Story: Māori feasts and ceremonial eating – hākari

'Te wehenga o Rangi rāua ko Papa'

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.

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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.

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How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Māori feasts and ceremonial eating – hākari - Food in Māori tradition', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 2 March 2024)

Story by Basil Keane, published 5 Sep 2013