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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

Origin of Aruhe or Fern Root

Origin of Aruhe or Fern Root

This is said to have originated with Haumia, who, in sundry cosmogonic myths, is given as a member of the primal offspring. When those offspring quarrelled then Haumia and Rongo (represents the sweet potato) retired underground in order to conceal themselves, and so escape the malice of their enemies. The young shoots of this bracken seem to be personified in one Hine-kotau-ariki, and Pukupuku is referred to as being connected with the origin of the aruhe, or fern-root.

Ka noho Rarotimu ka noho i a Rarotake
Ka puta ki waho ra ko Pukupuku-te-rangi
Nahana te aruhe i runga o tuora nui o Rangi e awhi ana,
I tokona e Tane, ka horo kei raw ki te tahataha o Rarowhana nei tu ai
Na Nuku noa i hoki mai, na Toi i whakaputa ki te ao
Na te Ataru i pokapoka, tautitia hei kaupeka mo Haumia
Ka toro te pitau ki te ao ko Hine-kotau-ariki.

Rongo-maraeroa was viewed as the origin, the ultimate origin of fruits of the earth, though many secondary origins are assigned to many of such products. Food generally is personified in one Tahu, and it is the earth mother, who, every season, provides food for her offspring in the world. (Ko Papa-tuanuku keo te homai kai ma ona makopuna i te ao i te tau, i te tau.) The origin of the art of cooking food is referred by Matatua folk to Pani-tinaku, the foster mother of the Maui brethren and sister of Tangaroa-i-te-rupetu, she who cooked the sweet potatoes provided by Rongomani.

The Maori seems to have no knowledge of when and where his ancestors acquired the practice of cannibalism, but his fertile imagination has furnished us with a number of myths and conjectures connected with such origin. Some refer it to the original homeland and provide quite a long explanation of how it was due to the desire for revenge. Others push it back to times primeval, when the sons of Heaven and Earth strove against each other, and destroyed and ate each other's offspring. Even so Tangaroa slew Tane with snare and trap, while Tane attacked page 276Tangaroa with net and line. This fratricidal strife was also the origin of war, and Rongo, Ioio-whenua and Putehue, they who strove for peace, were compelled to retire. Yet another tale is to the effect that cannibalism originated in the time of Tinirau and Kae. When Kae had eaten Tutunui then he himself was slain and eaten.