Nga Rangituhaha: By Mokeha Williams
A few years ago while attending Te Reo classes at Waikato Institute of Technology; I was a nervous expectant Te Reo student about to enter Te Kura Puaotanga or Year 2 Diploma in Te Reo Rangatira. To say I was nervous was an understatement. The reason why I was nervous was the fact the past students had handed down all the korero about the class, the tutor is a taniwha, shes going to make you work hard, youre going to go porangi cuz! And you know what, they were wrong, it was just a psyche thing past students liked to perform on expectant students.
Now these classes were about learning Te Reo, but in that, we learnt our stories, our stories that were in Te Reo. The stories that we learnt in our very first module were the stories of Te Kauwae Runga or the Teachings of things Celestial. What was awesome about this was that the korero or stories were not based on one iwi alone; the korero came from many iwi. Te Taitokerau, Tainui, Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungunu , Wanganui , Te Arawa, Taranaki and Tuhoe (this is where the tutor was from).
In all this korero we learnt about how those people believed and perceived their world, the cautionary tales of Maui, the jealousy of Whiro towards Tane, and the love of Hani-te-waewae-tapu and Puna-whakatipu-kai and Io-hana and his benevolence granting them the ability to finally come together.
But the korero that I would like to share is about Nga Rangituhaha, these are the twelve heavens, the upper most heaven being Tiketike-o-rangi or Te Toi-o-nga-rangi. This is the most sacred of all the heavens as Io-matua-te-kore resided there. You may have heard the story about Tane climbing the twelve heavens; he was tasked with acquiring the three baskets of knowledge by his eldest brother Uru-te-ngana.
Tawhirimatea as we learnt moved freely among these heavens as did the Whatukura and Mareikura, or the celestial beings that Io-te-wananga created to maintain the balance of life in the heavens and earth.
In my view, the spectrum is within the domain of these supernatural beings, the human eye is only capable of seeing one part of the electromagnetic spectrum which is the visible spectrum. There are eight spectrums in total according to Western science, according to the teachings of the Kauwae Runga there are twelve heavens, and if the spectrum descends from space to earth, then reason would dictate that the spectrums would be descending through the twelve heavens.
Then apply the indigenous thoughts and beliefs of the tangata whenua, then you have a picture that illustrates that in order for the spectrums that some are trying to commercialise, are passing through the marae atea of Io-te-wananga and passing through all the rest of the heavens through Ranginui-e-tu-iho nei to Papa-tua-nuku.
I argue that our stories, our old beliefs are a part of who we are, where we come from, these stories give evidence that our tipuna believed in these supernatural beings and deities, the key word here is belief, not evidence. Millions of people around the world attend churches, temples, mosques or even significant areas on their whenua in which to offer prayers or other forms of supplication. It is this right to be able to tell our stories of Tane climbing to heavens on his vine, or path. It is our beliefs that should be respected as we respect the beliefs of the Catholic, the Protestant and the Muslim.
The beliefs we have should not determine what is proven in science, we are the people that were born of these deities, these supernatural beings, therefore we have a whakapapa, or a lineage that descends from these heavens, which gives us every right to advocate on our ancestral bonds that tie us to these beings.
We are their proxies here on Papa-tua-nuku therefore we have kaitiaki responsibility to answer these usurpers of our natural birthright. I descend from Hine-ahu-one, who was created by the celestial beings of Nga Rangituhaha, I am the face of those that have passed and with that comes the responsibility of protecting both the heavens and earth.