Author(s): H. T. Whatahoro
Stephenson Percy Smith (1840-1922) arrived in New Zealand as a boy, and soon became fascinated by Maori culture. After retiring in 1900 from his career as a government surveyor, Smith devoted himself to the study of the Maori and co-founded the Polynesian Society, which published this two-volume study in 1913-15. The book contains the Maori text of an important body of beliefs and traditions which had been committed to writing over fifty years earlier, when the young W. H. Whatahoro had acted as scribe for a group of senior elders concerned to preserve this ancient and sacred knowledge. Only long afterwards was Whatahoro willing to divulge it to Europeans, and he personally assisted Smith with the translation provided here. Although Smith's interpretative notes and 'comparative mythology' agenda are typical of their time, this pioneering work laid foundations for later research. Volume 1 focuses on the gods and creation myths.
Introduction; 1. Introduction. The ancient houses of teaching. The Whare-wananga, and its methods. The Po, or ages, or aeons of darkness. The months, etc. The Whare-maire. The Whare-porukuruku; 2. The Sage's warning and admonition to this and succeeding generations. The philosophy of the Whare-wananga: the nature of matter, etc., of the Pou-titi-ao, or Guardian Spirits. Io-matua, the Supreme God. The temple named Kawaiki; 3. The names of the Heavens. The marriage of Heaven and Earth. Creation of the Gods. The ages of darkness, or chaos. The separation of Heaven and Earth. The Apas, or Messengers of the Gods. The Gods separate their dwelling-places. The sanctification of Tane. The first temple built on Earth. Tane ascends to the uppermost Heaven. Tane's new names. Tane and Io. The three baskets and two stones. Tane returns to Earth. The Guardian Spirits are appointed. The Wars of the Gods. The overturning of Mother-Earth. The order of creation. Creation of the 'spark of life' in Man; 4. Creation of the germ of life in Man. The Pedigree of Man. Hine-nui-te-Po, goddess of Hades. Whakaru-au-moko, god of volcanic phenomena; Whiro, god of evil. Some functions of the other Gods; 5. The Po, or ages of darkness. Astronomical notes. The months and days. More astronomical notes; 6. Introduction. Maui's visit to Hades, Maui and the great fire. Maui, the fisher-up of lands. The overturning by Mataaho. Mataora's visit to Hades. The origin of tattooing; Index.