How the sky and Earth parted

Maoris are native islanders of New Zealand. Coming in from the Pacific islands, they made New Zealand their home many years ago before the European settlers arrived in the seventeenth

Published: 06th January 2012 01:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:09 PM   |  A+A-

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Illustration: Amit Bandre

Maoris are native islanders of New Zealand. Coming in from the Pacific islands, they made New Zealand their home many years ago before the European settlers arrived in the seventeenth century. They called their new home Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud). The Maoris have a unique culture and a distinct identity. This is their version of how the world came to be.

In the beginning there was only Te Kore , the Nothingness. From this Nothingness came Rangi, the sky god, and Papa, the Earth godess. They loved each other so deeply that they were locked in a tight embrace. Refusing to let go of one another even for a moment, they were joined together so closely that there was no space for Time to slip between. Earth was in darkness because no light could pass through.

Rangi and Papa had a hundred children. There was Tangaroa, god of the sea, Tane , god of the forests, Tumatauenga, god of war, Tawhiri, god of the winds and storms, Whiro, god of darkness, and many more. But it was not a happy childhood for them. Trapped between their parents, they longed to break free. Every day they tried in vain to push their way out.

They talked about what they should do. “We can’t spend all our lives suffocating like this. I think I’ll try to separate our parents,” said Tane. Whiro, the dark god, became even darker with anger. “You...you can’t decide what to do! I’m the eldest, I’ll decide what is to be done,” he said.

“Leave them alone,” said Tawhiri. “Can’t you see they love each other and are inseparable?” He loved his parents and didn’t wish to cause them harm. With so many brothers and sisters and so many voices, he knew that they were never going to agree on anything.

“I think we should just kill our parents!”All the young gods were shocked to hear the determined voice of Tumatauenga. “Well, what you expect from him, he is the war god,” said Tangaroa as others looked on, shocked that their brother would dare suggest anything so cruel. Enough was enough, they thought, the discussion was taking dangerous tones. So it was agreed that they would allow Tane to go ahead and separate their parents. Tane got hold of four poles. He put two by their parents’ heads and the other two by their legs. He then began to push his parents apart as his siblings watched. It was no easy task. He pushed for years and years.

Finally, Rangi, the sky and Papa, the Earth became separated as we see them today, the sky above and the earth below. Rangi’s blood, which spilt when they were torn apart, coloured the sunset red while Papa’s blood became the red clay of the earth. Light came into the world at last and all the children moved to four corners and began to create the world. Tane created trees and plants and the earth became green

and beautiful.

But there was one person who was unhappy at the turn of events. It was Tawhiri, the wind god. He became very angry at what had been done. Pained by his brother’s gory deed, his anger grew and grew. After all, he didn’t want this. He tore out his own eyes and threw them to the sky where they became the first two stars. Next, he turned to his brothers and sent forth tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis and typhoons. His anger had no end.

Rangi and Papa were heartbroken at their separation. They missed each other so terribly that they cried and cried and cried. Rangi’s tears became oceans, rivers, lakes and dew on the grass. The mists that rise from the ground are Papa’s sighs of loneliness.

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