I asked a friend to tell me about her iwi, Ngāi Tūhoe.
“This is something that we were taught in school,” she says, “but there are other versions of it. The version we were told was that the person she had kids with was a comet. But in other versions he was a mountain. And they think of her as an actual person, even though she was the mist.”
A long time ago, when gods walked the earth as people, Hine Pukohu Rangi descended from the sky.
Hine Pukohu Rangi was the mist and the fog that wraps around our mountains. She had a sister, Hine Wai, who was the water that falls on the mountains, but she isn’t relevant to this story.
Hine Pukohu Rangi had seen Te Maunga, and when she descended from the sky, she lured him down to the earth with her.
(The place where they touched the earth is tapu land, sacred land, in New Zealand. Any person who walks on tapu land pays the price of their disrespect.)
Hine Pukohu Rangi and Te Maunga came together on earth and from their union birthed a human child, who was named Tūhoe-pōtiki. All of Tūhoe descends from them.
So we are Ngā Tamariki o te Kohu, the Children of the Mist. We were born from the union of the mist and the mountain; our land is part of us, and we are part of it.
There’s an old folksong about it:
Tāpapa ana ki ngā kōawa
Hei kākahu mō
Papa-tua-nukuHora nei te moenga
Mō te tipua nei a Te Maunga
Ki runga o Ōnini e
Ka hono ki a
Hine-pūkohu-rangiHurainga ko ngā rarauwhe
Kia puta ko Ngā Pōtiki
Ngā uri o Te Maunga
Ngā Tamariki o te Kohu
It is the Mist Maiden,
lying in the gullies
as a cloak for
Mother Earth.The bedding is laid
for our ancestor Te Maunga.
on top of Onini.
so that the Mist Maiden
can entwine herself about him.
Fold back the fern fronds
so that the Tuhoe people may emerge.
They are the descendants of The Mountain
The Children of the Mist
The person who narrated this Creation Story wished to remain anonymous. She is Māori from Taneatua, in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.
Cover image © the narrator [anon]
Image 1: Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, ‘Papatūānuku – the land – Birth from the earth – being indigenous’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/papatuanuku-the-land/page-6 (accessed 9 June 2017)
Song lyrics and translation from: http://folksong.org.nz/nga_tamariki_o_te_kohu/index.html