RANGI AND PAPA
A MAURI LEGEND
In the beginning was the night.
After the night followed the light.
The light became the light-long-standing.
The light-long-standing produced the nothing.
Next came the Nothing abounding.
From the Nothing abounding came the Nothing made beautiful.
Out of the Nothing made beautiful grew the Nothing made Something.
The Nothing made Something was the origin of the Something the First.
And the Something the First was the father of water.
The water married the Strait, the Vast, the Clear, which is the firmament.
And they had two children who were Rangi, the heavens, and Papa the earth.
Rangi and Papa had six sons.
Taumatauenga was the father of men and he was very strong. He was a great warrior who knew not fear.
Haumiatikitiki was the father of every kind of food which grows by itself; wild fruits; vegetables and seeds such as are eaten by men.
Tangaroa was the father of the fishes and the reptiles, snakes and frogs and toads and the lizards whom they call Ngarara, and the Tuatara of the three eyes.
Tawniri-ma-tea was the father of the winds and storms. He makes the wind and on stormy days it is he who whistles in the air.
Rongo-matane was the father of food which grows in the fields and gardens dens and which is cultivated by man. And Tane-Mahuta is the protector and father of the forests and the birds which live and nest therein.
But Rangi and Papa, the heaven and the earth, lived so close together in those days, for it was a long, long time ago that there was no light on the earth and none could see anything at all.
And Taumatauenga and Haumiatikitiki and Tangaroa and Rongn-Matane and Tane-Mahuta grew very tired of the darkness and they said:
"What shall we do to find the light?
"Shall we kill our father Rangi?
"Shall we kill our mother Papa?
"Shall we tear them both apart?
"Darkness, darkness, light, light, the seeking, the searching, in chaos, in space;
"The multitude of thoughts and the length of time,
"We have thought a long, long time."
And Taumatauenga. who was very strong and very fierce, said to his brothers:
"Let us slay them!"
But Tane-Mahuta, the lord of the forests and the protector of all things which live in the forests and of the birds which dwell in the trees, said:
"No. Rather let us tear them apart, and let us push the sky high up above our heads away from us, and let the earth remain under our feet. Let our father, the sky, be a stranger to us, but the earth will remain close to us as our mother to nurse us, to nourish us."
And all the brothers agreed to this, except Tawhiri-ma-tea, the father of the winds and the storms, for he thought to himself:
"If Rangi, the sky, and Papa, the earth, are torn apart, then I shall die, for I shall have no kingdom where to reign, either in heaven or on earth, and I shall be homeless."
But the brothers agreed and Rongo-Matane, the father of gardens and fields and of foods which are grown by man makes the attempt. He puts his shoulders to the sky and plants his feet firmly in the earth. He heaves and strains and struggles, but he cannot push the sky away, nor rend apart his father and mother. Rangi and Papa. Then Tangaroa, the father of the fishes and the reptiles, rises up and struggles with all his might to separate the earth and sky, but he cannot move them, and it makes him very, very tired. After him Haumiatikitiki, the father of foods which grow by themselves and of the fruit trees, tries to do what his brothers Rongo-Matane and Tangaroa had failed to do. He struggles and strains with all his strength, but he cannot lift the sky from off the earth.
Next the fierce Taumatauenga, the father of men and the mighty warrior makes the attempt, but even he cannot do it, although he is very, very strong.
Then at last, slowly, slowly rises up Tane-Mahuta, the king of the forests and of the birds and the little things that fly; and he pushes, slowly, slowly, but strongly in his great might, but he cannot separate the earth and sky nor move them apart. He rests awhile from his mighty labors. Now he firmly plants his head on his mother, the earth, and puts his feet up against the sky. The veins stand out on his body like cords as he strains and struggles with his enormous strength. He pushes with all his force until his muscles are as hard as stone, and now at last Rangi and Papa are slowly torn apart and a little ray of light streams in through the opening between the sky and the earth.
The earth cries out and the sky cries out:
"We are your father and mother, and you will kill us! Why do you want to tear us apart?"
And they cry and cry, but Tane-Mahuta knows that he is not killing them and he makes no reply. I'm far, far below he presses the earth with his head, and far, far above he pushes the sky with his feet. For as he pushes he can see the light growing stronger and he can see men increasing on the earth: and he knows that in the light he will live and not die in the darkness and shadow of Rangi and Papa. And that is how darkness was separated from the light and men could know whether it was day or night and began to live and increase on the earth.
Now Tawhiri-ma-tea, the father of storms, never consented to his brothers' plan, and when Tane-Mahuta had torn Rangi and Papa apart, Tawhiri-ma-tea was angry with his brothers, nor did he wish to leave his father forever and cling to his mother Papa, the earth, as they did. So Tawhiri-ma-tea tied to the sky and talked long with his father Rangi and together they formed plans as to what he should do.
Meanwhile Tawhiri-ma-tea had many sons and they grew up; for it was a long, long time that he talked with his father Rangi. His eldest son he sent to the Westward and he is the West Wind. One he sent to the Eastward and one to the Northward and they are the East Wind and the North Wind, besides these, who are the mightiest of his sons, there were many others. Also there were many daughters.
With his sons and daughters Tawhiri-ma-tea made war on his brothers, who were on the earth. He sent fierce squalls, and whirlwinds; dense clouds and massy clouds, dark clouds, gloomy clouds and thick, fiery clouds; clouds reflecting red light, clouds drifting, drifting, across the sky: clouds bursting on the earth, clouds of thunder, and flying clouds; lightning clouds and scud. And in the midst of this mighty army Tawhiri-ma-tea himself flies and whistles and screams and howls in his wild rage. The proud trees of the forest are caught in the blast of Tawhiri's breath and are broken while yet strong and unsuspecting. They are torn to pieces by the cyclone, they are uprooted and thrown to the ground; branches are broken and boughs bruised, scattered and beaten and the mighty trees of Tane-Mahuta are laid low; Tane-Mahuta who, in his strength, had torn Rangi and Papa apart.
Tawhiri-ma-tea attacks his brother Tangaroa and conquers him also. The seas are lashed to foam by his wrath, waves as steep as mountains rise up and fall, one moment a vast unending wall, then a yawning gulf of troubled whirlpools; ah! that was a great fight. Tangaroa flies through the seas before Tawhiri's wrath. And Tangaroa's children, Ika-tere the father of fishes and Tute-wehi-wehi, the father of reptiles, consulted together.
And Tute-wehiwehi and his sons and daughters, all the little snakes and frogs and toads, said, "Let us run away to the land, and so we shall be safe from the storm." But Ika-tere and his sons and daughters the great fishes and the little fishes, said, "No, no, let us run into the sea where we can all swim deep down, and hide ourselves from the storm."
And they could not agree with one another, so Tute-wehiwehi ran with his family to hide in the earth and Ika-tere swam away into the sea, away from the storm. And there they have remained ever since, the lizards and the reptiles on the land and the fishes in the sea, until they have forgotten that they once lived together.
Tangaroa the ancestor of the reptiles and the fishes was angry that some of his children had run away and had left the sea, seeking Tane-Mahuta's protection in the forests.
And Tangaroa made war on Tane-Mahuta, so that when the sea swallows up ships and boats and the trees are washed away into the rivers and when floods take away the houses down to the sea, men say that Tangoroa is fighting with Tane because Tane took his children from him. And when men make big ships and canoes out of the forest trees; when they take the forest creepers and vines to make fishing nets; and when they go out to fish with these boats and these nets in the sea, they say that Tane is fighting against Tangaroa for the little lizards that once came from the sea. And Tane protects the lizards so that no man ever hurts them or frightens them if he can help it. (2)
So Tawhiri conquered his brothers Tane-Mahuta and Tangaroa, the forests and the sea, and he rushes on in his wrath to attack Rongo-Matane and Haumiatikitiki, the fruits of the field, and the roots which are used for food. But Papa, mother earth, caught them up and hid them in a place of safety under ground so that her other children should not lose them. And Tawhiri looked among the trees and between the rocks and in the caves, and he whistled and moaned and shrieked, but Rongo-Matane lay safe in the earth with his brother Haumiatikitiki, where their mother had hidden them; and Tawhiri could not find them, so he left them where they were, and that is why they lie so deep in the earth to this day. The roots are hiding from Tawhiri and his wrath.
Now, Tawhiri-ma-tea, the storm, with his clouds and squalls and winds had conquered all his brothers except one. That one was the mighty Taumatauenga, the father of men, the great warrior, the fierce, the strong. Tawhiri-ma-tea rushed toward his brother Taumatauenga and the battle was the fiercest of all. For Taumatauenga was the only one who was brave enough and bold enough to advise the death of Rangi and Papa, and he was as strong as Tawhiri, stronger than the storm. Tane-Mahuta was broken and torn; Tangaroa had fled to the sea; Rongo-Matane and Haumiatikitiki had hidden themselves deep in the earth. Alone and undismayed before the wrath of Tawhiri, the father of men, Taumatauenga stood firm on his mother earth and faced the storm. And the storm remembered the damage he had done to his four brothers and Rangi his father was satisfied with what had been done. And they looked at Taumatauenga and saw that he was strong. So they were pacified for a time and the storm was calmed, but the father of men remained unconquered.
Then Taumatauenga, after he had so successfully opposed his brother Tawhiri, thought how he should punish his brothers for deserting him, for they had been afraid of the storm and had not helped him. And Taumatauenga thought that his brothers had now behaved very badly to him, and that if they should grow strong again they would grow jealous of him and would fight against him and overcome him by treachery.
Even now Tane-Mahuta was growing strong once more. The forest trees were growing up again, the birds were in the branches and the forests were regaining their strength.
So Taumatauenga took the leaves of the whanake tree and twisted them into snares, which he hung up among the branches of the forest trees. And when the birds came again to their friends the trees they were caught in the nooses and the forest was no longer safe for them, but man had conquered them.
Then he thought of Tangaroa, and he cut leaves and stalks of the flax plant, and he made nets of linen cords with which he caught Tangaroa's children, the fishes. So he conquered Tangaroa as he had conquered Tane-Mahuta.
Afterwards he sought his brothers Rongo-Matane and Haumiatikitiki and he found them by their leaves, for Rongo-Matane means "sweet potato" and Haumiatikitiki means the wild fern root which men eat.
And Taumatauenga made a little hoe and plaited a basket so that with the one he dug up the roots and gathered them into the other. And when he left these roots above the ground in the sunlight they grew no longer. But he ate them for food and he ate birds and fishes also. And he took their names to himself when he had conquered his four brothers and that is why man eats these things. And these are the names he took: Tukariri, Tukanguha, Tukataua, Tuwhakaheketangata, Tumatawhaiti, and Taumatauenga. And these names mean that he conquered all his brothers in the earth.
But this youngest brother Tawhiri-ma-tea he did not conquer, so that the storm father attacks him in hurricanes and fierce gales and ever seeks to destroy him by sea and land. Thus the war goes on for ever and ever until one or the other will conquer in the end. Sometimes one is successful for a time, sometimes the other. At one time when Tawhiri-ma-tea fought against his brothers and conquered all but one he so far overcame that a great part of mother earth disappeared beneath the water which he brought on to the earth, so that only a small portion of land remains and the land is very small now compared to what it was before. How Maui-tikitiki-o-taranga recovered a portion of it from the sea we shall learn later.
And the names of those who helped Tawhiri to submerge the earth were Terrible-Rain, Long-Long-Rain, Fierce Hail, and their sons and daughters Mist and Light Dew and Heavy Dew and Fog.
From that time light increased upon the earth and heat and the sun's rays were very strong. How Maui the Baby caught the sun and made him go slowly through the sky in later times we shall learn. As the light increased on the earth the sons of Rangi and Papa grew many. The first of these were not like men in shape, only Taumatauenga and his sons and brothers, for there were many before them and man has continued in his present shape from the time of Taumatauenga and his children, Ngainua and his children and Whiro-te-tupua and his children, to this day. After them came the generation of Maui-taha and Maui-roto and Maui-pae and Maui-tikitiki-o-taranga.
Rangi has ever remained separated from Papa until now, but their love still continues — the soft, warm sighs of her bosom still ever rise up to him from the mountains and forests and valleys, and men call these mists; and the great sky as he mourns through the long night for his beloved Papa sheds tears on her face, and men, seeing these, say the dewdrops are falling on the earth.
II. THE FINDING OF TARANGA.
Every night the four Mauis used to dance in the large hall of assembly. There were Maui-taha, Maui-roto, Maui-waho, Maui-pae and all their friends and relatives, so that the hall was filled with dancers.
Before the dance began the mother of the Mauis, who was called Taranga, made her sons sit down in a row so that she could count them to see that they were all there.
But one night a beautiful little boy crept in at the door and without being noticed hid himself behind Maui-taha. So when Taranga began to count she said, "Maui-taha, that's one; Maui-roto, two; Maui-waho, three; Maui-pae, four. Hullo! here's a fifth one, and he looks like one of my sons, too. How can that be?"
Then the boy, who was little Maui, said, "Yes, I'm your son, too."
So the old woman counted over again.
"Maui-taha, one; Maui-roto, two; Maui-waho, three; Maui-pae, four. That is right. There are only four of my sons. So you cannot be my son also. I never saw your face before."
But little Maui said, "Really I am your son and you are my mother."
And Taranga grew quite angry with him.
"You are not my child, but you belong to somebody else; so go away at once and don't bother us any more. We want to dance."
Maui replied: "Well, then, I will go, since you say I am the child of some one else, but really I did think I was your little boy when I said so, because I was born by the sea, and you threw me into the sea after cutting off your hair and wrapping me in it. After that, as I floated on the water, the seaweed caught in the hair and covered me so that I was protected from the sea. Then the wind blew me in my cradle on to the sandy shore and the jelly fish came and clustered on the seaweed which surrounded me. Then the flies came and buzzed all about, and the birds came to peck at me and eat me and I was unable to move. Then an old man who was walking on the beach saw the flies and the birds flying round and he ran as far as he could. And this man was my great grandfather, Tama-nui-ke-te-Rangi.
"When he found me wrapped up in seaweed and hair and covered with jellyfish, he stripped these off and picked me up in his arms. So he took me home to his house and he hung me up in the beams of the roof so that I was lying there in the warm smoke and the heat of the fire, and I was very happy living with the old man.
"But he told me a lot of stories about the dancing in this hall of assembly and I came to see for myself what it is like.
"When I was very small, I used to hear you calling over the names of my elder brothers as you have done to-night, and to prove to you that I am speaking the truth, I can repeat their names quite easily. They are Maui-taha, Maui-roto, Maui-waho and Maui-pae, and I am little Maui the Baby."
When Taranga heard all this she cried out:
"You dear little boy, you are really my baby and I shall call you Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga, Maui that was wrapped up in Taranga's hair." So that was his name.
After the dance was over Taranga said, "Come here, little Maui, and kiss me and I will kiss you because I love you ever so much, and you shall come and sleep in my house to-night."
And his brothers were jealous. They said, "Our mother never asks us to come to her house now we are big boys, and she never kisses us or puts us to bed, as she used to do when we were little, while now she pets this little waif of the sea, who may be anybody for all we know." Then Maui-taha and Maui-roto said to Maui-waho and Maui-pae:
"Never mind. Let him be our dear brother. It is much better for us to be brotherly and friendly to others instead of being disagreeable, because these are the ways men can do good in the world and can be useful. By working hard for others, and by giving others what we can, so everyone in the world is made happier and there is peace on earth.
"If we are not careful we shall be like the children of Rangi and Papa who separated their father and mother so that Tawhiri-ma-tea fights with Tau-matauenga to this day, and even the children of Taumatauenga fight among themselves and man kills his brother man. We will not begin quarrelling amongst ourselves."
And Maui-waho and Maui-pae said, "You are right, brothers. Let us murmur no longer against our brother Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga." So they all went to sleep, because it was late at night and they were tired with dancing.
But early in the morning Taranga rose up out of bed and put on her belt and apron and, when none of her sons were looking, slipped out of the door. She disappeared so quickly that they looked for her immediately they awoke, but they could not find out where she had gone. The four elder brothers knew she had gone and they knew she would come back because she left them like this every morning but came back in the evening, so they did not trouble about her disappearance.
Little Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga was not so easily satisfied. He had only just found his mother again and did not like to lose her so soon.
"Perhaps she has gone out to get us some food," he thought. But when the day grew on and she did not come back he knew she had gone far, far away.
Still she came again in the evening and after they had all danced and sung she said, "Come, little Maui, and sleep in my house." So Maui slept in the house as he had done before. But when he woke up in the morning Taranga had gone again, and little Maui wondered where she went every morning.
One night he pretended to go to sleep, but lay awake until all the others were fast asleep and snoring. Then he quietly got out of bed and hid his mother's belt and apron; then he went round the room and covered up all the windows and stuffed clothes into the cracks and crannies of the walls and the door so that no light could come in and wake his mother before he himself awoke.
So the night passed slowly and his mother still slept. The sun rose high above the horizon, but still she slept, for no light could get into the room, because all the doors and windows had been stopped by little Maui. Then Taranga turned over in bed and she said, "Surely it is a long night! It is time for the sun to be shining in through the window," and she dropped off to sleep once more.
At last she awoke and lay there thinking, thinking, for she could sleep no longer. She jumped out of bed and began to look for her apron and her belt, but she could not find them anywhere, for Maui had hidden them. She felt round the walls, and presently her fingers felt something soft. "Ah! here is my apron," she thought, and she pulled it away. It was the old dress which had been stuffed into the window to keep the light out. So you can imagine how she cried out when she saw the sun high up in the sky.
"Oh, dear I Oh, dear! there is the sun. I shall be late." And snatching up her clothes she ran out of the house, crying to herself because she thought she had been badly treated and because she had lost her belt and apron.
Little Maui was watching and as soon as she opened the door he jumped out of bed and looked through the window where he could see his mother running in the sunlight. But she did not run very far, for she suddenly reached down to a tuft of rushes and pulled them out of the ground, showing a little hole underneath. She popped into this hole and then drew the tuft of rushes over it again after her, so that it looked as if they had been growing there all the time.
Then little Maui jumped up and ran as hard as he could go to the tuft of rushes. He pulled it up and found a beautiful cave running deep down into the earth, so he covered it up again and running back to the house woke up his brothers.
"Come along, you lazy rogues, it is daytime, and mother has run away again."
And his brothers saw the sun high up in the sky and they wondered how they had slept so long.
Then he asked his brothers another question.
"Where do you think our father and mother live?"
And they answered, "How should we know? Though we are her sons, we never saw the place and we are quite sure you will not find out what we have failed to discover.''
Rangi the Sky, must be our father, for he sends his messengers down to us; Hauwhenua, the gentle breezes to cool the earth and the tender plants; and Haumaringiringi the mists to moisten the earth, and Haumarotoroto the fine weather to make the plants grow, and Touarangi the rain to water them and Tomairangi the dew to nourish them, and he gave all these his sons to make our food grow, and then Papa-tua-nuku the earth provided seeds and so we, her children, live on this world which will grow very old, very old.
Little Maui said:
"Yes, that is right. But I think I should be the one really who would not care where she lives and who she is, while you ought to care very much, for she nursed you when you were babies, but she never nursed me, and the sea was my cradle. Yet I love her very, very much, because she is my mother, and because I love her, I want to know where she lives and who she is."
His brothers liked little Maui because he spoke so lovingly of his mother, and they told him to try and find out these things if he could.
So little Maui said:
"I think I ought not to find this very hard to do, because I have already done one task which seems harder still, yet it was an easy one to me. Remember how, when you first saw me in the dancing hall, I changed into all kinds of birds, the kiwi, the Huia, the Lakoakoa, the kakariki and many others, but you did not like any of them. But I can do more than that now?"
Because he had the belt and apron of his mother and with this magic belt he could change himself into almost any bird he liked; but he did not tell his brothers that he had the belt.
Then Maui changed himself into a beautiful little pigeon and the belt he had hidden away from Taranga made a beautiful white ring round his neck and the fastening made the black feathers on the throat, while the apron changed into the soft feathers of the breast. And his brothers clapped their hands. They said, ""Ah! now you look really beautiful, far, far more beautiful than you did before." The apron was really made of the hair from a dog's tail. So the little pigeon flew about and spread his wings so proud of himself. And he hopped about from spray to spray and called "coo, coo" to his brothers so that they were all very pleased.
After he had changed himself back to a man again little Maui said, "I am going on a long, long journey to-morrow morning, and although I am the youngest of you, you will see that I know more magic then than any of you.
"But it is possible I shall lose all my magic where I am going and perhaps become old and feeble before I have finished the long journey I am about to make."
But his brothers said:
"That might be so if you were going to make a warlike expedition, but as you are going for such a good purpose, to find the parents we all long to see, it is worth all the trouble and danger you may risk. For if you find out where they live we shall all be happy and never have any more suffering in the world, but we shall go to them and they will come to us and there will be no more sorrow at all."
Maui said, "Yes, I am doing a good work, whatever the result may be. If it is a nice place I shall be pleased, but if it is not a good place I shall have had a hard journey to no purpose. But I will go."
And they said, "Yes, go your journey, little Magician."
And Maui turned once more into a pigeon and said "coo-o-o-o-o-o" so prettily as he turned his head on one side that they could do nothing but clap their hands and say, "What a dear little bird our brother Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga has turned into!" And they were very pleased.
Then Maui flew away on his journey. He pulled up the tuft of rushes, flew down into the cave and, as his mother Taranga had done, pulled the grass down over the hole again so as to hide it. He flew very, very fast, but twice he was nearly stopped because the cave was so narrow that his wings almost touched the sides. He nearly reached the bottom of the cave when it grew narrow again and twice more he dips his wings as he flies along until the cave began to get wider and he flew straight on.
At last he saw a number of people walking along in an orchard of manapau trees, so that when they sat down on the grass under one of them he saw that among them were his father, Makea-tu-tara, and Taranga. Then the little pigeon, which was Maui, perched on the branches of one of the trees just above their heads where they could not see him without looking up. He hopped from twig to twig until he stood just over his father's face with a berry in his beak, then he dropped the berry right on his father's forehead, and his father said, "The berries are falling!" but he did not look up into the tree. The little pigeon picked some more berries and dropped them down on his father and mother as hard as he could so that he nearly hurt them.
Then they all jumped up and looked into the tree while the pigeon began to coo, so that they saw who it was that had dropped the berries, but they did not know that it was really little Maui.
And they all threw stones at the pigeon, but none could hit him until he chose to be hit, because of his magic. At last, after they had been throwing stones at him for a long time, he put his leg in the way of a stone and let it be broken, because it did not really hurt him. So he fell down to the ground fluttering his wings, and they said, "Poor little bird, his leg is broken," but suddenly the little pigeon turned into a fine, strong man who was Maui. He looked so fine and splendid and so strong that they were afraid, and they said: "No wonder we could not hit the little pigeon, if it was a man, for he is the finest man who has ever been seen since Rangi and Papa were torn apart by Tane-mahuta."
But Taranga said, "I used to know a beautiful boy who looked just like this man. I used to see him every night when I went to visit my children. I will tell you the story.
"I was wandering along the seashore with the little baby when I cut off my hair and wrapped him up in it like a cradle. Then I threw him into the foam of the sea. After that he was found by his ancestor, Tama-nui-ke-te-Rangi," and she told them all the story of little Maui the Baby.
Then Taranga asked Maui who was standing there under the tree: "Where do you come from? From the Westward?'' "No." "From the Northeast, then?" "No." "From the Southeast, then?" "No." "From the South?" "No." "Was the wind which is now blowing towards me the one brought you here?"
And when she asked this he said "Yes!"
And she said, "Oh! you are indeed my child. Are you Maui-Taha?" "No." "Are you Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga?" And again he answered "Yes." Then Taranga was very glad, and she said, "You are indeed my dear little Maui, who was nursed in the sea. And in time to come you will go to the house of Hine-nui-te-po, your great ancestor, and will conquer death itself, so that there shall be no more sorrow in the world."
Then his father took him to the water and taught him all the things that man can know, and all the secrets of the world. Nearly all, that is, because after it was all over and Maui had bathed in the water Makea-tu-tara, his father, remembered that he had left out some things which it was now too late to tell Maui. And Makea-tu-tara knew that, because he had not told Maui everything at the right time Maui would die.
So, after all these things, Maui returned to his brothers and told them that he had found their father and mother and knew where they lived.
And they were all very glad.
(To be continued.)
1. Abridged from "Polynesian Mythology," by Sir George Grey (London. 1S53), by permission of Messrs. Murray & Sons. Albemarle street, London, England. (return to text)
2. All Maories are superstitiously afraid of lizards and do anything rather than approach one. (return to text)
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