Maori View of Their Natural World

Maori origins are traced back to the beginnings of creation -- Te Kore (total darkness). There was no life, only potential. Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother) and Ranginui (the Sky Father) were clasped together, stifling all growth. Their children, desperate for light, devised a plan whereby one of them, Tane Mahuta (Got of the Forests) would separate his parents. Binding to his mother below, he pushed upwards with his legs with all his strength and thrust his father apart from the earth.

Into the light sprang the raging winds of Tawhirimatea (God of the Winds), the swirling seas of Tangaroa (God of the Sea), and the towering forests of Tane Mahuta. Tane Mahuta fashioned the first human, Hine-ahu-one, from the clay of his mother; and so developed the spiritual home of M...ori, the home of their gods and of creation.

The M...ori name for indigenous peoples is Tangata Whenua -- the peoples of the land. The Moriori people of Rekohu (Chatham Islands) claim to have sprung from the earth (no ro whenua ake). Legends tell of waka (canoes) arriving on Rekohu and Aotearoa from ancient homelands in the Pacific Islands.

Like other indigenous peoples, M...ori have a unique relationship with their natural world. They view themselves as one with the natural world. The people, the land, the sea, the forest, and all living creatures are members of the same family. M...ori have a direct whakapapa (genealogical) connection through their ancestors.

In order for M...ori to survive and prosper from the land and sea, the reciprocity of respect and caring is central. Karakia (blessings) are spoken before cutting down a tree or taking fish from the sea. In turn, the needs of M...ori are satisfied.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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