Volume 30 1921 > Volume 30, No. 120 > The Origin of the stars, p 259-261
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- 259

[The following was written by some unknown old man (old—because of the character of the writing), who was probably of the Ngati-Pāka tribe of Wairoa, Nuhaka and Te Mahia, on the East Coast of New Zealand, which may be judged by the dialect, and from the fact that the paper from which these notes are extracted, gives several genealogical descents to Ihaka Whanga, a very well-known chief of those parts in the latter half of the nineteenth century. This is one of the late Samuel Locke's papers, now with the Society. One would much like to have questioned the old man on the meanings he would have given to the name of the stars. My translation of his karakias is, I fear, only an approximation to the meaning of the original.]


On the death of Hine-ahu-one (woman-made-of-earth; the first woman), the wife of Tane-nui-a-rangi (Great Tane-of-heaven), he cohabited with his own daughter, Hine-titama. During their dwelling on one occasion Hine-titama said to Tāne, “Who is my father?” Tāne pointed to his thighs. Hine-titama was overcome (with shame) at this answer, and fled. Tāne proceeded in pursuit of her, in vain, he could not overtake her. So he remained (disconsolate) at his home.

Hence it is that he brought forth the stars. There were four baskets (or receptacles) into which the stars were gathered, and their names are as follows: “Haruru,” “Taiaroa,” “Maemae,” and “Whiriwhiri.” When he placed the stars in these baskets the following karakia (or incantation) was recited:—

Rutua! rutua! Beat! Beat!
Taia! taia! Strike! Strike!
Whaoa! whaoa! Place them in!

The following are the karakias of each basket:—

Haruru te rangi i runga Resounds the heavens above,
Ka toro taku kete tapu My sacred basket reaches out
He whetu tukua ki te rangi To spread the stars in heaven
Io e, ko tana tama i whea, e. O Io! his son, where is he?
- 260

That is the karakia for “Hururu.” The following is for “Maemae” and “Taiaroa”:—

Maemae, Taiaroa no nga whatu, Maemae and Taiaroa from the stars,
Ana ra taku kete hiku tautau e, Behold my basket with its pendulous end,
He kete hao tipua, 'Tis a basket to enclose the miraculous,
Ana ra taku kete hiku tautau e, Behold my basket with the pendulous end,
No Hawaiki. Even from Hawaiki.
Ana ra taku kete hiku tautau e, Behold my basket with the pendulous end,
No nga kakano, Containing the seed (of the stars)
Ana ra taku kete hiku tautau e, Behold my basket with the pendulous end.

The following is for “Whiriwhiri” basket:—

Ka whiriwhiri taku kete Twist (the stars) of my basket,
Ka rangaranga taku kete Plait (the fibre) of my basket,
Ko Tu-tawake taku kete tu. My basket is Tu-tawake.

The reason why Tāne-nui-a-rangi carried the stars above, was in order to adorn the belly of his parent, Rangi-nui (The Sky-father), which stands above. These stars were gods of the Maori people; and this is the prayer we used to address to them:—

Whangaia mai Puanga-nui-a-Tonga
I te ata, kia kai mai te Rangi-tapu
He rangi aitu—e—
Ko Puanga, ko te matahi takurua
Ko te marua pipiri mai
Ko te toru, Aroaro-Whanui
Ko te wha, torotika whakarere
Ko te rima, Wawa
Ko te ono, Peke-tawhira
Ko te whitu, Peke-hawani
Ko te waru, Whiti-nga-kerekere
Ko te iwa, ko Taumua
Ko Tauroto, ko Tautukua
Ko Tau-o-manga
Ko Pakahi, ko Pakaha,
Ko te rua ko Hui-te-rangiora 1
- 261
Ko Rongo-i-waho
Ko Manini-tua, ko Manini-aro,
Tauranga-te-ruhi, ko Te Pahekeheke
Ko Te Mania-rua, ko Te Pahekeheke
Ko Tupuranga-te-Pō
Taku kainga ko Hawaiki.

The above is the karakia whangai, or feeding incantation of the stars.

Sacrifice to Great Puanga (Rigel) of the south
In the morning the sacred heavens may feed
For it is a heaven of evil powers,
Puanga who presides over the first (month of winter)
The second month is the period of confinement (to the house)
The third, named Aroaro-whanui (a star)
The fourth is “straightness” abandoned
The fifth is Wawa (? a star)
The sixth is Peke-tawhiro (a star)
The seventh is Peke-hawani (a star)
The eighth is Whiti-nga-kerekere
The ninth is Taumua,
Together with Tauroto and Tau-tukua
And Tau-a-manga
With Pakahi and Pakaha
The container is Hui-te-rangiora*
Then Rongo-i-waho,
With Manini-tua and Manini-ara
Taurangi-te-ruhi and Rakau-tu-ka
Mania-rua and Te Pahekeheke
With Tupuranga-te-Pō
My home is at Hawaiki.
1   Name of a cluster of stars, and also of a great navigator who visited the Antarctic and made many discoveries in the Pacific.