"The mythological origins of Maori society are laid out in three major myth cycles, beginning with the creation myth of Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother. The second sequence of myths deals with the adventures of the demi-god Maui, who fished up the land and brought many benefits into the world for humankind. The third series of myths deals with the life of Tawhaki, the model of an aristocratic and heroic figure. .... The central characters in the myths are gods, their progeny and their human descendants. The stories are narrated in prose form, with the notion of an evolutionary sequence conveyed by the storyteller linking the main characters through the traditional method of genealogical recital. Inherent in the genealogy of earth and sky, the gods and their human descendants is the notion of evolution and progression."
- Walker, Ranginui, Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou:
Struggle Without End, Penguin, Auckland, 1990.
The three states of this evolution or progression of creation are:-Te Kore; energy, potential, the void, nothingness. Te Po; form, the dark, the night. Te Ao-marama; emergence, light and reality, dwelling place of humans.
And so to the whakapapa of creation:-Ko Te Kore (the void, energy, nothingness, potential) Te Kore-te-whiwhia (the void in which nothing is possessed) Te Kore-te-rawea (the void in which nothing is felt) Te Kore-i-ai (the void with nothing in union) Te Kore-te-wiwia (the space without boundaries)Na Te Kore Te Po (from the void the night) Te Po-nui (the great night) Te Po-roa (the long night) Te Po-uriuri (the deep night) Te Po-kerekere (the intense night) Te Po-tiwhatiwha (the dark night) Te Po-te-kitea (the night in which nothing is seen) Te Po-tangotango (the intensely dark night) Te Po-whawha (the night of feeling) Te Po-namunamu-ki-taiao (the night of seeking the passage to the world) Te Po-tahuri-atu (the night of restless turning) Te Po-tahuri-mai-ki-taiao (the night of turning towards the revealed world)
Ki te Whai-ao (to the glimmer of dawn)
Ki te Ao-marama (to the bright light of day)
Tihei mauri-ora (there is life)
The Earth and the skies came into being during this time, through the self generation of Ranginui, sky father, and Papatuanuku, earth mother.
Ko Ranginui ka moe ia a Papatuanuku ka puta ki waho ko: (Ranginui and Papatuanuku gave birth to)
Ranginui and Papatuanuku prevented light from reaching the world because of their close embrace, and their offspring lived in a world of darkness and ignorance between the bodies of their parents. And they plotted against their parents in order to let light into the world.
It is said that some of the sons decided that their situation could be remedied only if they separated their parents, so that Ranginui would be pushed up to become the sky and Papatuanuku remain as their Earth. They set about their task. Tane it was who finally rendered them apart by resting his shoulders upon Papatuanuku and thrusting his legs upwards and pushing Ranginui to the sky. By this deed Tane, of many names, came also to be known as Tane-te-toko-o-te-rangi (Tane the prop of the heavens).
"The verity of this name is evident in the great forests of Tane, where the mighty trunks of totara and kauri trees can be seen soaring upwards to the green canopy overhead and the sky above it."
- 1990, Walker.
By this separation of Rangi and Papa the world of light, of existence, the third state of creation, came into being.
The sons of Rangi and Papa were by no means unanimous in the decision to separate their parents so a war of the gods followed the separation, in which Tawhirimatea (god of winds) emerged victorious over Tane (god of forests), Tangaroa (god of seas) and others. But he was defeated by Tumatauenga (god of war) and Tumatauenga then turned to defeat his other brothers in retribution for leaving him to battle alone against Tawhirimatea.
But those are other stories.