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The Creation Myth (The story of Ranginui and Papatuanuku)

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  • National Woodskills Festival 2007 1st Whakairo Award

The New Zealand Māori creation myth was shared in broad outline with Polynesians in several other parts of the Pacific. Ranginui (Sky father) had been joined in amorous embrace to Papatuanuku (Earth mother). In this clasp there was perpetual darkness, and the nakedness of Papa was covered with vegetation that thrived in dank moisture. The sons of Rangi and Papa constantly lamented the miserable conditions in which they were forced to live. Eventually they resolved to do something about it. One son, Tu, the god of war, suggested that the parents would have to be killed to be separated. Another son Tāne, the god of the forest and later father of mankind, objected. He wanted to prise them apart and let the Sky stand above as a stranger and the Earth lie below as a nurturing Mother.

All but one of the sons agreed to this and they all took turns trying to bring about the separation. None succeeded until Tāne placed his shoulders against the Earth and his feet upon the Sky. Slowly and powerfully he straightened his body and his parents began to give way. The sinews with which they held each other tore and they cried out in pain. Tāne persisted and succeeded in fixing the Sky above and the Earth below. As soon as this was done, light, air and space came to the world.

The son Tawhiri, who had objected to the separation, was angered by the pain they had suffered and the regard with which Tāne was now held. So he followed Rangi to the realm above and there he created his own offspring: wind, rain and storms. Then to demonstrate his anger he hurled himself down from the skies as a hurricane. Eventually after attacking all his other brothers, Tawhiri returned to the Sky, from where he and his children continue to descend from time to time to plague the Earth and her occupants.

Rex Homan

Rex Homan

Māori

Te Rarawa, Ngāti Paoa, Te Ātiawa

(1940- )

Rex Homan was born 1940 in Thames, New Zealand of Māori, Irish and Scottish ancestry. He lived in Auckland in his early years before moving to the Bay of Plenty. Rex has earned international recognition as a wood sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s and began working in bronze in the 1980s. His current work is influenced by the culture of the Pacific and displays uniqueness in its diversity of form and dramatic flow of lines. Rex has exhibited in solo, group and jury shows. He has won several national awards for “National Wood Skills” and is represented in corporate and private collections worldwide.

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