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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

Origin of Lizards

Origin of Lizards

Lizards are alluded to as the offspring of Punga, who is also connected with insects. But Peketua originated the tuatara lizard, it came from the onaga or clay receptacle that he made in the form of an egg, and which he was commanded by Tane to vivify. Rakaiora personifies the common green lizard, while Tu-te-wehiwehi and Tu-te-wanawana are also apparently personifica-tion terms that describe the repulsive and fear-inspiring aspect of lizards. These two beings were children of Punga and grandchildren of Tangaroa, the latter is said in one version to have been the parent of Ikatere, Moko-hikuwaru, and the reptiles called tuatara, kaweau, moko-papa, etc. Ikatere is connected with fish, and is given as the offspring of Punga in one version. Moko-hiku-waru (eight-tailed lizard) is one of the so-called "lizard gods" and is said to dwell with Mini in the underworld, and Tutangatakino is another such. The lizard was a common form of aria (form of incarnation) of Maori atua of the third and fourth classes.

In an old recital of Maori myths we find the remark: the tuatara (lizard), the nohu (a spring sea fish), the ikatere are children of Tangaroa. Another remark was to the effect that the smaller ngarara sprang from Toro-i-waho, but there is nothing to show whether the speaker meant lizards or insects in this case. Yet another remark was "Ko nga uri o Tu-te-ahuru ko nga tu moko page 271peke katoa o te wai, o uta ranei" (The offspring of Tu-te-ahuru are all the reptiles of the waters and of land). A Ngati-Awa note tells us that Tu-te-wehiwehi and Tu-te-wanawana were the "ancestors" of the lizard tribe. There are further notes in myths concerning lizards.

The origin of the rat is assigned to one Hine-mataiti, a younger sister of Pani.