Story: Te Ao Mārama – the natural world

Page 3. The world of light and darkness

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As the sun rises each morning and sets each evening, the world follows a daily cycle of light (Te Ao) and darkness (Te Pō). Māori creation stories emphasise this movement from nothingness and darkness to the world of light – Te Ao Mārama. It is said that the world itself is created each morning with the rise of the sun.

Te Kore – a world beyond

In traditional Māori belief there is something beyond the world of everyday experience: we do not live in a closed system where what we see is all there is. This other world or dimension is known as Te Kore, the ‘void’, in most tribal traditions.

Cleve Barlow has suggested that Te Kore means chaos – a state which has always existed and which contains ‘unlimited potential for being’. 1 Māori Marsden, a Tai Tokerau elder and Anglican minister, had a similar belief. He said that Te Korekore (a variant of Te Kore) was ‘the realm between non-being and being: that is the realm of potential being.’ 2

Some believe that Te Kore is where the ultimate reality can be found. Others think that it is where Io, the Supreme Being, dwells. The idea of Te Kore is central to notions of mana (status), tapu (sacred and restricted customs) and mauri (life force).

  1. Cleve Barlow, Tikanga whakaaro: key concepts in Māori culture. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 55. › Back
  2. Māori Marsden, ‘God, man and universe: a Maori view.’ In Te ao hurihuri: aspects of Maoritanga, edited by Michael King, 118–138. Auckland: Reed, 1992. › Back
How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'Te Ao Mārama – the natural world - The world of light and darkness', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 April 2024)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 24 Sep 2007