Te timatanga o te ao Māori The creation story

This is one version of the Māori creation story that begins with Ranginui and Papatūānuku.

I te tīmatanga In the beginning

Ko te pū
Te more
Te weu
Te aka
Te rea

Ko te wao nui
Te kune
Te whē
Te kore
Te pō

Ki ngā tangata Māori
Nā Rangi rāua ko Papa
Ko tēnei te tīmatanga o te ao

In the beginning there was darkness. Te kore was full of potential and from it grew consciousness. An energy that grew and led into te pō, the time of the long night. As te pō went on, life began as the creation of two supreme atua (deities). Ranginui the sky father and Papatūānuku the earth mother.

Ranginui rāua ko Papatūānuku and the separation

Ranginui and Papatūānuku were bound together by their great love for each other. Many children were born and raised in the darkness between them. Some of the children wanted to live and grow in daylight. They debated whether to separate their parents. The separation took place and brought the children into the world of light, te ao mārama. The children of Ranginui and Papatūānuku are atua of the natural world.

Ētahi o ngā Atua Some of the Atua


Well known as the atua of winds and weather. Tāwhirimātea did not agree to separate his parents. He attacks his siblings in the form of storms, cyclones, droughts, and extreme weather. Tāwhirimātea is the parent of kōhauhau (atmosphere) and āhuarangi (climate).

Tāne Mahuta

Well known as the atua of forests, birds, and insects. Tāne gathered the sacred red clay of Kurawaka to form the first human, and breathed life into her. She is called Hineahuone. Tāne and Hineahuone had the first human, Hinetītama (the dawn maiden). All humans descend from her.


Well known as the atua of ocean, fish and some reptiles. Tangaroa was forced to flee into the sea after the separation of his parents.

Tāua ki uta, tāua ki tai - we of the land, we of the sea

This saying refers to Tangaroa and his uri - descendants both in the sea and on land.

Connection to the natural world

Ko ahau te taiao ko te taiao ko ahau - I am the environment and the environment is me

This whakataukī (proverb) is a glimpse into te ao Māori. It shows the intrinsic link between people and the environment.