"Night." The cosmic darkness out of which all forms of life and light were afterwards evolved or procreated. The genealogies give differing versions, some of which are as follows: Te Pō, Te Ao, Te Ao-tu-roa, Te Ao-marama, Te Kore, Te Kore-te-whiwhia, Te Kore-te-rawea, Te Kore-te-tamaua, Te Kore-matua, Mākū, Rangi, etc.1

Another version is: Te Pō, Te Pō-teki, Te Pō-terea, Te Pō-whawha, Hine-ruaki-moe, Te Ata, Te Ao-tu-roa, Te Ao-marama, Whaitua, Te Kore, Te Kore-tuatahi, Te Kore-tuarua, Kore-nui, Kore-roa, Kore-para, Kore-whiwhia, Kore-rawea, Kore-te-tamaua, Te Mangu. From the union of Te Mangu with Mahorahora-nui-a-Rangi came the four Toko (the Props of Heaven).2

An interesting list of Cosmic Forces is to be found in the Appendix to Grey's Poems.3 Here we find Night (Pō) carried from first Night up to thousands and myriads, then the Kore are also counted up to myriads, etc. A longer genealogy from Chaos to Rangi4 commences by saying that God commenced the song of creation as Pō, Te Ao, etc., etc.

One of the Pō had a human form, so also had one of the Kore. Pō-tangotango and Pō-uriuri were children of Hine-nui-te-pō, after she fled to Night.

It is almost impossible to draw any distinction between the mythical Pō, the ancestor of all things, the actual night, the underworld from which the souls of men come and to which they return, and the far-away country (perhaps also mystical) from whence the Polynesians came. Pō, Hawaiki, the Unknown, the Spirit-land, Night, Darkness, etc., all merge, and are lost in one another. The word and the sense are common to all Polynesians alike, although in some of the islands the ideas have been elaborated more in particular directions than in others.



  1. Shortland, Edward. (1856). Traditions and Superstitions of the New Zealanders. London: Longmans Green, p. 56.
  2. Shortland, Edward. (1882). Maori Religion and Mythology. London: Longmans Green, p. 12.
  3. Grey, Sir George. (1853). Poems of the New Zealanders (Nga Moteatea), xlix.
  4. White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G, Disbury, p. 1:18.


  • Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 342.

This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.