Every Picture Tells A Story: Tane Mahuta’s Triumph by Jane Crisp

Tane Mahuta's Triumph

In the beginning there was no sky, no sea no earth and no Gods. There was only darkness, only Te Kore, the Nothingness. From this nothingness, the primal parents of the Maori came, Papatuanuku, the Earth mother, and Ranginui, the Sky father.

Papatuanuku and Ranginui came together,embracing in the darkness, and had 70 male children. These offspring became the Gods of the Maori. However, the children of Papatuanuku and Ranginui were locked in their parents embrace, in eternal darkness, and yearned to see some light. They eventually decided that their parents should be separated, and had a meeting to decide what should be done.

 

Finally, Tumatauenga, the God of War, said “Let us kill our parents”. However, Tane Mahuta, the God of man, forests, and all which inhabits the forests, thought that Rangi and Papa should be separated. He thought that Ranginui should go up above,to the sky, and that Papatuanuku should go below, to dwell on earth. All the children, including Tu, the God of War, agreed with Tane.

Tawhiri Matea, the God of winds and storms was the only child who did not wish for his parents to be separated. One by one the children tried to separate their parents. Rongomatane, the God and father of cultivated foods, tried without success. Haumia Tiketike, God of uncultivated food also tried. Then it was the turn of Tangaroa, the God of the sea, and Tumatauenga, the god of war, but neither Tangaroa nor Tumatauenga could separate their parents.

Lastly Tane Mahuta rose. Strong as the kauri tree, he placed his shoulders against his mother Papatuanuku and his feet against his father Ranginui, and he pushed hard,for a very long time, straining and heaving all the while. Rangi and Papa cried in pain, asking their sons” why do you wish to destroy our love?”

After a long time Tane finally managed to separate Rangi and Papa, and for the first time the children saw the light of day (ao Marama) come streaming in. In this painting a handful of Tane’s children fly nearby supporting their God’s success. Graceful Kotuku, representing ‘all things rear and beautiful’ as this sacred moment truly was, the ever welcoming Tui startled
in the excitement as light floods in where darkness once dwelled, and watchful Kaahu who acted as a messenger to the Gods in the heavens, and communicated back with Tohunga here on earth.

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