Rangi and Papa

A creation myth or creation story describes beliefs how the world people live in was created and how people came to this world. Creation myths differ from culture to culture. They are transferred from generation to generation. Maori people are the natives of New Zealand. Their creation myth tells a story of Rangi and Papa.

Rangi and Papa
Rangi and Papa (photo by Nick Thompson)

Rangi (Ranginui) and Papa (Papatuanuku) or the Sky Father and the Earth Mother are the primal Maori parents. They are always tightly embraced. Rangi and Papa have many male children. They are doomed to live in complete darkness. So, obviously their dream is to get some light. One day a son called Tūmatauenga said that the best solution for their problem would be to kill their parents.

His brother Tāne (or Tāne-mahuta) did not agree with him. His idea was to break apart his parents. Rongo (the god of cultivated food), Tangaroa (the god of the sea) and Haumia-tiketike (the god of wild food) all tried to help him but with no success. Tāne (god of forests and birds) decided to use slightly different technique. He tried to separate his parents by laying on his back and using his very strong legs. After many attempts Rangi and Papa were finally separated. The light of the day (ao Marama) appeared.

Everyone was happy about what has happened except Tāwhirimātea (the god of storms and winds). He was so angry. He could not bear to hear the cries of his separated parents. He left and joined Rangi in the sky. There Tāwhirimātea had some children of his own. Those children were actually winds. He started a big revenge against his brothers. His army included winds, different clouds, rain, mist and fog.

After separation of Rangi and Papa there were sky and Earth. Still there was something missing. Tāne took some clay from the area called Kura-waka. He used the clay to create a woman. He put a breath of life into her. That is how the primal woman or Hine-ahu-one was born.