May 8, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

In the Beginning . . .

7 min read

By Mihiteria King (Te Rarawa and Ngati Pikiao)

As the story goes, in the beginning there was nothing. Te Kore, the unexperienced nothing so to speak.

Then came the night, Te Po, the darkness.

It was a time when the heavens lay upon the earth and there was endless darkness. Rangi and Papa, the creators of things that grow, and shift, and change were engaged in a tight embrace, so tight in fact that the only thing they could do was . . . um . . . be creative.

And did they create! Lots and lots of offspring were lying in the endless darkness that engulfed them. Still caught within the tight embrace of their creative parents, they got on with the business of Being. Not much else to do when you cant see, cant move and where there is no much else happening to motivate or inspire you.

However one day, there was a gleam of light, according to one version I read, shining up through an armpit of Papa. So imagine this. A bunch of guys nearest the armpit spot this light. Suddenly roused from slumber, a thought is conceived, Te Mahara. And then aha, a breath of fresh air, Te Hau Ora (thank goodness cos it mustve been getting a bit, you know, stuffy in there with all those blokes).

They probably said something like, Well whatdya know! Something new and interesting. Lets experiment. Some movement, a heart beats, Life. A murmur blended with a sigh escaping through the lips becomes sound, like wind through the leaves. And then, it couldnt be helped, the questions came, the seeking, Te Rapunga.

It is worth pausing for a moment to consider what your initial response would be to this sudden change. Would you be excited? Scared? Cautious? Would you panic or embrace it with open arms? Maybe even get angry? Would you act impulsively, jumping in without a thought? Or would you sit back and watch, waiting to see what others do first, before committing yourself to action?

I suspect this is exactly the conundrum that faced the offspring of Papa and Rangi. Whats a guy to do? Shall I stay or shall I go, da-da da-da da-da da.

Actually the options they had are strikingly familiar they are the very same ones we have today when faced with a dilemma. Not bad for a gap of a few zillion eons huh? Some things never change.

And gee wasnt it an interesting outcome. Lets recap on the juicy bits. Well the murderous intent came through. The big fella Tu was all for killing them off straight away. Luckily, our main man Tane said whoa back, slow down, lets not burn all our bridges just yet. Actually I understand he suggested ripping them apart and then keeping them apart so that we could all have light for all time, and so that we would always have our Mother to nurture us. Sounds a bit violent but I guess he had already taken into consideration that his parents were not likely to be up for change, and they were pretty tight together.

Tu, the big fella, couldnt achieve it. Gotta give him full marks for trying. Tangaroa, Rongomatante, Haumiatiketike all gave it their best effort but couldnt work out how. (Couldve consulted the wahine but there was no mention of this depth of wisdom maybe that is why the call the realms of the mind, Hinengaro . . . . )

Then, Tawhirimatea got really hoha with his siblings and wouldnt have a bar of it. To this day he still suffers from uncontrolled rage and fury and hangs out with his old man, remaining pretty much an enemy of his bros..

Only our man of the day, Tane achieved it. First he tried pushing his Dads thighs with his head, with his feet on his Mother. Nope. Then he turned, feet to his Dads body and head rested on his mothers puku. He did it – Te Wehenga, the separation. And from this came the Great Light, Te Ao Marama. BIG change alright. Into the World (space and time) of Enlightenment. Light from Te Ra, the sun, reflected also onto Marama, the moon, and nga Whetu, the stars. Whew! Not bad for a few thousand years of hard yakka! Then they got on with the business of discovering their world.

So you might now be asking, So what?

Well, let me refer back to our humble beginnings and as I do so be mindful of the similarities to the story above (although maybe not always in the same order).

If we stick to traditional methods, our parents were in a tight embrace at the time of our miraculous conception. Prior to that there was an egg and a few million sperm. But in reality there was nothing until the moment one Olympic swimmer touched the side of the egg and got on with the business of multiplying. And from that point, within te whare tangata, our mothers womb, we grew.

We could assume it was probably dark-like and we may have hummed and hiccupped, but mainly got on with the business of Being. There was movement from early on but as we got bigger things got pretty tight in that whare. More than likely we were kind of getting over it and something needed to change.

Now remember the bit of the korero before, about the violence in Tanes actions when separating his parents? I suspect this metaphor refers to how we experience the dynamics of change.

Generally, we humans are pleasure-seeking animals and avoid anything too difficult or different as much as possible. Consequently, our greatest learning comes from any external pressure and tension that pushes us into something new. (Betcha never thought of it like that huh? LOL) The point is, it really can feel like quite a violent process.

Anyway, back to the womb . . .

So lo and behold, the Universe picked up on the message that we had got way too big to stay in our mamas whare and natures process unfolded. There was tension and pressure all around and we were being forced out, into the light, Te Ao Marama. The cord that joined us to our mother was severed and for the first time ever, we were physically separate from our mother. More than likely we had our bums smacked, took our first breath (fresh air), uttered our first sound (cry, squeal, scream or similar!) then got on with the business of discovering our world.

Living didnt come with an instruction sheet, and even if it had we couldnt have read it anyway. So we had to try and sort it out from there. We had to rely on others and experiment lots (just like our atua).

Most examples of change in our life are preceded by the same sense of pressure and tension as occurs during the birthing process. Change is always about the opportunity of coming into the light!

For now, it is probably enough to just sit with the notion, that at some level everything we have experienced or have yet to experience has already happened a long time before we were half egg-half sperm.

The creation stories and other purakau Maori, are there for us to learn from. They are not kids stories, nor myths, nor legends. They are very serious signposts and guides, lessons to inform, educate and encourage us to realise and achieve our potential. They have been retained over generations for OUR benefit.

Potential is what unfolds before us every day of our lives. It is the opportunity waiting to be picked up, planted, germinated and nurtured so that something amazing can come from it.

There is a reason for having seasons. They are cycles, cycles of life. If we learn about the cycles of life around us we learn about ourselves and how to ensure we grow and produce for the future. Our purakau Maori are the substance of the seed from a Maori worldview; the stories that teach us about the cycles so that we can make meaning of the what, why, and how of things.

Every seed has the potential to grow into whatever it was destined to be. You are a seed too, and just like a pumpkin seed grows into a pumpkin, or an acorn becomes an oak tree, you have the potential to grow into who you were meant to be. Not who everyone else said you were, or said you should be, but who you decide to be.

Over the coming editions of I will introduce you my thoughts on our purakau Maori, and on many different topics to stimulate, motivate and inspire your thinking and hopefully your actions. I will include references to books or links of interest and welcome your comments or suggestions.

These articles will focus on our role in this stage of Te Wa, the space and time we live in, how we can change and grow, how we can find our place, discover who we are and who we are destined to become, how we can better understand this world we live in, how we can embrace and achieve tino rangatiratanga, as our tupuna anticipated we would.

Be the change you want to see in the world Mahatma Gandhi

For now, go well and take care,
Mihiteria King

About our Contributor

Mihiteria King, of Te Rarawa and Ngati Pikiao descent is a psychotherapist based on the North Shore in Auckland and is currently engaged professionally in private practice, as a research clinician for a University of Auckland study, and Chair of the Psychotherapists Board of Aotearoa.

Mihiterias focus in life is to motivate, educate and inspire others to transform their lives in profound and meaningful ways.

You can find out more about Mihiteria and her work from

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