In the beginning,
there was only Te Kore,
the great void
and emptiness of space.
Ranginui and Papatuanuku
The creation myth starts with the sequential recital of the various names for the first state of existence. In the beginning, there was only Te Kore, the great void and emptiness of space. The different qualities of Te Kore were described by a series of adjectives. Thus, Te Kore became Te Kore te whiwhia (the void in which nothing could be obtained), Te Kore te rawea (the void in which nothing could be felt), Te Kore i ai (the void with nothing in union) and Te Kore te wiwia (the space without boundaries). The number of descriptive names for Te Kore varied from tribe to tribe. Whatever the number and gradations of Te Kore, they signified the aeons of time during which the primeval matter of the Universe came together and generated earth and sky.
Te Po, the second state of existence, also had qualifying adjectives and gradations. Beginning with Te Po, the recital proceeded to Te Po Nui (the great night) and Te Po roa (the long night), Te Po te kitea (the night in which nothing could be seen), Te Po uriuri (the dark night), Te Po kerekere (the intense night ) and Te Po tangotango (the intensely dark night), to the tenth, the hundredth and the thousandth night. As in Te Kore, these periods of Te Po correspond to aeons of time when the earth came into being. Te Kore and Te Po also symbolize the emptiness and the darkness of the mind. Because there was no light, there was no knowledge. The reason for this state of affairs was the self-generation during Te Kore of the primeval pair Ranginui and Papatuanuku. They were the first cause preventing light from entering the world because of their close marital embrace. The procreative powers of Rangi and Papa brought into being their sons Tanemahuta, Tangaroa Tawhirimatea, Tumatauenga, Haumiatiketike, and Rongomatane. The sons, living in a world of darkness between the bodies of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, plotted against their parents to let light into the world. They concluded that their plight of living in a world of darkness and ignorance could be alleviated only by separating their parents, so that Ranginui would become the sky father above them and Papatuanuku would remain with them as their earth mother.
The task of separating earth and sky was accomplished by Tanemahuta, who prised them apart with his shoulders to the ground and his legs thrusting upwards. Thereafter, one of his names became Tane-te-toko-o-terangi, Tane the prop of the heavens. The verity of his name is evident in the great forests of Tane, where the mighty trunks of the totara and kauri trees can be seen soaring upwards to the green canopy overhead and the sky above it .
From “Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou” by Dr Ranganui Walker.
People were conceived to be
not above nature:
but an integral part of it.