skip to main content
Site banner

Physical and spiritual properties of wai

Test copy. Māori attitudes to water stem from whakapapa that traces our beginnings to the separation of the primordial parents Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papa-tūā-nuku (Earth Mother).

In order for their children to live in the world of light, their son Tāne (God of forest and birds) separated his parents by propping is father up to become the heavens and pushing his mother below to become the earth. The perpetual grief between the two lovers is understood to be the first instances of water; rainfall is embodied as the tears of Ranginui for his wife, while the wellsprings and mist are the weeping of Papa-tū-ā-nuku for her husband (Morgan, 2006; Williams, 2006).

The whakapapa depicted below in Figure 1 traces the genealogy of water to the various atua and primordial parents; it is a granular whakapapa explanation for all forms of water and illustrates the Māori belief that we ultimately trace our ancestry to the rivers, creeks, streams and lakes as part of our ancient whakapapa lineage back to Rangi and Papa. Ranginui = Papa-tū-ā-nuku Tāne Tangaroa Rongo Tū-mata-uenga Haumia-tiketike Rū-ai-moko Tāwhiri-mā-tea (Forests, birds, (Sea, and sea (Vegetation) (War) (Uncultivated foods) (Earthquakes) (Elements) creation of man) creatures) Tāne = Hine-tū-pari-maunga (The mountain maid) Parawhenuamea (Waters of the earth) = Kiwa (Personification of the ocean) Hine-kohu Hine-te-ihorangi Hine-parawhenuamea (Considered the daughters of all forms of water) Figure 1:

Whakapapa of water. Adapted from “God, man and universe: A Māori view” by M. Marsden, 2003a, in T. A. C. Royal (Ed.), The woven universe: Selected writings of Rev. Māori Marsden, pp. 2-23; J. Williams (2006) Resource management and Māori attitudes to water in southern New Zealand, The New Zealand Geographical Society, 62, p. 74 and Waka Huia (2016) Erina Kaui takes us down Te Wairoa river and reveals the genealogy of water. Sourced from (Accessed 28 August 2018). 4 Based on Figure 1, the daughter of Tāne and Hine-tū-pari-maunga is Parawhenuamea, the tutelary deity of earthly or ground waters and the “personification of rivers and streams, especially flood waters” (Williams, 2006, p. 74).

The whakataukī, “nā ko Parawhenuamea koia te matua o te wai” translates to “Parawhenumea, the parent of water” (Best, 1976, p. 254). Her name reveals her primary function; ‘para’ is the rubbish, sediment, waste, vegetation or nutrients and ‘whenua’ means the land. Hence, Parawhenuamea personifies the deluge or floods that flush out the para from the land out into the ocean. Parawhenuamea is the wife of Kiwa, who personifies the ocean; estuaries are considered the shared domain where the couple meets (Heke, 2013; Williams, 2006). From their union, begat three daughters, Hine-kohu, Hine-te-ihorangi and Hine-parawhenuamea who represent other forms of water such as the rain and mist (Waka Huia, 2016; Heke, 2013).


+ Text Size -

Skip to TOP

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the server!