The creation myth that rules over Maori tradition has its origin in Polynesian societies and there are different versions of it between clans, groups and tribes. However, there is a consistent narrative throughout the different versions, which tells the story of Rangi and Papa.
Before Ranginui-the Sky Father- and Papatuanuku-the Earth Mother- existed, according to Maori tradition, there was void and darkness, called Kore. Rangi and Papa were conceived in different cycles of this dark period and eventually united. Their union produced the offspring of six gods: Tangaroa, god of fish of all kinds, Rongomatane, god of kumara and vegetables, Hauimiatiketike god of fern root, Tanemahuta god of forests, brids and instects, Tawhirimatea god of winds and storms and Tumatauenga god of human kind.
|Rangi and Papa’s embrace. Source: http://www.nzedge.com/category/video/te-reo/|
These deities lived within the dark space that Rangi and Papa’s union provided, but it was a crowded space that they shared uncomfortably, until one day a glimpse of sunlight was visible through the embrace of the Father Sky and Mother Earth. Since that moment, the gods tried to separate their parents to be able to live outside of the darkness. They all tried in vain, until Tane, after failing once, thrust his legs upwards to push his father away from Papa. Eventually, Tane succeeded and Rangi was propelled towards the sky becoming the Sky Father. Papa then became the Earth Mother.
|Source: Papa and Rangi’s embrace represented in a Pou.|
This is in very general terms how the Maori believe the world was created. And it is a beautiful story because it shows how times change and younger people-gods in this case-strive to change the reality they were born into. It is a story that shows how Maori people relate to the earth and nature. But it is also a sad story that ends in the separation of Rangi and Papa, although ultimately, both of them serve a higher purpose to the Universe. I also couldn’t stop myself from thinking about how different cultures relate to the creation of the world, I think most of the creation myhts are very similar amongst each other, do you agree?