Story: Māori creation traditions

The god Tāne

The god Tāne

This carved representation of the god Tāne is inside Te Tumu Herenga Waka, the meeting house at Victoria University of Wellington. Many deeds were attributed to Tāne, including the separation of earth and sky. The following Ngāti Porou version of that story was recorded by Mohi Ruatapu:

Ko Tāne-nui-a-rangi, nāna i toko te rangi kia rewa ki runga. He mea kōrero e ia ki tōna pāpā, ‘E koro ē, me wehe koe ki runga, kia mārama ai te tiro iho i a mātou’. Whakaāe ana ia; ka mea tō rātou pāpā, ‘Me pare aku waewae ki runga, ko taku māhuna ki raro’. Ka mea ia, ‘Ki te wehea pea au ki runga, e kore e mārama i a au’. Ka mea a Tāne ki a ia, ‘Māku e hoatu he tohu ki a koe’. Kātahi ka tokona e rātou … Ehara, kua wehe tō rātou pāpā ki runga. Ka mea ōna tuākana ki a Tāne, ‘Hua noa, ī, e wehea ai tō tātou pāpā, e mārama tātou te tiro ake ki a ia’. Kātahi ka mau a Tāne ki te rahu – ko te rahu nei ko Te Ika-o-te-rangi; ngā kai o roto, ko ngā whetū. Ka makaia ki te rangi, ka makaia anō ko te rā, ko te marama. Kātahi ka mārama; kātahi anō rātou ka kite i ō rātou āhua, i te āhua hoki o ō rātou mātua.

It was Tāne-nui-a-Rangi who propped up the sky so it floated above. What he did was speak to his father: ‘Old man, you must be separated up above, so there will be light when you look down upon us’. … Then he said, ‘Perhaps, when I am separated up above, I will not make light’. Tāne told him, ‘I will give you signs’. So then he was propped up by them … Behold, their father was separated up above! Then his elder brothers said to Tāne, ‘Oh, we thought that when our father was separated, we would be able to look up and see him clearly.’ So then Tāne took a basket – this basket was The Fish-of-the-Sky, and the stars were the food inside it. He threw it to the sky, and as well he threw the sun and the moon. So then there was light. Then at last they saw what they looked like, and what their parents were like as well.

Using this item

Te Tumu Herenga Waka Marae, Victoria University of Wellington

All rights to images of this marae are held by Te Tumu Herenga Waka Marae, Victoria University of Wellington

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How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'Māori creation traditions - Different creation traditions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/2434/the-god-tane (accessed 27 March 2019)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005