This mural, by Te Whānau-ā-Apanui artist Cliff Whiting, represents a Māori cosmology in which Rangi (sky father) and Papatūānuku (earth mother) were locked in an eternal embrace, preventing light from entering the world. Their children attempted to separate them, but only Tāne Mahuta (god of the forests) succeeded. In the mural he is upside down and, due to his central role in the separation, is the biggest figure. The atua (gods) are, from left, Tangaroa (god of the sea), Haumia (god of uncultivated foods), Rongo (god of cultivated foods), Tūmatauenga (god of war), Tāne Mahuta and Tāwhirimātea (god of the winds and weather). Tāwhirimātea opposed his brothers' plans to separate their parents and ascended into the sky to be by Ranginui, hence his distance from the others in the mural. The narrative of the battles between the brothers, some of whom represent types of food, illustrates the rituals around food and their connection to tapu (sacredness) and noa (ordinariness) in traditional Māori society.
Using this item
National Library Gallery
Mixed media by Cliff Whiting
Permission of the National Library Gallery, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.