#16 The Maori Myth of Tane The Myth of Rakuru



Tane took Hine-ti-tama to wife.
Then night and day first began;
Then was asked, “Who is the father by whom I am?”
The post of the house was asked, but its mouth did not speak;
The side of the house was asked, but its mouth did not speak (d).
Smitten with shame, she departs, and is hidden
In the house called Pou-tu-te-raki.

Whither goest thou, O Tane?
I am following our sister.
You, O Tane! return to the world to foster our offspring;
Let me go to darkness to drag our offspring down.
You take the mats of Wehi-nui-a-mamao
Called “Fish by the Land,” “Fish by the Sea,” “Cliff of the
Earth,” “Cliff of the Sky.”
You have also obtained the stars,
“In a Heap,” “Double Rim,” “Stand Erect,” “Weapon of War,”
“Eye of the King,” “The Collection of Rehua,”
To be rulers of the year;
And also the stars “Defiance to the Ashes,”
And “Cut into Pieces,” “Defy the Absconding,”
“Defy the Diminutive,” “Defy the Quiet Word,”
“The Warmth,” “The Heat,” “The Very Hot,”
Which were put to beautify Rangi,
That he might be comely;
Also the stars, “The Delight of the Dark One,”
And “The Delight of the Light One,” with
“The Branch Crossing,” and “The Fish of the Sky.”
Yes, my child.


The hosts of heaven called to Tane, and said, “O Tane! fashion the outer part of the earth: it is bubbling up.” Tane repeated his incantation, and went and formed the head, then the hands, arms, legs, and feet, and the body of a woman. There was no life in the form, and she adhered to the earth. Her name was Hine-hau-one (daughter of earth-aroma). Tane used his procreating power, and a child was born, which he called Hine-i-tauira (the model daughter). She was reared by the people to become a wife for Tane, and to him she was given. When Tane had been absent for some time she asked the people “Where is my father?” They replied, “That is your father with whom you live.” She was overwhelmed with shame, and left the settlement. She killed herself. She went down to the world of spirits by the road called Tupu-ranga-o-te-po (the expansion of darkness). Her name was altered and she was then called Hine-ti-tama (daughter of defiance). She was allowed to enter the world of darkness, where she remained, and her name was again changed, and she was there called Hine-nui-te-po (great daughter of darkness). Tane followed his wife, and on his arrival at the door of the world of darkness he found it had been shut by her. He was in the outer portion of the world of spirits when he heard the song of his wife, which she sang to him thus:—

Are you Tane, my father,
The collector at Hawa-iki, the priest of the sacred ceremony of the
Kumara crop?
My sin to Raki made you leave me
In the house Rangi-pohutu (Heaven uplifted).
I will disappear, and weep at
The door of the house Pou-tore-raki (heaven floated away).
O me!”


When she had ended her song she said to Tane, “Go you to the world and foster our offspring. Let me stay in the world of darkness to drag our offspring down.”

She was lost in darkness, but Tane lived in the light—that is, the world where death was not like the death in the world of darkness.

Tupu-ranga-te-po (growth of darkness) led Tane to see his wife, and opened the door of the world of darkness to allow Tane to follow her; but when he had seen the blackness he was afraid, and was not brave enough to follow her, and drew back.

[#16] John White, The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and TraditionsWellington, G. Didsbury, government printer, 1887-90.

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