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The Coming of the Maori


page 433

The maori myths deal with three distinct creations, which follow in sequence: the creation of the world or cosmos as they saw it (cosmogony), of the gods they inherited and created (theogonay), and of human beings (anthropogeny). The main principles were undoubtedly carried over from the near Hawaiki of central Polynesia, but additions were made locally and probably some parts were dropped out. A number of different versions were held by different tribes, and it is evident from the recorded accounts that some of them got the order of events, particularly in the cosmogony, somewhat mixed. Some of the variations may not have been true tribal versions, due to the native informants not possessing the details of a teaching which had been abandoned long before they were born. The myths regarding the creations may be regarded as an academic study which had little or no direct bearing on the actual functioning of religion.