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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

Origin of Heitiki

Origin of Heitiki

The origin of the curious neck pendant known as tiki and hei-tiki has also to be sought far back in the night of time, for the first one is said to have been made for Hine-te-iwaiwa. As we have already seen, Hine was the tutelary being of women, and was appealed to in childbirth, etc., a fact that becomes interesting when we note the peculiar form of the tiki image, and remember that it was held to be a fertilising agent, a fructifying symbol. It illustrates the contracted form of the human embryo, a feature that has been favoured far and wide athwart the earth. Sitting burial of the contracted body was practised in many places. Behind this far spread practice seems to be the idea of rebirth, and this entered into certain Indian ritual wherein Neophytes were supposed to be reborn. The form of the nephrite tiki pendant of the Maori is due to some similar concept. Gudgeon and Mair gathered similar information from old Maoris as to the powers of the tiki. See also pp. 130-133 of Dominion Museum Bulletin 10, 1976 reprint.

The origin of the custom of adopting children is referred to the time when the Star Children came into being. These children were looked at askance, inasmuch as they had no bodies, heads or limbs, but only eyes, and they did nought save move round in space. Turangi, Whiri-taringa-waru and Tongatonga were requested to convey their young folk to the Strand at Aroku (One i Oroku), there to roam about beneath Maunganui. Tongatonga asked that the young star folk be handed over to her and Te Heremaro for them to foster. This was agreed to, and so those young folk, the Star Children, dwelt permanently with Tongatonga and Te Heremaro. Such was the origin of foster children.

page 290

This Tongatonga is apparently the same as Tangotango, the mother of the heavenly bodies, and who has been identified as representing the Milky Way.