- In the mythology of the
Tuamotu (Society) Islands, a religious order first organized by the gods
Oro-Teteta and Uru-Tetefa, two brothers living in heaven but later settling on
earth. Like the Knights of St John, they were celibate warriors, who recruited
their members from among the nobility.
- The Maori Goddess of
- An island in the Tongan
archipelago. The story runs that Ata was thrown down from heaven. Such stony
islands were called Maka-Fonua 'Thrown-Land'.
- ('Space') Atea was the
Sky-God in the cosmology of the people of Tuamotu. He married Fa'ahotu. Their
first son was Tahu, 'Knowledge', who became a great magician. Their second son
was Tane, according to some versions of the myth, and another son was Ro'o.
Tane and Atea were later cocked in a deadly struggle, like Zeus and Kronos.
Finally Tane, using the thunderbolt Fatu-Titi, slew Atea, Many kings of the
Tuamotu islands trave their descent to Atea. See also Tangaroa.
- The Maori chief who managed
to catch a lovely fairy in a net, and married her.
- In Samoan myth, a hero who
is half-human, half-spirit. He built a miraculous canoe which he completed in
one night. Then he summoned the birds from heaven to carry the light craft to
the beach of Upolu where chief Alutanga Nuku was awaiting it impatiently.
Atonga even taught the birds the song he wanted them to sing. Thus Atonga is a
culture hero who invented canoe-building as well as the songs for the rowers.
- Name of the first man on
Fiji and the first man on Tonga, according to Samoan myth.
- An ancestor's spirit
revered as a god.
- Atutuahi (or Autahi)
- The south star, Canopus,
Alpha Carinae, God of the Heavens, which guided Polynesian navigators on their
voyages lasting many months. Atutuahi is addressed in hymns as the 'Mother of
the Moon and the Star'.
- Auahi-Turoa and the Fire
- According to Polynesian
myth, Auahi-Turoa was the son of the Sun-God Tama Nui-Te-Ra, who sent him down
to earth as a comet, carrying the Seed of Fire. On earth, Auahi-Turoa married
Mahuika, the Fire-Goddess, or Mother of Fire. They had five sons, the Fire
Children, who bear the names of the fingers: Koiti (little finger), Konui
(thumb), Koroa (index finger), Manawa (ring finger) and Mapere (middle
- (Caroline Islands) The
- ('The All-Devouring') A
deity of death in Polynesian mythology.
- A king in Kiribati
mythology. See Nei Tituabine.
- The Maori Storm-God.
(New Guinea) A cannibalistic ogress. When she died she
became the crocodile ancestor.
- A Kiribati demi-god.
- In Kiribati there is a myth
of the Sun-God in which he sent a ray of light to a woman on earth and so made
her pregnant. She gave birth to a son whom she called Bue. She told her son
who his father was, so he built a canoe and set out one night towards the
east, hoping to meet his father. He wanted to receive wisdom, rabakau, and
knowledge, ataibai, from the Sun God. Hours before sunrise he set out and
travelled east in his fast vessel until he saw the sunrise quite close. His
father taught him the art of building boats and houses and gave him the power
to call up the winds and soothe the storms, the knowledge to cure diseases,
the secret of wealth and the art of poetry.
- The Fijian Shark-God, eater of lost souls.
- (Melanesia/Fiji) The Serpent-God, a judge in the Land of the Dead.
- In Fijian mythology, Degei
is the Serpent-God in the Kauvadra hills. After death the soul faces a long
journey from the sunny land of the living to the cold, misty Land of the Dead.
Degei will interrogate the souls as soon as they arrive. Idle men, whose nails
are long, will be punished. Industrious souls will be rewarded. After judgment
the soul will be thrown into a deep lake. It will sink for a long time until
it reaches Murimuria, a sort of Purgatory. There some will be rewarded and
others will receive dire punishment. Only a few are chosen by the gods -
arbitrarily, it seems - to go to Burotu, the land of eternal life and joy,
where they will rest in the cool shade.
- De ai
- (Micronesia) Mother
of the sun, moon, and sea.
(Melanesia) A malignant spirit who tried constantly to
frustrate human enterprise by making crops fail, scaring fish away from nets,
etc. Some places he was a male god, in other places she was a female goddess.
- The Samoan first woman.
- In Hawaiian mythology, a
kabuna, a diviner who can see the spirits, cure diseases and return the dead
to life. One day, Eleio set out to find the root of the awa (kava) plant.
Ahead of him he saw a lovely girl. He walked faster to catch up with her but
so did she. e ran, but so did she. Over hills and woods she flew ahead of him.
At last, on top of a high rock overlooking the ocean, by an old tower in which
the kings of the past lay buried with their families, she turned to face him,
saying, 'Leave me alone. I am a spirit. This is my home. Now go to that house
there in the valley. My parents live there. Tell them you saw me and they will
give you presents.' After these words, the ghost vanished. Eleio entered the
tower and there he saw the dead body of the girl. She had not been dead for
long. She was as beautiful as her spirit had been. Quickly, Eleio left the
mortuary (you must not stay long near the dead), and went to the house she had
indicated. There he found her parents mourning their beloved daughter. He told
them that he had seen their daughter, and what she had told him. He ordered a
pig to be slaughtered, a meal to be cooked and various objects to be brought.
Then he went back to the old tower, accompanied by the dead girl's family. He
chanted his magic incantations continuously. Suddenly he saw the girl's spirit
again. This time he caught it. Bringing it back to the body, he held it there,
pressing it against the insteps. It went in and up as far as the knees. There
it stoppe4d and only Eleio's untiring incantations induced it to go further
and spread out into all the parts of the body. The girl woke up and rose. Her
parents, weeping with joy, helped her to place her first steps in her new
life. Bringing her home in triumph, they offered the meal to the gods, after
which they gave a feast. The girl, whose name was Aula, suddenly felt hungry.
The parents spoke to Eleio: 'You have created our daughter anew. Without you
we would have been inconsolable for life. Please take her as your wife.' The
leaves of the awa or kava plant are believed to have the power to revive the
dead if administered with the right formulae.
- The Samoan Wind-God.
- In Samoan mythology, he is
the War-God, who is described as a huge octopus, living under the sea with his
tentacles reaching to the far corners of the known world like a huge compass
with eight hands. Fe'e was believed to cause thunderstorms in which his voice
would be heard. The king's diviners would listen and if the god's voice was
inauspicious, all war plans would be postponed. Fe'e courted the daughter of
the King of Upolu, and when the king refused him, he knocked a hole in the
barrier reef protecting the island, there the city of Apia now lies. There he
had a stone house built for himself, the ruins of which have been pointed out
to researchers. Under the sea he had a palace called Bale-Fe'e.
- God of Mists and Fog.
- The God of Wild Roots and
- Hine-keha, Hine-uri
- The Moon-Goddess, wife of Marama the Moon-God, whose forms
are Hina-keha (bright moon) and Hine-uri (dark room).
- Goddess of the Night, of Darkness and Death. Hine is
actually a universal goddess with many functions. She is represented with two heads, night
and day. One of her functions is as patroness of arts and crafts. She loved Tuna
the fish-man, out of whose head grew the first coconut.
- The Lady of the Ocean Waves. Hine in her fish form.
- A benevolent goddess of the wind who blows vessels to
- The mother of the trickster demi-god Maui.
- The Supreme Being, the "Old One", greatest of
the gods who dwells above the sky, in the highest of the twelve upper worlds.
- La'a Maomao
- The Polynesian God of the
- In the mythology of Ata,
one of the Tongan islands, Laufakanaa is the God of inds. The heavenly god
Tamapo sent Laufakanaa down to earth to rule the winds. He landed on Ata and
became its ruler. The skipper of all Tongan vessels would pray to Laufakanaa
for favourable winds and would even visit Ata with offerings of bread and
coconut oil to appease the god's stormy temper. Laufakanaa brought the banana
tree from heaven and taught the Tongans the art of fishing with a net and of
making the nets. His name means 'Speaking' (lau) and 'Peace', just as
the wind in the Pacific is quiet one moment and roaring the next.
- The Polynesian God of the
- The one-armed Fijian god of
- In Micronesian mythology,
she is the great goddess who was never born. She created the world and all
that is in it. She lies on her back beneath the sea and when she stirs, it is
an earthquake. Her son became the ruler of the ocean and the Underworld, her
daughter rose up to heaven where she married the Sky-God. They had a son,
Aluelap, who is the possessor of all knowledge.
- According to the myths of
the people of the Marshall Islands, Loa was the name of the Creator. Living
alone in the primeval ocean, he created the colourful reefs and barriers which
gradually filled up with sand. Then he made the plants, trees, birds and
colourful fish. He placed a god as guardian over each of the islands. Then he
created, from between his legs, Wulleb and Limdunanji, the first man and
woman. They had many children who, when they had grown up, conspired to kill
their father. Wulleb fled and landed on an uninhabited island. There, out of
his leg, he gave birth to two more children. The youngest son was called Edao;
he became the first magic-worker.
- The Moon-Goddess in north
Polynesian mythology, who fell in love with a mortal man, Ai Kanaka, and
married him. She carried him on her wings to the White Kingdom she ruled. They
lived very happily until Ai Kanaka died because he was an earthling.
- In the mythology of some
Caroline Islands peoples, Lugeilan was the God of Knowledge who descended from
heaven to teach the people one earth how to cultivate crops. He is associated
with the coconut palm.
- The great white shark, a monster fish able to swallow a
pahi canoe whole.
- The great wind-god, father of the many storm-god,
including "howling rainfall" and "fierce squall".
- God of the moon, husband of Hine-keha, Hine-uri.
- First woman and divine ancestor, wife of Tiki. She was
fashioned by the goddess of mirages out of the noon day heatwaves.
- 2.The great Oceanian trickster hero, with powers almost
equal those of a god. Maui was born to Taranga, who wrapped the child in her hair and gave
him to the sea-fairies. Maui is responsible for many things, including the birth of the
myriads of islands in Oceania, the coconut, and the length of the day, which was once too
short until Maui beat Ra with a stick and forced him to travel across the sky more slowly.
- Ruler of the underworld.
- The lizard-god.
- Goddess of punishment, who waits at the entrance to the
land of the dead for bachelors.
- The god of sleet.
- God of war and peace, commander of the warrior hordes of
the spirit world. In peace time he is "Oro with the spear down" but in war he is
"killer of men". Patron of the Arioi.
- Mother earth, wife of Rangi, first woman.
Goddess of the Underworld.
The earth, a goddess,
and the first woman in Polynesian mythology. Her husband is variously called
Wakea, Vatea or Tangi. Some traditions relate that this first couple came to
Hawaii from the Society Islands in a canoe with two pigs, two dogs and two
fowls. Others relate that their original homeland was Ilolo (Jilolo) or Ololoi
in the Moluccas, now part of Indonesia. This name, Muluka or
Moloka ( 'Molucca' ), was the origin of the name of Molokai, one of the
- Goddess of fire and the volcano.
- Goddess of the waters which surround islands.
- Her mother was
Tahinariki or Haoumea, or Papa. She married Wahiaroa. One morning Pere wanted
to travel so her mother gave her the ocean in a jar to take with her and later
to carry her in her royal yacht. In the beginning there was no sea at all, so
Pere poured it out whenever she wanted to go. At first she carried the ocean
in a jar on her head, and later, when she had poured it all out, the ocean
carried h3r in her lovely divine ship. Thus a mother will give birth to a son
who will one day 'support' her.
Melanesian sun god.
- Tama. Nui-te-ra, the sun-god.
- God of the upper sky, originally coupled to his wife's
Papa, the Goddess of the Earth, but separated by their children, mainly Tane the God of
Forests whose trees pushed the couple apart and provide a space between the brown earth
and the blue sky, to make room for creatures to walk and fly.
- A demi-god, wife of the trickster demi-god Maui who became
tired of his mischief and left him to live in the netherworld.
- God of agriculture, fruits and cultivated plants. Along
with Tane and Tu he forms the creative unity, the Trinity, equal in essence but each with
distinctly attributes. They are responsible for making man, in the image of Tane, out of
pieces of earth fetched by Rongo and shaped, using his spittle as mortar, by Tu
Constructor. When they breathed over him, Man came to life.
- God of the sweet potato, staple diet of
the people of Oceania.
- God of comets and whales.
- The healer-god whose curative chants were taught to men to
help them drive out evil spirits which cause sickness.
- Unborn God of Earthquakes, trapped in Papa's womb.
- God of death in battle.
- In the myths of the people
of Kiribati, Taburimai was the ancestor of the people, son of the demi-god
Bakoa. He had a brother Teanoi, the hammer-headed shark. One day the people of
his island plotted to kill Taburimai but Bakoa got wind of the evil plans. He
asked Teanoi to carry his brother to safety. This he did by swimming away
across the sea. Then, having left his brother safely on the beach at Samoa,
Teanoi flew up into the sky where he can still be seen (probably as the
- Son of Rangi, the sky-god and himself the god of artisans
and boat builders. He is also the God of Light (especially to underwater swimmers because
to skin divers light is where life is), the God of artistic beauty, the God of the Forest,
and Lord of the Fairies. As creator in one of his minor forms, he is the God of Hope.
- God of the ocean who breathes only twice in 24 hours thus
creating the tides.
- The Samoan Ocean-God See
- God of Thunder and Lightning. Tawhaki gives birth to Uira
(lightning) out of his armpits. Tawhaki is also the God of Good Health, an artisan god
particularly adept at building houses and plaiting decorative mats.
- The God of Storms and
Winds, leveller of forests, wave-whipper.
- Te Tuna
- A fish-god and vegetarian-god. Tuna lived in a tidal pool
near the beach and one day Hine went down to the pool to bathe. Tuna made love to her
while she did so and they lived for some time on the ocean bed.
- The divine ancestor of all Oceanians who let his people in
their fleet to the first islands of Oceania.
- A wave-god of monstrous size whose enormous power and
quick flaring temper are to be greatly feared.
- Tini Rau
- The God of War, the first
- Tui Tofua
- God of all the Sharks.
- The Rain God, whose many sons and daughters, such as
"long rains" and "short rains" are responsible for providing the earth
- Lightning (see Tawhaki)
- A minor god of evil, decapitated in a battle amongst the
gods and whose head now rolls along beaches looking for victims.
(Polynesian) The demonic mother figure of Polynesia
looked like a seductive woman (except for her protruding eyes and her tongue
hanging to her toes!). She sneaked through the world at night stealing and
eating small children.
(Melanesia) The eight-fold snake goddess was born to a
human mother; the woman was afraid of her husband and hid the serpent girl.
But he discovered the deception and was so shocked he cut Walutahanga into
eight pieces. After eight days of rain, the girl's body rejoined into a whole.
Walutahanga traveled through the islands, tormenting humans in retaliation for
her murder. Captured, she was again chopped into eight pieces; everyone,
except a woman and her daughter ate the body, and threw her bones into the
sea;. It rained for another eight days. Then the bones under the sea again
formed themselves into the goddess. To punish humanity, Walutahanga covered
the islands with eight huge flooding waves, which killed everyone but the
woman and her child, the only ones who had not eaten the goddess' flesh. The
goddess gave these two many gifts, including the coconut and clearwater
streams, before again retreating to the ocean.
(Polynesia) This goddess was a coconut-shell divinity
who parthenogenetically produced the other gods from her right and left sides.
Wari symbolizes the fertile slime of primordial times and literally means
(Polynesia) She was a powerful figure who owned the
thunder and ate human flesh. Once she descended to earth to marry a warrior
chief, misunderstanding his title, "mankiller." When Whaitiri had taken up
residence with her husband, she found that he did not, after all, share her
affection for eating humans. Not only that, but he complained about the smell
of their children's excrement. She invented the toilet, showed humans how to
use it, and returned to the sky, where she still lives.
- The Maori God of Hail.
- The Maori Lizard-God of
the Dead who lives in the dark misty Underworld and inspires evil thoughts in
the minds of people.
- A god and the first man according to the myths of
some of the Marshall Islands peoples. He was born in an oyster shell from
between Loa's legs. When he lifted the top half of the shell, it became the
sky, while the bottom became the earth. This myth aptly explains the Pacific's
colours. See also: Loa