Story: Ranginui – the sky

Page 2. Ranginui as knowledge and life

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Tāne ascends to the heavens

Human life and knowledge were said to originate in the realm of Ranginui, the sky father.

In one tradition, the god Tāne climbed to the citadel Te Tihi-o-Manono, in the highest of the 12 heavens, known as Te Toi-o-ngā-rangi. There he retrieved three baskets of knowledge: te kete-tuatea (basket of light), te kete-tuauri (basket of darkness) and te kete-aronui (basket of pursuit). There are several interpretations of what each basket represents. The scholar Māori Marsden has suggested that the basket of light is present knowledge, the basket of darkness things unknown, and the basket of pursuit is the knowledge humans currently seek.

Tāne, imbued with te ira atua (the godly aspect), also obtained te ira tangata (the human aspect) from the heavens before creating and implanting both aspects within Hineahuone, the first woman. She in turn gave birth to humankind, which accounts for the belief that people possess both a human and spiritual nature.

Tāne’s famous journey to the heavens is remembered in the following ritual chant:

Tēnei au te hōkai nei o taku tapuwae
Ko te hōkai nuku ko te hōkai rangi
Ko te hōkai a tō tupuna a Tānenui-a-rangi
Ka pikitia ai ki te rangi tūhāhā ki te Tihi-o-Manono
Ka rokohina atu rā ko Te Matua-kore anake
Ka tīkina mai ngā kete o te wānanga
Ko te kete-tuauri
Ko te kete-tuatea
Ko te kete-aronui
Ka tiritiria ka poupoua
Ka puta mai iho ko te ira tangata
Ki te wheiao ki te ao mārama
Tihei-mauri ora!
This is the journey of sacred footsteps
Journeyed about the earth journeyed about the heavens
The journey of the ancestral god Tānenuiarangi
Who ascended into the heavens to Te Tihi-o-Manono
Where he found the parentless source
From there he retrieved the baskets of knowledge
Te kete-tuauri
Te kete-tuatea
Te kete-aronui
These were distributed and implanted about the earth
From which came human life
Growing from dim light to full light
There was life.
How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ranginui – the sky - Ranginui as knowledge and life', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/ranginui-the-sky/page-2 (accessed 19 December 2018)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 12 Jun 2006