Māori mythology and Māori traditions are the two major categories into which the legends of the Māori of New Zealand may usefully be divided. The rituals and the world view of Māori society were based on an elaborate mythology, inherited from a Polynesian homeland and adapted and developed in the new setting. Few records survive of the extensive body of Māori mythology and tradition from the early years of European contact; the missionaries had the best opportunity to get the information, but failed to do so at first, in part because their knowledge of the language was imperfect. Most of the missionaries who did master the language were unsympathetic to Māori beliefs, regarding them as'puerile beliefs', or even'works of the devil'. Exceptions to this general rule were J. F. Wohlers of the South Island, Richard Taylor, who worked in the Taranaki and Wanganui River areas, William Colenso who lived at the Bay of Islands and in Hawke's Bay. "The writings of these men are among our best sources for the legends of the areas in which they worked".
In the 1840s Edward Shortland, Sir George Grey, other non-missionaries began to collect the myths and traditions. At that time many Māori were literate in their own language and the material collected was, in general, written by Māori themselves in the same style as they spoke; the new medium seems to have had minimal effect on the content of the stories. Genealogies and narratives were written out in full, just as if they were being recited or sung. Many of these early manuscripts have been published, as of 2012 scholars have access to a great body of material containing multiple versions of the great myth cycles known in the rest of Polynesia, as well as of the local traditions pertaining only to New Zealand. A great deal of the best material is found in two books, Nga Mahi a nga Tupuna, collected by Sir George Grey and translated as Polynesian Mythology; the three forms of expression prominent in Māori and Polynesian oral literature are genealogical recital and narrative prose. The reciting of genealogies was well developed in Māori oral literature, where it served several functions in the recounting of tradition.
Firstly it served to provide a kind of time scale which unified all Māori myth and history, from the distant past to the present. It linked living people to the legendary heroes. By quoting appropriate genealogical lines, a narrator emphasised his or her connection with the characters whose deeds were being described, that connection proved that the narrator had the right to speak of them. "In the cosmogonic genealogies, to be described genealogical recital is revealed as a true literary form. What appears at first sight to be a mere listing of names is in fact a cryptic account of the evolution of the universe"'. Māori poetry was always chanted. Rhyme or assonance were not devices used by the Māori; the lines are indicated by features of the music. The language of poetry tends to differ stylistically from prose. Typical features of poetic diction are the use of synonyms or contrastive opposites, the repetition of key words. "Archaic words are common, including many which have lost any specific meaning and acquired a religious mystique.
Abbreviated, sometimes cryptic utterances and the use of certain grammatical constructions not found in prose are common". Prose narrative forms the great bulk of Māori legendary material; some appears to have been sacred or esoteric, but many of the legends were well-known stories told as entertainment in the long nights of winter. "Nevertheless, they should not be regarded as fairy tales to be enjoyed only as stories. The Māui myth, for example, was important not only as entertainment but because it embodied the beliefs of the people concerning such things as the origin of fire, of death, of the land in which they lived; the ritual chants concerning firemaking, death, so on made reference to Māui and derived their power from such reference". Myths are set in the remote past and their content have to do with the supernatural, they present Māori ideas of people. The mythology accounts for natural phenomena, the weather, the stars and the moon, the fish of the sea, the birds of the forest, the forests themselves.
Much of the culturally institutioned behaviour of the people finds its sanctions in myth. "Perhaps the most distinctive feature of myth, as distinct from tradition, is its universality. Each of the major myths is known in some version not only throughout New Zealand but over much of Polynesia as well"; the Māori understanding of the development of the universe was expressed in genealogical form. These genealogies appear in many versions, in which several symbolic themes recur. "Evolution may be likened to a series of periods of darkness or voids, each numbered in sequence or qualified by some descriptive term. In some cases the periods of darkness are succeeded by periods of light. In other versions the evolution of the universe is likened to a tree, with its base, tap roots, branching roots, root hairs. Another theme likens evolution to the development of a child in the womb, as in the sequence “the seeking, the searching, the conception, the growth, the feeling, the thought, the mi
In Māori mythology, Whaitiri is a female deity, a personification of thunder, the grandmother of Tāwhaki and Karihi. Whaitiri is the granddaughter of Te Kanapu, the great-granddaughter of Te Uira, both of whom are personified forms of lightning. In Maori mythology, there is a male deity of thunder, Tāwhirimātea. Whaitiri is a fearsome figure, fond of cannibalism; when she hears of a mortal named Kaitangata, she is certain. She comes down to earth and marries him, but is disappointed to learn that he is a gentle person, nothing like his name suggests. Whaitiri kills her favourite slave, takes out her heart and liver, offers them to Kaitangata as a sign of her affection, he is horrified at the grisly offering. Kaitangata is a hard worker, he has never learned how to make hooks with a barb, so most of his fish escape. Whaitiri gives him a barbed hook, he catches a groper, which she offers to the gods. Whaitiri tires of a diet of fish, so when her husband is away fishing, she takes a net and catches two of her husband's relatives, Tupeke-ti and Tupeke-ta.
When Kaitangata returns, she asks him to perform the incantations that are used when human flesh is offered to the gods. He does not know the chants, so she tries to perform them herself, not willing to confess that she is ignorant of the correct words to use, she mumbles nonsense words, before cooking the bodies, cutting them up and gorging herself on the flesh, to the disgust of the villagers. Only the bones are left. Kaitangata uses the bones to make barbed hooks, goes fishing, he catches groper, gives them to Whaitiri. He does not tell her that he used hooks made from the bones of Tupeke-ta, she eats the fish, because the fish is infused with the tapu from the bodies of the two men, Whaitiri begins to go blind. At first she is mystified at the reason for this, but she is visited by a woman from the underworld who tells her what has happened. One day, Whaitiri overhears her husband describe her to two strangers, she is offended when she hears him say that his wife's skin is like the wind, her heart is as cold as snow.
On another occasion, she is ashamed. She explains to her husband that she is unable to wash her children because she is a sacred being from the heavens, she tells him for the first time that her name is thunder, she prepares to return to her true home in the heavens, foretells that her children will follow her one day. She departs in a cloud, leaving her children, one of whom is Hemā; this is fulfilled when Hemā's sons, set off to climb up to the sky. At the foot of the ascent they find their grandmother, now blind, who sits continually counting the tubers of sweet potato or taro that are her only food; the brothers tease her by snatching them away, one by one, upsetting her count. They reveal themselves to her and restore her sight. In return, she gives them advice about. Karihi makes the error of climbing up the aka taepa, or hanging vine, he is blown violently around by the winds of heaven, falls to his death. Tāwhaki climbs by the aka matua, or parent vine, recites the right incantations, reaches the highest of the 10 heavens.
There he learns many spells from Tama-i-waho, marries a woman named Hāpai, or as others say, Maikuku-makaka. They have a son, according to some versions of the story it is this child, named Wahieroa. Waitiri Whatitiri Whaitiri-mātakataka Waitiri Station, a large Central Otago New Zealand high country ranch. Named after the thundering waters of the Kawarau River. Waitiri Station is the major ranch of the Kawarau Gorge and runs from the Bungy Bridge to the Roaring Meg on SH6, it is run in conjunction with Eastburn Station. Waitiri Run A Grade IV at less than 11,000 cubic feet per second and Grade V over 11,000 cubic feet per second. Length 2 miles BIG water, technically simple but intimidating. Waitiri Station provides exit access. Matakerepō, linked with Whaitiri B. G. Biggs,'Maori Myths and Traditions' in A. H. McLintock, Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 3 Volumes. 1966, II:447-454. A. W. Reed, Treasury of Maori Folklore, 1963. A. Cook,'The Gibbston Story'
In Māori mythology, Tāwhaki is a semi-supernatural being associated with lightning and thunder. The genealogy of Tāwhaki varies somewhat in different accounts. In general, Tāwhaki is a grandson of Whaitiri, a cannibalistic goddess who marries the mortal Kaitangata, thinking that he shares her taste for human flesh. Disappointed at finding that this is not so, she leaves him after their sons Hemā and Punga are born and returns to heaven. Hemā is the father of Karihi. Tāwhaki grows up to leave him for dead, he is nursed back to health by his wife. In memory of this incident, their child is named Wahieroa. In some versions Tawhaki is the father of Arahuta, she was the cause of a quarrel between her parents, her mother Tangotango took her to heaven, where they were afterwards joined by Tāwhaki. Hemā, while looking for a gift for his son, trespasses into the land of the Ponaturi, who are evil beings, they capture blinding Hemā in the process. While journeying to rescue his parents, Tāwhaki meets and marries Hinepiripiri, to whom is born their son, Wahieroa.
Tāwhaki and his brother Karihi rescue their enslaved mother, who tells them that light is fatal to the Ponaturi. With the help of their mother, they trick the Ponaturi, who have returned to their house to sleep. Tāwhaki and his brother hide, after having blocked up all the chinks of the house so that no light can enter; when the Ponaturi begin to think that the night is long, Urutonga reassures them that there is still a long time until dawn comes. They set fire to the house, open the door; the Ponaturi are killed by the exposure to the sunlight. The only survivors are Kanae. Tāwhaki and his young brother set off to climb up to the sky. At the foot of the ascent they find their grandmother, now blind, who sits continually counting the tubers of sweet potato or taro that are her only food. Whaitiri is the guardian of the vines; the brothers tease her by snatching them away, one by one, upsetting her count. They reveal themselves to her and restore her sight. In return, she gives them advice about. Karihi makes the error of climbing up the aka taepa, or hanging vine.
He is blown violently around by the winds of heaven, falls to his death. Tāwhaki climbs by the aka matua, or parent vine, recites the right incantations, reaches the highest of the 10 heavens. There he learns many spells from Tama-i-waho, marries a woman named Hāpai, or as others say, Tangotango or Maikuku-makaka, they have a son, according to some versions of the story it is this child, named Wahieroa. In a country like New Zealand, each tribe has a different version of a story like Tāwhaki. To illustrate this variation in a small way, to demonstrate that there is no one correct way to tell the story of Tāwhaki, two versions from different tribal groups are presented below. In an 1850 version of Tāwhaki by Hohepa Paraone of the Arawa tribe of Rotorua (Paraone 1850:345-352, White 1887:115-119, 100-105, Tāwhaki is a mortal man, visited each night by Hāpai, a woman from the heavens; when Hāpai becomes pregnant, she tells Tāwhaki. After their daughter Puanga is born, Tāwhaki expresses disgust at the smell.
Offended, Hāpai takes the child, climbs onto the roof of the house, disappears into the sky. After some months, Tāwhaki decides to find Hāpai and Puanga, he sets off with his two slaves. He warns the slaves not to look at the fortress of Tongameha. One of the slaves looks, Tongameha gouges out his eyes. Tāwhaki and the remaining slave go on, meet Matakerepō, an old blind woman, guarding the vines that lead up into the heavens. Matakerepō is an ancestress of Tāwhaki's; as Matakerepō counts out her ten taro tubers, Tāwhaki removes them one by one. Matakerepō, aware that someone is deceiving her, begins to sniff the air, her stomach distends, ready to swallow the stranger, she sniffs towards the south, towards all the winds. When she sniffs towards the west she catches Tāwhaki's scent and calls out'Are you come with the wind that blows on my skin?' Tāwhaki grunts, Matakerepō says,'Oh, it is my grandson Tāwhaki.' Her stomach begins to shrink. Had he not been from the west wind, she would have swallowed him.
Matakerepō asks Tāwhaki. He replies that he is searching for his daughter. Matakerepō shows advising him to set off in the morning. Tāwhaki's slave prepares a meal. Tāwhaki rubs it on the eyes of the old woman. Matakerepō is cured of her blindness. In the morning, Tāwhaki presents his slave to Matakerepō; when he reaches the heavens, Tāwhaki disguises himself as an old slave and assists his brothers-in-law to build a canoe. Each night, the brothers-in-law return to their village, where Tāwhaki's wife and daughter are living. Pretending to be unable to keep up, Tāwhaki lets the brothers-in-law go on ahead, returns to work on the canoe, arriving at the village much later; the next morning, Tāwhaki and the brothers-in-law return.