Te Whaanau Maarama The Heavenly Bodies

Te Whaanau Maarama are the family of light: Te Raa (the sun) is the eldest, then Te Marama (the moon), Ngaa Whetuu (the stars), Hinaatore (phosphorescent light), and Parikoikoi (gloomy light), and then the youngest is Hinerauaamoa (a small female star).

Taane (the god of the forest) is their uncle. After he’d separated Ranginui the sky and Papatuuaanuku the earth, Taane was concerned that the darkness had continued. He asked the parents of Te Waanau Maarama, Tangotango and Wainui, if they'd give their children to light the earth.

Tangotango and Whainui agreed, so Taane took Te Whaanau Maarama from where they were hung in Hui-te-Rangiora—the first house constructed on earth. He placed Te Whaanau Maarama in a kete (woven basket) called Te Mangooroa for their long journey to the sky.

Taane arranged Te Whaanau Maarama so they adorned the breast of their grandfather Ranginui in patterns that reflected how they had hung in Hui-te-Rangiora. Taane was so pleased with his work that he paused to do a haka. In this moment of elation, he knocked Te Mangooroa. The remaining Ngaa Whetuu (the stars) spilled across the sky to form the Milky Way. If you look into the dark patch at the centre of the Milky Way, you're looking into the still upside down Te Mangooroa.

These images and text were collected by Irene Wallis (www.cubicearth.nz) while visiting an innovative and inspirational exhibition that told the story of Te Whaanau Maarama though sound, light and sculpture. They've been reimagined, remixed and presented here for you.

The exhibition was held at the Waikato Museum. It was curated by Associate Professor Rangi Matamua, Dr Hemi Whaanga, Dr Ann Hardy (Aotearoa), and PhD candidate Hohepa Tuahine (Tuuhoe, Te Arawa) from Te Whare Waananga o Waikato, and was a collaboration between The University of Waikato, Waikato Museum, and The Royal Society of New Zealand.

Follow the below link for more information about the exhibition, as well as Maaori astronomy and astrology.

Created By
Irene Wallis

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