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Last Updated:Saturday, July 24, 1999

Creation Myths of New Zealand and Australia


Maori:
At the creation, the Earth goddess, Papa, and her husband Rangi, the sky god, were so much in love that they hugged each other and would not let go. This meant that the earth and the sky were always joined solidly together, and no light could come into the world. Papa gave birth to several children, but they were stuck between their parents and could not escape. Finally the children decided that they had to get out. One of them, Tane, suggested that they force their parents apart. All of the children agreed that this was a good idea. One by one they tried, without success to push their parents apart. Finally Tane had a try. He folded himself up very small and slipped between his parents. With his feet against Rangi and his shoulders against Papa, he pushed. He pushed for hours, he pushed for days, he pushed for weeks, he pushed for years and years. And very, very slowly Tane managed to uncurl his body, straighten himself, and finally push his parents apart. Light came into the world, and for the first time since the world was created, plants started to grow. But Rangi and Papa were so sad to be apart that they cried and cried. Rangi's tears ran into rivers. They became a sea. They even threatened to flood the whole world. Something had to be done. One of the children turned Papa over so that Rangi could not see her face. Now he doesn't cry so much. But you can still see his tears every morning; they are the dewdrops on the grass. And the mists that rise from the ground are Papa's sighs.

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