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Tane, god of the forest, used his head and feet to separate his parents.
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Rangi

According to the Maori people of New Zealand, Rangi was the Sky Father and his wife was the Mother Earth, Papa. At the beginning of time, Rangi, the male sky, and Papa, the female Earth, were entwined in a steady embrace. Rangi wanted this embrace to prevent the creation of the world.

Several gods, the offsprings of the Sky Father and of the Mother Earth could not escape from the close embrace. The trapped gods tried in vain several times to separate their parents. When some of them suggested the only way to be free was to kill their parents, the god of forest, Tane, refused, and attempted again to split his parents. Pushing away his father with his head and his mother with his feet, he finally succeeded.

Once separated the sky and the Earth assumed their present position. Once free, one of the divine children, the storm god Tawhiri was inexplicably upset with Tane for having separated their parents. He expressed all his wrath by creating storms and hurricanes, ravaging the forests which represented the domain of Tane. Tawhiri, thereafter, established his authority over the sky and his siblings.

The god of war, Tu, did not want to submit to the storm god. According to Maoris, the islands of the Pacific Ocean were created by the struggle between Tu and Tawhiri, which represents the beginning of warfare. It is strikingly surprising to discover how similar this creation story is with that of Uranus and Gaea in the Greek mythology and that of Nut and Geb in the ancient Egyptian mythology!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF