Purakau - legends
The Maori Creation myths explain how, in the beginning, the children of Rangi, the sky-god, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother, agree to separate their parents, to let in light. Although Tawhiri-matea, (god of winds and storms) refused to help, eventually, after Tangaroa (god of fish and reptiles), and Tu-matauenga (god of war and human beings) were unsuccessful, Tane-mahuta (god of forests and their inhabitants) managed to force them apart. Although bickering continued and continues between the brothers, light increased on earth, and hidden creatures, including human beings, took their place in the world, of which all aspects are clearly defined in Maori lore.
For further information on Maori mythology, visit Te Ara, the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Since Alfred Hill’s Hinemoa of 1896, New Zealand composers have drawn on aspects of Maori mythology, particularly on the Creation myths and the stories about Maui, the mischievous demi-god who brought fire and death to humankind. In recent times, Matariki (when the Pleiades rise over the horizon) is increasingly becoming a mid-winter celebration.