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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

Origin of Snow, Etc

Origin of Snow, Etc.

The Takitimu folk tell us that snow, hail, etc., originated with Huru-te-arangi and Te Ihorangi (who represent wind and rain); these two mated and their offspring were the Snow Children and Frost Children, these were twelve in number:

Huka-puhi Huka-puwhenua
Huka-rere Huka-punehunehu
Huka-papa Huka-pawhati
Huka-taraapunga Huka-rangaranga
Huka-waitara Huka-koropuku
Huka-waitao Huka-teremoana

These names denote different forms of snow, frost and ice, the word huka means frost, snow, etc., and enters into a number of compound words; hukarere = snow; hukapapa = ice, frost; huka-a-tara and hukawaitara = hail, etc. Of the above list of the Children of Cold, Pohuhu remarked: "These are the Children of Te Ihorangi who throng the summit of Mahutonga in the realm of Paraweranui [the frigid south]. The Wind Children of Tawhirimatea sweep the semblance of these cold ones up to these lands that the cold of Pipiri [a winter star and month name] may settle on the Maruaroa [winter solstice]."

In another version the names of Huka-monehunehu, Huka-wai-puka, Huka-kurakurawhatu, Huka-haupapamoana and Huka-waipapa appear in the list of the offspring of Cold. These are said to have dwelt on the Tihi-o-manono in the tenth heaven, and their roaming ground was Hauaroa; they are spoken of as a whanau atua, a supernatural company. The name of Tihi o Manono is also applied to a mountain summit in the racial homeland, another point of contact or confusion between the homeland and the spirit world. Yet another version makes these cold ones the offspring of Huru-te-arangi and Ikaroa, of whom the latter represents the Galaxy. Another states briefly that Te Ihorangi was the sister of Tawhirimatea, and she produced hail, snow and ice. Yet another is to the effect that it was Maui who pulled out the plug of Ruamahutonga, where the cold winds, snow, etc., are confined in the south, and so Hineori (or Hineoi) page 284appeared, she who represents snow and ice, and these were the ones who overthrew and defeated Mahuika (fire) in the time of Maui.

In local folk lore we hear of Tongariro, a mountain, taking Pihanga, a commanding hill in the same district, to wife, whereupon the latter brought forth rain, wind and storms.

A perusal of these myths and folk tales of the Maori tend to show that they were either evolved in the southern hemisphere or have been so altered in certain particulars as to bear that aspect. Assuredly many of them did not originate in New Zealand.

The Maori had a number of names to denote seasons, apart from the four terms equivalent to our winter, spring, summer and autumn. The two principal changes, from warmth to cold and cold to warmth, are caused by Ruaumoko, the youngest of the primal offspring, who still dwells within, or below, the body of the Earth Mother. He it is who turns the cold uppermost, as the Maori puts it, when winter commences, and, in the fourth month of the Maori year, he turns the warmth uppermost.

The origin of hills and ranges is made quite clear by a perusal of Maori myths. When Maui hauled up his "fish", this land of New Zealand, from ocean depths, he adjured his brothers to allow it to cool and solidify ere they interfered with it. But they heeded not his injunction, and set out to cut up the great 'fish', hence, by their trampling to and fro they formed the hills and vales we now see.

The origin of horu and pukepoto (red ochre and vivianite) was the blood that flowed from the arms of Papa and Rangi when they were severed by the beings who violently assaulted and separated their parents. The gleaming appearance in the heavens known as papakura is also said to have been produced by the blood of Rangi.

In seeking the origin of evil the Maori has discovered it in the connection between Tiki and his woman born of a reflection. It is into this story that the phallic eel enters. But there are other theories to be discussed. An old and sententious saying of the Maori runs as follows: "Ko Whiro te putake o te kino o te ao" (Whiro was the cause of the evils of this world). Again, we are told that the origin of evil was the strife that occurred among the offspring of the primal parents. When Tane sought the source of knowledge in the uppermost of the twelve heavens, then Io gave him the three "baskets" of knowledge, including the knowledge of evil, such as black magic. Io-matawai, who is said to have been page 285a beneficent deity, thus sent evil into the world. When a Maori is asked to explain this aspect he does so by saying that Io knew that evil existed in the world, and knew that evil must be fought by evil. This seems to be a very weak position for a Supreme Being to take up; either Io failed to do his duty or he was by no means a supreme power. The same difficulty is encountered in the Christian cults.

I was gravely informed by the late Hamiora Pio of Te Teko that the origin of the use of abuse and insulting expressions (kanga) was the act of Rona when she execrated the moon for withholding its light. The same contributor informed me that the first act of theft was the act of Rongomai when he ascended to the heavens and purloined the kumara"children" of Whanui, in order to provide sweet potatoes for mankind, as explained in Dominion Museum Bulletin 9, p. 105, 1976 reprint.

The origin of posture dancing was the haka a Raumati (dancing of Summer), or the haka a Tanerore as it is sometimes termed. This is the quivering appearance seen on hot summer days, an atmospherical phenomenon.

The origin of the art of pukana, the wild distorting of the countenance and glaring eyes seen in posture dancing is said to be traced to the koukou or owl. The owl had been disturbed and irritated by the restless fantail, a small forest bird that is ever flitting about, and so glared wildly at the harmless creature. The folk who came hither from Hawaiki saw the glaring eyes of Koukou, and the practice became general.

Hine-te-iwaiwa is generally held to be the patroness of the art of weaving garments, an art that is traced to several sources. The Matatua folk so trace it to Hinerauamoa, wife of Tane and mother fo Hine-te-iwaiwa. A quaint remark by Pio is to the effect that the first material employed for garments was the huruhuru of Tane, by which I suppose that feathers are meant, or was it fibre or bark? (Kua kore he kakahu, kua whatu i nga huruhuru o te ratau matua, o Tane, koia nei tenei mea te mohio ki te whatu kakahu e haere i te ao nei.) In the story of Mataora we are told that the cloak brought by Mataora and Niwareka from Rarohenga, the underworld, served as a pattern for the garments made in this upper world. One Hinangaroa is sometimes mentioned as having originated the art of taniko embroidery.