The creation story
In the beginning, out of nothingness Ranginui and Papatūānuku were created.
Rangi and Papa clung together and trapped the children they had made in a land of darkness. The strongest child was Tāne Mahuta. Tāne Mahuta is the god of the forests and creator of forest creatures. It was he who pushed his parents apart. This brought light to the land and allowed life to grow.
Te Roroa tupuna of Waipoua forest say that Tāne's legs were the giant trunks of kauri.
Northern iwi have links with Te Wao Nui a Tāne (the great kingdom of Tāne Mahuta) that goes back to the beginning of time. The kauri tree is one of many links Māori have with Te Wao Nui a Tāne, for food, recreation, medicines, shelter, and resources.
In Māori tradition kauri and people are deeply linked: both were created by Tāne and will always be connected. Ancient karakia are still said to this day to clear the pathways to Te Wao Nui and to get permission from the forest gods to take leaves for medicines, for example.
Sometimes the giant trunks of kauri were used to carve out large waka taua. But kauri was not as useful to Māori as some other trees. Trees like tōtara and miro had better timber for buildings and carving. These trees also grew berries that attracted birds which were an important source of food.
Kauri gum had many uses. It was:
- burned as an insecticide in kūmara plots
- wrapped in flax to make torches for night-fishing
- used as a chewing gum
- burnt and mixed with fat to create the ink for moko of rangatira.
The relationship of tangata whenua to the land and waterways is one of protection for the future. Taonga tuku iho is about the protection of highly valued taonga. This protection passes through generations, in a caring and respectful way.
Te Roroa iwi is kaitiaki of Waipoua kauri. This is where Tāne Mahuta grows. Their goal is to protect the rākau rangatira. Visitors to the forest are asked to use the foot-cleaning stations and stay on the paths. Te Roroa want to protect the kauri and share their forest with others.
- You can find out more about visiting Waipoua on their website: http://www.teroroa.iwi.nz/visit-waipoua.html
Te Kawerau a Maki is the iwi that is kaitiaki over the Waitākere forests. They placed a rāhui on the forest. The rāhui asks people to stay out to protect the trees.