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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

Origin of Shellfish, Etc

Origin of Shellfish, Etc.

In Maori the origin of shellfish is often credited to Hine-moana the personified form of the ocean, but other accounts do not mention her. Hine is placed as a granddaughter of Tane:

family tree

In one version we are told that Hine-moana produced all forms of seaweed, and these were attached to Rakahore and Tuamatua, who represent rock and stones, in order to provide shelter for the page 256other offspring of Hine-moana, i.e., shellfish, etc. So we are told of nine kinds of mussels being placed in Wharerimu and Whare-papa, that is among seaweed and rocks. The following are the different kinds of seaweed produced by Hine-moana, sister of Kawerau:

Rimu-rapa Rimu-kopuku
Rimu-tarake Rimu-puhi
Rimu-rurupu Rimu-piroriki
Rimu-rapa-a-tai Rimu-tatara
Rimu-wawatai Rimu-rehia
Rimu-hoka Rimu-raupiri
Rimu-pipiwai Rimu-kopuwai
Rimu-kawekawe Rimu-toheriki

This seaweed family ever clings to the foster parents, Rakahore and Tuamata. (Koia nei te whanau a Hine-moana i tukua e raua hei whakaruru i a ratau tamariki, ka reawea e ratau ki te taha o Rakahore raua ko Tuamatua ma raua e tiaki, ewhangai hoki. Koia e kite na koutou kaore taua whanau, a te Rimurapa ratau ona taina, e taka i o ratau matua whangai.)

The nine kinds of mussels placed among the sheltering seaweeds clinging to Rakahore and Tuamatua were:

Kuku-tarariki Kuku-whakapiri
Kuku-poniania Kuku-whangai
Kuku-mapara Kuku-ahupuke
Kuku-koiti Lulu-kaokao

The kuku-ahupuke is a species found at Tawhiti (Tahiti), while the kuku-kaokao pertains to Rarotonga. One account states that the above mussel family are the offspring of Kaukau. The offspring of Te Arawaru and Kaumaihi were the pipi or cockle family, their names are as follows:

Pipi-taiawa Mesodesma australe (Paphies australis)
Pipi-tairaki Mesodesma subtriangulatum (Paphies subtriangulata)
Pipi-tuangi Chione stutchbwyi
Pipi-peraro Tellina glabrella (probably Macoma lilliana)
page 257

One wise man tells us that Pipihura cohabited with one Hunga-terewai, one of the offspring of Hine-moana, and had the following:

Kakara Thais haustrum (Haustrum haustorium)
Ngakihi Helcioniscus
Toitoi Astroe sulcata (Cookia sulcata)
Pupu generic term for volute univalves
Tio Ostrea glomerata (Saccostrea glomerata)
O. angasai (Ostrea lutaria)
Whetiko Amphibola crenata

But these myths and fables show differences in the different districts, also probably some of our informants were at fault, being but indifferently learned in these quaint tales. For another version makes Hunga-terewai cohabit with Hine-tapiritia, a sister of Pipihura. This version assigns a family of ten to Kiwa and Hine-moana, and a list of these is given:

(1)Pipihura. Produced the many species of cockle.
(2)Te Uru-kahikahika. Produced the eel, blind eel, conger eel, lamprey and frost fish.
(3)Whare-rimu. Represents seaweed.
(4)Hine-tapiritia. Taken to wife by Hunga-terewai.
(5)Te Raengawha. Who had the small mullet, sea urchin and pukutotara (porcupine fish?).
(6)Te Kiri-pakapaka. Produced the snapper and gurnard.
(7)Whatu-maomao. Who had the groper, kingfish, moki, kahawai, mullet, maomao and tarahiki fish.
(8)Te Kohurangi.
(10)Kaiwahawera The forbear of the octopus.

The same informant tells us that crayfish come from Tahumaeroa and Kohurau.

In one version of the myth of Tawhaki we are told that, during his search for a means of ascent to the heavens, Tawhaki took to wife one Hine-murutoka, a daughter of Rakahore, who bore one Kama, (rock, stone), who was the progenitor or introducer of the crayfish. The Seven kinds of crayfish said to have originated with Tahumaero and Kohurau are as follows:

Koura-punui Koura-kotua
Koura-pawharu Koura-wai
Koura-taranga Koura-mawhitiwhiti

The three species in the right hand column became the foster-children of Parawhenuamea.

page 258

In the cosmogonic myths of the Maori we see that trees, shrubs and herbage were brought into being in order to protect and cover the body of the Earth Mother. Then insects of various kinds were introduced as denizens of the woods, groves and herbage; then crags and many kinds of shellfish were placed in the waters.