhiri-matea (personifies winds).
Tangaroa (origin of fish; a controller (with Rona) of tides).Takaaho.
Kiwa (lord of the Ocean).Rongo-whakaata.
Te Ihorangi (personified form of rain).Timutahi.
Tu-matauenga (departmental deity of war).Uepoto.
Peketua (origin of reptiles and insects).
Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way).Rangahua (origin of stones, &c.).
Raka-maomao (personifies the south).Kekerewai.
Rongo-maraeroa (origin or personified form of kumara and of peace).Kaupeka.
Tawhiri-rangi (personifies winds).Te Akaaka-matua.
Rua-taumata.Te Mamaru.
Rongomai-waho.Tawhana.page 76
Te Arawaru (origin of shell-fish).Rongomai-whakateka (second name Whitiwhiti-karana).
Tukapua (personifies clouds).
Tongatonga (see "Tangotango," under "Sun-myths").Tuamatua (origin of rock, stones, &c.).
Uenuku-rangi (personifies lightning).
Tama-te-uira (personifies lightning).Rongomai-taha-rangi.
Tane-te-hokahoka (personifies birds).Tumata-kaka.
Te Pu-whakahara.Turamarama-a-nuku.
Parauri (connected with birds).Tumata-rauiri.
Te Ra-kura (honorific name of the sun).Rongomai-tu-waho.
Rauru-matua.Tane (the Fertilizer; personified form of the sun).
Taka-urunga.Ruaumoko, or Whakaruaumoko (origin of earth-quakes).

Another version gives Tiwhaia in place of Tawhana. The first name on the list, Uru-te-ngangana, probably represents some phase of light; ngangana bears the meaning of "ruddy" or "glowing." In one myth this being is said to have mated with one Hine-turama, and to have produced the heavenly bodies; though Te Ra-kura (the red sun) appears in the list of the offspring of the primal parents above. If uru in this name carries its common meaning of "west," then the name would denote the red or gleaming west—that is, the setting sun. This Uru-te-ngangana joined Whiro in the underworld, as a friend of Darkness and foe of Tane (Light), but afterwards came back to this world and joined Tane. At p. 68 of vol. 20 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society appear some remarks on this double name, in which it is said to represent fire. This statement can scarcely be said to have been proved; it is possible that it stands for "primal heat," from which the sun emanated. The old Maori teachers insisted on the importance of heat and moisture in connection with the origin of life, and its continuance. With regard to the name of Hine-turama, the word turama is connected with light; as a verb it means "to impart light, to give light to"; as an adjective it means "light, illuminated"; thus Hine-turama is the Light Maid, the Illuminator, a most suggestive name. She was the daughter of Tane (the sun). The expression ao turama is occasionally employed as a synonym for ao marama, meaning the world or realm of light and life—this world we live in.

In Whiro-te-tipua (or tupua), or Whiro the Demon, we have an important being, he being the personified form of darkness, evil, and death. For all time he has been the active enemy of Tane, who personifies light and life. Ever they wage war, for Whiro is ever page 77striving to destroy the descendants of Tane (man). We shall hear much of Whiro in this chronicle.

Other versions give different names to the offspring of Rangi and Papa. It would be tedious to include all these variant forms of a myth, and the above is one of the most consistent. A version published by Colonel Gudgeon gives Tama-rangi-tau-ke and Aitua as two of such offspring. The latter personifies misfortune and all ills that man is heir to, while the former is said to represent the spiritual nature of man. The same paper gives Te Makoirangi and Po-whakarere-i-waho as offspring of Rangi and Po, the latter evidently a personification. From Makoirangi have sprung all forest elves, and from Po-whaka-rere come death and forgetfulness, also Arohirohi, the personified form of quivering heat.

Tawhiri-matea and Tawhiri-rangi are personified forms of the winds of space; the former was appealed to by voyagers. Tangaroa stands as the origin and personification of all fish, and was appealed to by fishermen. Tangaroa is one of the most important of the departmental gods, and is known in many isles of Polynesia. Kiwa is the lord and guardian of the ocean, which is called the Great Ocean of Kiwa (Te Moana nui a Kiwa). He is said to have taken to wife one Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, who is the personified form of the ocean. Te Ihorangi is the personified form of rain. Tu-matauenga is another of the important departmental gods; he presides over the art of war. Tane, Tu, Tangaroa, and Rongo are known to many divisions of the Polynesian folk. Ikaroa is probably the Milky Way, that being one of its many names. Raka-maomao represents the south, while Te Potiki a Raka-maomao (The Child of Raka-maomao) is a name for the south wind.

Rongo-maraeroa represents the kumara or sweet potato, a cultivated food product highly esteemed in former times. He also represents peace. Punaweko is the origin of birds. Te Kuwatawatata is the guardian of the entrance to the spirit-world. Rangahua was the origin of various forms of stone, and Te Arawaru of shell-fish. Tongatonga is connected with the heavenly bodies, and is alluded to as the parent of Matariki (the Pleiades). Tama-te-uira represents lightning. Tane-te-hokahoka was one of the origins of birds, and Te Pu-whakahara one of the producers of trees. Parauri was the parent or origin of the tui, a bird; and Te Ra-kura is one of the names for the sun. Tuamatua represents rock and stones.

Ruaumoko is the cause of earthquakes. His second name was Whakaruaumoko. "Now, Whakaruaumoko was still suckling at the time when the forefront of the mother was turned downward, hence the child was left by his elder brother to go with his mother to the page 78muriwai hou ki Rarohenga (the descent to the spirit-world). Hence a last-born child is termed a pekepoho child (a self-extolling child), and hence we have here the origin of volcanoes and earthquakes. Consider the case of Tane and Paia, who were of the younger members of that family; they themselves were the famous members of that family; hence that saying became permanent, 'self-extolling last-born; degeneration-causing last-born.' Ruaumoko remained with Papa the Earth Mother. When Tane separated the parents, and the face of the mother was turned downward to the under-world, Ruaumoko accompanied the mother. Hence he became hostile towards us; hence earthquakes are felt; hence volcanoes erupt. These manifestations are those of Ioio-whenua, Hine-tuoi, Hine-tuaranga-ranga, Te Kuku, Te Wawau, Tawaro-nui, and others, all of which are names of volcanic phenomena."

The following is another account of Ruaumoko:—

Whakaruaumoko was one of the offspring of the Sky Parent and Earth Mother. This child was not born when the separation of the primal parents took place, hence he remained within the body of the Earth Mother. The wife of Whakaruaumoko was fetched from this world. A report had reached him that a certain woman of the upper world, Te Hinutohu, sister of Tangaroa, was a great beauty; when she laughed, her teeth gleamed white as the down of the albatross. The pursuits of that woman were singing and the chanting of high-class ritual; she was the bearer of the sacred fire of Tangaroa. Such was the report concerning Te Hinutohu that reached Whakaruaumoko, and hence he went forth to seek her. He proceeded to Paehua-kai, a ridge from which the village at Te Kapu-kaiwhara could be seen, and from where he looked down upon the home of Tahuanini. He then proceeded upward until he reached the doorway of the house of Te Kuwatawata, where he called out, "O Wata! Allow me to pass upward." Te Kuwatawata said, "The underworld has been reserved as an abode for you and your elder brethren." The reference was to Whiro-nui, Tau-te-ariki, Roiho, Taupuru, Ruakopito, Tawhao-nui, Kaupeka, Tawhiri-nuku, Tawhiri-wanawana, Mokotiti, Mokotata, and others very numerous, a vast multitude. Whakaruaumoko called out, "The upper world approaches, the lower world ascends; let me proceed." The door of the house was drawn aside, whereupon he entered and appeared in this world. He now assumed the form of an owl, and proceeded onward until he arrived at the base of the fortified village, where he halted and heard the inmates of the house dancing and singing. He also heard the name of Te Hinutohu mentioned, and a remark comparing the singing to smoothly flowing water; hence Whakaruaumoko knew that this was the page 79woman of whom he had heard. He listened to the fine voice singing, which seemed, as it were, to transport him. When the people were asleep Whakaruaumoko entered the house, where the watchman was asleep beneath the window. The name of the house was Hui-te-ananui, the same being adorned with carvings; the carved work inside this house being famous, while those on outside parts were not remarkable. The figure adorning the gable was Manu-hauturuki, the daughter of Rua-te-pupuke. The name of the village was Poutiriao, and that of the fortified place was Te Pakaroa.

Whakaruaumoko then recited a charm to cause the woman to dream, and, stretching forth his hand, touched the big toe of her foot, as he repeated his charm. (In this charm he called upon Te Hinutohu to accompany him to the underworld by the way which Mataora had traversed, though we are shown that Mataora flourished three generations after the time of Te Hinutohu. These contradictions and discrepancies are not uncommon in Maori myth and tradition.)

When Whakaruaumoko had repeated his charm he went outside and recited another to affect Matikotai, in the corner of the house, which is the place of a watchman, and so caused him to sleep soundly. Whakaruaumoko then proceeded to the entrance of the village, and saw Te Hinutohu approaching, whereupon they departed together and proceeded to his home in the underworld. The woman now awoke (recovered from the effect of the spell) and so became the wife of Whakaruaumoko.

Here we have the origin of the parangeki (spirits) who appear in this world and return again, these being the only folk who are able to descend to the underworld and return to this world. If those folk are seen in this world, then such is a token of coming trouble sent by Te Hinutohu. The only woman of this world who ever entered the underworld in the flesh was Te Hinutohu; while Mataora was the only male. (See Addenda 1 and 2).

Ruaumoko made common cause with Whiro as against mankind, and still continues active. Ever he strives to destroy man, hence he causes earthquakes and volcanic disturbances.

Now, Paia had aforetime said to Tane. "I am assailed by sympathy with regard to our young brother Ruaumoko; let us take him from the breast of our mother and care for him ourselves." But Tane said, "That we cannot do; let him remain there to warm the breast of our mother." Paia then proposed that Ruaumoko be provided with fire, and so the ahi komau was given to him. This is the fire of the underworld that occasionally appears on earth, as during volcanic eruptions. It is called the ahi tahito.