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by Dr Anthony E. Smart
A Polynesian primeval god, who divided in two. So he became the god Rangi and the goddess Papa; the parents of all the other gods.

In the myths of Tahuata (the Marquesas), Atea ("Space") emerged one morning from Chaos (see: Tanaoa). Freeing himself, he made room for Atanua to arise. They married and had a son, Tu-Mea, the first man.

In Tuamotuan mythology, Atea was the sky god, who married Fa'ahotu, but after their firstborn, the magician Tahu, died of starvation on Fa'ahotu's flat bosom, and others followed, the two gods exchanged sexes. A legend is told of Atea and Tane, a younger god whom Atea tried to capture. After having sent a host of deities against Tane, the young god escaped to Earth and wandered, finally becoming so hungry that he killed and ate one of his ancestors. This was the beginning of what was to become cannibalism. Reaching manhood, Tane declared war on Atea, and slew him with the thunderbolts of his ancestor, Fatu-tiri.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Atea Rangi
  • Etymology:

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