The Props of Heaven. When Rangi (Heaven) and Papa (Earth) were pushed asunder by their children, they were afterwards permanently separated by props or supports. Mythically, these were powers or deities existing between the reign of chaos and the creation of men.
Their names are diversely given: Toko-mua (elder prop), Toko-roto (middle prop), Toko-pā (last prop), and Rangi-pōtiki (child Rangi). These were all children of Mahorahora-nui-a-Rangi.1 Others list the props as: Ma-tu-pua (stand elevated), Rua-tahito (old pit), Pi-naki (gentle slope), Kai-he (wrong eating), Nga-mau-ki-tua (the taken behind), Ko-nga-mau-ki-waho (the taken outside), and Ko-nga-mau-ki-tahito-o-terangi (taken to the ancient heaven).2 Toko-maunga was the Prop of Tāne; Rua-tipua was the Prop of Pāia;3 Toko-huru-nuku and Toko-huru-rangi were names of Props by which Rangi was thrust upwards.4 Toko-rua-tipua and Toko-kapuka were the two outside Props, and Toko-maunga and Toko-tu-pua the two inside Props.
In Mangaia, it is said that Rū, the Sky-supporter, raised heaven, which is a solid arch of blue stones. Rū came from the spirit-world (Avaiki or Hawaiki), and pushing up the sky, propped it up with strong stakes at Rangimotia, the center of the Island, and of the world. Māui then threw Rū up into the sky, where he stuck fast. As his body rotted, the great bones came down on the earth, and formed stones. These are of pumice-stone: Rū tokotoko i te rangi tuatini, "Rū, who supports the many heavens."
- Shortland, Edward. (1882). Maori Religion and Mythology. London: Longmans Green, p. 12.
- White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G, Disbury, p. 1:52.
- ibid., p. 1:41.
- Shortland 1882, p. 20.
- Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, pp. 528-529.
This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.