In New Zealand, these traditions refer either to accounts of different occurrences, or to relations from widely distant standpoints. The Flood is spoken of either as "The Overturning of Mataaho," or "The Tide of Rua-tapu."
The first deluge, Hurianga-i-Mataaho, was caused by Tāwhaki, in revenge for the cruel treatment he had received from his brothers, who had beaten him terribly and left him for dead. Tāwhaki called on his ancestors, the gods, for revenge; the floods of heaven descended; the earth was overwhelmed with the waters, and the whole race of man perished.1
Another version relates that Puta, who was commissioned to regenerate mankind by teaching them the doctrines of the god Tāne, was mocked by Mataaho, who was the most obstinate unbeliever, and that Puta then, having called on the gods, struck the ground with his knife, the earth turned upside-down, and all living beings perished except Puta and his followers.2
The other deluge, Te Tai-a-Ruatapu, arose from Rua-tapu, the son of Ue-nuku, considering himself insulted by his father remarking that Rua-tapu was of inferior birth (on his mother's side). In revenge, Rua-tapu beguiled seventy of the firstborn sons (ariki) of families into a canoe, and then drowned them; one only, Paikea, escaping to carry the message that Rua-tapu would shortly be with them to destroy them. Only those people who escaped to the sacred mount of Hiku-rangi escaped.3 The flood of Rua-tapu came as a great tidal wave.4
The most consecutive and valuable account of a deluge relates that evil being everywhere triumphant in the world, Para-whenua-mea and Tupu-nui-a-uta preached to wicked mortals in vain, and that the holy doctrines of Tāne and the teachings as to the separation of Rangi (Heaven) and Papa (Earth) were derided. The evil men cursed Para and Tupu, so these two with their few disciples took their stone-axes and felled trees (totara, kahikatea, etc.), which they dragged to the source of the Tohinga River. They then bound the logs together with ropes of vines and supple-jacks (pirita), making a very wide raft, on which they built a house and stored it with provisions. They repeated their incantations and prayed for such abundance of rain as to prove the power of Tāne, and the necessity for ceremonial worship.
Para-whenua-mea, Tipu-tupu-nui-a-uta, Tui, Reti, a woman named Waipunahau, and some other women embarked upon the raft. The staff for rain was set up, and Tui the priest uttered an incantation. It rained in floods for five days and nights until the mountains were covered, and then ceased. The raft had floated down the river Tohinga and entered the waste of waters wherein all had perished who denied the worship of Tāne. They floated about on the raft during seven moons, and on the eighth were told by Tui that the flood was about to subside; he knowing by the signs of the staff, and by the altar which he had erected on one side of the deck.
The rescued mortals landed on dry earth at Hawaiki. They thought at first to find some human beings, but none remained; the earth was changed; it had cracked in parts, and had been turned upside down. On landing, they carefully performed their religious duties by offering sacrifices to Tāne, Rangi, Rehua, and all the gods; seaweed was the sacred offering, as they had no sacrificial victim to slay. Then they performed the sacrifices of thank-offerings for the females, to the goddesses of the Dark Spirit-world (Pō), of the Day (Ao), of the Void (Te Kore), etc. Then other incantations and ceremonies were proceeded with, and looking op they saw Kāhukura (the Rainbow) and Rongo-nui-atau standing in the sky; to them also were offerings made.5 This is the Deluge called "The Flood of Para-whenua-mea." The ark of safety is called a covered canoe (waka pokiki rakau) or a raft (mokihi).
There was a lesser flood at the time when Tāne had completed the adornment of his father Rangi (the Sky), by setting the groups of stars opun his breast.6
- Grey, Sir George. (1855). Polynesian Mythology. London: John Murray, p. 37.
- White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G, Disbury, pp. 1:168, 181.
- ibid., pp. 3:24, 30.
- ibid., p. 3:41.
- ibid., pp. 1:166, 172, ff.
- ibid., p. 1:180.
- Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 558-559.
This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.