Maori Legend

Creation Story

The Maorí believe that the universe is represented by the supreme god Taaroa and his union with Fei-Materai, who represents the night, from which Ranginui (the sky) and Papatuanuku (the earth) were born.  In the beginning, the sky and the earth were joined in such a strong embrace that it kept their seventy children, the gods associated with the cosmos and nature, from seeing the light.  Two of them, Tane, the god of the forests, and Tangaroa, the god of the sea, determined to find the light, separated from the embrace of their parents.  This caused a such rage in their brother, Tawhiri, the god of the winds, that he caused storms and hurricanes to punish Tangaroa and Tane.  Once separated, the gods Ranginui and Papatuanuku assumed their actual positions of sky and earth.  The moon is associated with the goddess Hina (Mahina in Rapanui) and the rest of space is associated with the goddess Ateo.  Together they constitute the Aku.  The rain is the tears of Papatuanuku and fog is associated with the warmth of the body of Ranginui who wants the embrace of his companion.  Their youngest son, Ruaumoko, wasn’t yet born when all this happened.  His brothers gave him the gift of fire so that he could warm himself within the darkness in his mother’s womb.  Ruaumoko, so closely tied with his mother, felt her pain at the separation.  This filled him with anger causing him to shatter the earth, expelling currents of blazing lava.

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In the beginning, the god Tane offered to the humans three baskets containing all knowledge, the Nga Kete o Te Wananga.  Within these baskerts were the stories of creation, the instructions of magic and much other knowledge.

 

The Maori believe that all comes from the gods.  Man, earth, nature and objects made by man can contain Mana, a spiritual power.  For this reason the Maori maintain a strong spiritual bond with the earth and with some special places which have a deep cultural and spiritual meaning for them.

 

Ceremonial objects with Mana must be protected with extremely strict rules of Tapu (tabboo). Contact by ordinary people with persons or objects with Mana could cause a loss of the power.  The Moko, or lizards, have a special significance for the Maori.  These reptiles are considered to be emissaries of the god Whiro, who represents all the evil in the world and who brings misfortune to unlucky tribes.  If a god gets angry and wishes to kill a man, he will call upon the lizards to enter into the man’s body and consume his vital organs.  In other cases, the power of the lizard can be transformed into protection.  Legends tell that a school, a Whare Wananga, would someimes bury a lizard near the main supporting pillar for protection.

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