Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

Wind Myths

Wind Myths

A number of these have already been disposed of under other headings. In our account of the primal myths of the Maori it was shown that the four supports that were employed by Tane to support the sky are explained by our Maori friends as being the four winds. Also they tell us that we owe our welfare and life itself to those winds, for without them there would be no air for us to breathe.

Tawhirimatea is viewed as the principal being connected with the winds, he took to wife Paraweranui and begat a host of Wind Children, the names of whom usually commence with Apu or Titi. Collectively they are known as the Aputahi-rangi and the Aputahi-a-Paoa. The personified forms of the four winds are—North, Hurunuku-atea and sometimes Tahu-makaka-rangi; South, Paraweranui; East, Tahumawake-nui and sometimes Tahu-rawhiti-roa; West, Tahu-makaka-nui. The ordinary names of the four winds differ to some extent in different districts, at Wairarapa they are marangai, tonga, waho and mauru. In some districts only marangai denotes the north and the north wind. These personified forms are those known to the Kahungunu tribe, but those folk usually make Huru-te-arangi the more immediate forebear of the Wind Children and origin of winds. The list of the names beginning with Titi has already been given, and the following are the Apu names of the wind folk.

Apu-matangi-nui Apu-matakaha
Apu-matangi-roa Apu-titihauata
Apu-hauparoa Apu-titi-ata-a-toa
Apu-tu-te-heihei Apu-mataura
Apu-tu-te-wanawana Apu-puhirere
Apu-kokohura Apu-kauri-nui
Apo-koko-te-arangi Apu-hau-mapu
Apu-parauriuri Apu-kokotea
Apu-rarohau Apu-pokairangi
Apu-koroirangi Apu-ahu-angi
Apu-kokouri Apu-ahuruku Apu-pakaurangi
page 412

These are the Wind Children who assisted Tane to the heavens, and defended him from the attacks of the hordes of Whiro.

We have another being connected with wind to discuss, one that has already been mentioned, and that is Rakamaomao, who was one of the primal offspring, and so a brother of Tawhirimatea. He is, or was, connected with tapu birds. The south wind is known as "the child of Rakamaomao" (te-potiki a Rakamaomao); and another old saying is " te haere a Rakamaomao", which denotes a haere matangaro, any errand that one does not wish to explain is so described. At Mangaia Rakamaomao was head of the wind department; and far to the eastward, at Mangareva, Raka is said to have given birth to the four winds. In Hawaii La'amaomao was viewed as the origin of winds, though at Samoa La'amaomao is the rainbow.

Tini o Matangi-nui and Tini o Mataruwai are said to be names denoting the winds of Mahora-nui-atea, the vast ocean spaces.

In former times the Maori believed that his tohunga held the power to raise and lay winds. Voyagers would call upon certain winds to help them, and we have some interesting data concerning this belief, as given by natives. (In this connection see pp. 188-189 of vol. 23 Journal of the Polynesian Society.) When Manaia was chasing Nuku across Cook Straits some seven hundred years ago, he said to his paddlers: "Be strenuous at your paddling to Mana and I will raise the [favourable] winds of Mahutonga, Paraweranui and Tonga-huruhuru." Te Puaroa-a-tairi, Te-Whakarara-o-te-rangi, Huri-moana and Auruwhenua were names of other winds that were raised by magicians; yet others were Urukaraerae and the Hau-o-Rongomai. Charms were employed in both wind raising and wind laying ceremonial; and in one wind-laying performance the expert stood in water as he repeated the charm, and also passed a dead ember under his thigh with his left hand.

The Maori had retained the far spread myth concerning the wind calabash, that is of the winds being confined in a calabash from which any particular wind might be released by a tohunga. This was a symbolic act, holes in the sides of the calabash were plugged we are told, and these holes represented different winds; in order to raise any particular wind the operator withdrew that particular plug and released the wind. This course may have been followed in northern isles, but I am fairly certain that it was not followed by the Maori, and that when a Maori narrator states that "ka unuhia te puru o Mahutonga"—the plug of Mahutonga was page 413withdrawn, he means that it was effected merely by the recital of a charm, no plug was actually withdrawn, and no wind calabash existed. In the Cook and Hawaiian groups the natives seem to have been more practical in this matter. (See p. 321 of Gill's Myths and Songs from the South Pacific.)

In one version of the story of Takitimu we are told that certain warlocks recited charms in order to "withdraw the plug of Mahutonga", so that the south wind might baffle the foremost voyagers. The experts of the leading vessels then, by similar means, raised rough seas behind them, caused great billows to roll across the ocean area known as the Tua-hiwi-a-moko. This was a taupa, a scheme to stay the progress of Takitimu, but that renowned craft carried men of marvellous powers, men who stepped forward and hewed a passage through the surging waves with stone adzes of great mana, another symbolic act. So a passage was cleared for Takitimu, and she sailed down toward the realm of Mahutonga until she lifted the rugged coastline of Aotearoa.

We now know what was meant when an expert gave the word—"Me unu i te puru o Mahutonga kia puta ai a Paraweranui ki waho" (Pull out the plug of Mahutonga that the south wind may come forth). In like manner the puru o Tahu-makaka-nui, the west, might be withdrawn, or that of Tahu-mawake-nui, the east, or that of the north, Hurunuku-atea.

The concept of the wind cave is also Maori, and we are told that Maui succeeded in confining the winds in a cave, the mouth of which was blocked with stones to prevent them escaping. The west wind was the only one that eluded all Maui's efforts to catch it, and so many times Mau the wind seeker rode forth on the north and south winds in search of the mauru that abides in the realm of Tahu-makaka-nui. At certain times the blockading stones were removed from the cave mouth and the Wind Children were allowed to come forth and roam the great sea plains of Mahora-nui-atea, to frolic on the rolling plaza of Hinemoana, the Ocean Maid, to chase the Whanau kapua, the Cloud Children, to harass them and drive them far away beyond the hanging sky.