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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

Rocks and Stones

Rocks and Stones

Rakahore Personified form of rock.
Tuamatua Most forms of stone originated with Tuamatua, his offspring were the forebears of stones.
Rangahua Represents stones generally apparently.
Tuahoanga Represent all forms of sandstone.
Hine-tuahoanga Represent all forms of sandstone.
Hine-one Personified form of sand.
Hine-kirikiri Personified form of gravel. The form Hine-mata-kirikiri seems to have been also used.
Hine-tuakirikiri Personified form of gravel. The form Hine-mata-kirikiri seems to have been also used.
Hine-taiura Represents some rare form of stone.
Whatuaho Represents obsidian and greywacke.
Hine-uku Seems to represent the compact form of clay termed uku.

In addition to these the ordinary names of stones are employed as proper names in origin myths, etc., as Waiapu, Paretao, Huka-a-tai and Whatu-tongarerewa.


The general, comprehensive personified form of greenstone. Also Poutini seems to be referred to occasionally as the origin of greenstone, though in one recital greenstone is said to have originated with one Hine-tuapapa. This latter name we would naturally suppose to pertain to the personified form of rock.

Hine-aotea Personified form of the kind of greenstone termed aotea.
Hine-auhunga Personified form of the kind of greenstone termed auhunga.
Hine-tangiwai Personified form of the kind of greenstone termed tangiwai.
Hine-kahurangi Personified form of the kind of greenstone termed kahurangi.
Hine-kawakawa Personified form of the kind of greenstone termed kawakawa.
Kahotea Personified form of the kind of greenstone termed kahotea.
page 325

Here we have no less than five female personified forms of different kinds of greenstone. The method employed as evolving such personifications is charmingly simple, all that was necessary was to apply the prefix hine to the ordinary name of the stone, and so the aotea stone became Maid Aotea or the Aotea Maid. In like manner one = sand became Hone-one, the Sand Maid, and maunga = mountain gives us Hine-maunga, the Mountain Maid.

Tauira-karapa Personifies certain kinds of greenstone.
Whatu-tongarerewa Personifies some form of stone. This is another female, who is spoken of as a "sister" of the greenstone and of the Sandstone Maid, Hine-tuahoanga.
Whatukura Represents some form of stone, included in one recital among the greenstone names. Poutini, Kahotea, Whatukura and others were expelled from Hawaiki by Tutunui and others.

In the last four of the names of these stone folk given we do not meet with the prefixed Hine, but the ordinary names are employed as proper names in folk tales, etc., and even in ordinary narrative and conversation. "Poutini proceeded to the South Island, and examined it, the sweet sense of safety and welfare came to him, hence he remarked: "We will abide here." Hence the Greenstone Folk settled at Arahura." Poutini was one of the offspring of Tangaroa, hence possibly the myth concerning greenstone being an ika (fish). At the same time any prized acquisition may be termed ika, and the expression ika a Ngahue, applied to greenstone, probably meant originally the inestimable prize acquired by Ngahue when he obtained the highly prized nephrite at Arahura.

"Na Hine-tuapapa te pounamu." This pronouncement seems to denote that Greenstone originated with this personage, whoever she may have been. The word tuapapa is often employed to denote rock, a mass or deposit of the same living rock, as opposed to isolated boulders, stones, etc. Possibly Hine-tuapapa represents the reefs of greenstone from which were derived the float pieces founded by the Maori in stream beds.

Tauira-karapa is alluded to as one of the leaders of the Greenstone Folk in their migration hither from Hawaiki. Tuiiui is said to have captured Tauira-karapa without any difficulty, presumably he picked up a piece of this stone in the river bed. Taiurakarapa, Papakura, and Whatu-aho are spoken of as brothers of Tuamatua, their sisters being Tuahoanga and Hine-tauira. The toroapunga kind of greenstone is unknown to the page 326writer. Sandstone and greenstone are said to be enemies. This is explained by the fact that sandstone is the agent employed by man in lacerating and mutilating greenstone, that is in working it. Kahotea represents a light coloured kind of greenstone known by that name; it is said to have been compared to the flowering stalk or reed of the toetoe (Arundo conspicua), termed kaho and kakaho.

The peculiar markings in the tangiwai greenstone are the tears of Hine-ahu, wife of Tama-ahua, who wept over it when she discovered it at Arahura. The kahurangi stone was so named to record her social status, while the kawakawa greenstone commemorates her use of the leaves of the kawakawa tree to form a chaplet for herself.

One finds many references to personification in song and story, the following is an old saying: "He ope na Hine-tuakirikiri e kore e taea te tatau" a company of the Gravel Maid cannot be numbered, which tells us how hopeless is the task of numbering the sands and gravels of the sea shore. Another such is "Na wai taipu a Hine-tuakirikiri a taea te whakangaueue." Here taipu denotes a beach deposit of shingle and sand that withstands even the ceaseless attacks of Hine-moana the Ocaean Maid, never yet have the pounding rollers of the tai-maranga caused it to budge, hence this saying is applied to a strong, numerous, armed force. An old sage has told us that stones, gravel, and their "younger relatives" hold fast the bounds of sea and land, hence the limits of Hine-moana budge not. (Na te mata kirikiri raua ko tepohatu, me o rauataina, i pupuri i te rohe o te moana, o te tuawhenua, koia i kate ai e neke nga tuaropaki o Hine-moana.)

Of Rangahua we hear but little, he appears as a descendant of Tane in the following table:

family tree

Hine-tuahoanga appears as the mother of the hero Rata, and as rata = sharp in vernacular speech the relationship appears to be appropriate, for as her name denotes, Hine-tu-a-hoanga the page 327Sandstone Maid served as a grinding stone. Tuamatua was one of three beings appointed to regulate matters pertaining to the offspring of Rakahore, Hine-moana and Para-whenuamea, i.e., shellfish, seaweed, etc.

We have now seen how stones were spoken of as persons by the Maori folk, and also how persons were transformed into stone by means of magic powers in days of yore. The facility with which such marvellous transformations were effected in olden days, the inter-relationship of animate and inanimate objects, charms the imagination of modern man.