Myths Of Origins And The Deluge Of Polynesia
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN considering the mythology of these peoples it will be most convenient to begin with the cosmogonic myths, for these are not only in themselves very interesting, as presenting un-usual features, but also show, in an unmistakable manner, the composite character of the mythology as a whole. It is usual to speak of the Polynesian origin-myths as if they formed a substantially uniform system, to comment on their rather surprisingly philosophic aspect, and to indulge in somewhat vague theorizing in an attempt to explain conditions and the peculiar resemblances to the myths of other parts of the world. When, however, careful study and comparison of the avail-able material are made, it is clear that the problem is by no means as simple as it looks at first sight, and that we have here one of the most interesting of all fields for mythologic investigations.
Comparing the various myths and myth fragments in which the cosmogonic ideas of the Polynesians have been preserved, it appears that these may be separated quite easily into two types : one (usually assumed to be the normal or only form) in which we have what may be called a genealogical or evolutionary development of the cosmos and the gods from an original chaos; the other, in which there is a more or less definite act of creation by a deity or deities. To make clear the differences between these two types and to define the problem. raised by the presence of these two contrasted sets of beliefs, it will be advisable to consider the two groups of myths separately.
The Genealogical or Evolutionary Type. Omitting for the moment such variations as exist between the versions current in the different islands, the essential elements of this form of the myth may be stated as follows. In the beginning there was nothing but Po, a void or chaos, without light, heat, or sound, without form or motion. Gradually vague stirrings began within the darkness, moanings and whisperings arose, and then at first, faint as early dawn, the light appeared and grew until full day had come. Heat and moisture next developed, and from the interaction of these elements came substance and form, ever becoming more and more concrete, until the solid earth and overarching sky took shape and were personified as Heaven Father and Earth Mother. At this point, as a rule, the evolutionary sequence stops and all further things, both natural phenomena and all the myriad gods, are the offspring of bright Heaven by Earth or some other female principle.
This conception of a self-evolving cosmos, of a universe declared by some to be only the body or shell of a great primal cause, is a most surprising one to find among a people upon the plane of culture in which the Polynesians were living at the time of their discovery. As an explanation of the riddle of the universe, and as a philosophic system, it would seem far more appropriate to early Greek or Hindu speculation; and indeed, in the form which was preserved in Hawaii, we really find an extraordinary echo of the doctrines of early Hellas and India; while the resemblances to Scandinavian mythology are also striking. Before attempting, however, to discuss the origin of these beliefs in Polynesia, it will be necessary to consider somewhat more in detail the varied forms which they take in the different island groups within the Polynesian area.
As pointed out above,' New Zealand presents us with what is, in many respects, one of the oldest and simplest forms of Polynesian culture, and we may, therefore, well begin a consideration of the origin-myths by examining those found in this extreme south-western corner of the Polynesian area. From New Zealand a number of versions have been recorded, the forms traditional among different tribes being often quite variable. A comparatively brief account is given by the Ngai-tahu of the South Island. "Po begat Te-ao (light), who begat Ao-marama (daylight), who begat Ao-tu-roa (long-standing light), who begat Kore-te-whiwhia (did not possess), who begat Kore-te-rawea (was not pleased with), who begat Korete-tamaua (was not held), who begat Kore-te-matua (without parent), who begat Maku (damp). Maku took to wife Mahora-nui-a-tea (great spreading out of light) and begat Raki (Rangi)." After this Rangi, by various wives (whose origins are seldom recorded), begat a great number of descendants, many of them deities; and one of these spouses was originally the wife of Tangaroa, the sea-god of whose provenance little is said. Angered by her faithlessness, Tangaroa attacked Rangi and wounded him in the thigh with a spear.
It will be seen at once why the term "genealogical" has been applied to this class of origin-myths, the successive stages in the development of the cosmos being individualized and personified and each being regarded as the offspring of the next preceding. A different, and in some ways more interesting, version of creation recorded from the New Zealand region is as follows:
"Te Kore The Void
In Whai-tua two existences without shape were formed: Maku ("Moisture"), a male; and Mahora-nui-a-rangi ("Great Expanse of Heaven"), a female; and from these sprang Rangipotiki ("The Heavens"), who took to wife Papa ("Earth") and begat the gods. The sequence here, leading from the original undifferentiated void through various stages of darkness and light to space, in which the parents of the bright sky took form, illustrates at once the dual character of this type of myth; for here we find both the idea of progressive develop-ment and the individualization of the successive stages in this evolution as a genealogic series.
One more example of this type may be given:
"From the conception the increase
From these came various lands and gods.'
Apparently it has been generally assumed that this evolutionary, genealogical myth was entirely typical of Maori mythology; but in reality the matter is far from being so simple, for the New Zealand beliefs appear to be somewhat confused on the subject of the origin of Rangi and Papa. The version just outlined ascribes to Rangi a long ancestry and develop-ment, but other legends allude to a primeval sea, out of which the earth (Papa) grew, later to be taken to wife by Rangi, the Sky Father. Other myths,' again, omit all reference to an original chaos, and without attempting to account for Rangi and Papa simply assume their existence, and then go on in much detail to describe the birth of Rangi's various progeny by a series of wives, who are usually given as six.' By the first, Poko-ha-rua-te-po ("Pit of the Breath of Night"), he had as offspring Ha-nui-o-rangi ("Great Breath of Heaven"), Ta-whiri-ma-tea ("Beckoned and Desired"), and a whole series of winds, as well as rites and incantations, all personified. By the second, Papa-tu-a-nuku (" Flat, Resembling the Earth"), he was the parent of Rehua, Tane, Paia, Tu, Rongo, Ru, and a host of other minor deities. Now Papa-tu-a-nuku was the wife of Tangaroa, but had deserted him, coming to Rangi while Tangaroa was away. When the latter returned and learned of his wife's faithlessness, he attacked Rangi and speared him in the thigh; and during the time that the Sky Father was thus wounded, he begat another series of deities.
Rangi's third wife was Heke-heke-i-papa (" Coming Down to Earth"), by-whom he had many children, the most important being Tama-nui-a-rangi ("Great Son of Heaven"). By his fourth wife, Hotu-papa ("Sobbing Earth"), he was the father of a host of children, for the most part of little note, though Tu and Rongo again appear among them. The offspring of the fifth and sixth wives were unimportant. Although Rangi is thus said to have had various wives, a comparison of the different accounts would seem to emphasize the pre-eminent importance in the Maori mind of the Heaven Father and Earth Mother pair; and, indeed, some versions 10 do not seem to recognize any other. This conception, familiar in classical mythology and elsewhere, seems very characteristic of New Zealand, and apparently reached a higher development there than elsewhere in Polynesia. For the Sky Father an origin from the primeval night or chaos is, as we have seen, some-times asserted; but no explanation of the origin of the Earth Mother is usually thought necessary. New Zealand thus exhibits a type of cosmogony in which the evolutional element, although sometimes well marked, is not invariably present; and in which the belief in the Sky Father and the Earth Mother seems especially strong. The general character of the variants found in different versions suggests that these may be the result of the blending of several sets of beliefs.
It is pretty well established that when New Zealand was discovered, its inhabitants were composed of two main elements: first, the descendants of the great influx of the fourteenth century, who formed the bulk of the population; and second, some remnants of older immigrants more or less mixed with the earliest dwellers found there by these original invaders. Unfortunately, little attempt has been made to recover the undoubtedly older mythology of these "aborigines," so that we have little evidence as to what their beliefs may have been. Some light may be thrown on the question, how-ever, by the fragments recovered from the Moriori of the Chatham Islands," which were colonized from New Zealand before the coming of the historic immigration. Unhappily, the actual cosmogonic myths recorded from the Moriori are very brief, but, so far as they go they make little mention of the evolutionary theme, ascribing the beginning of all things to Rangi and Papa, of whose origin almost nothing is said."' We may, perhaps, regard this as a survival of the older New Zealand belief, which would thus seem to have lacked the evolutionary element, and we should thus be led tentatively to assume that this latter and more philosophic feature represents a later development.
Leaving Maori mythology and turning to the other island groups in Polynesia it is apparent that the cosmogonic myths, current in the Marquesas present striking analogies to some of those in New Zealand. Here, again, in the beginning is the primeval void in which "arises a swelling, a seething, a dark surging, a whirling, a bubbling, and a swallowing there arises a whole series of supports or posts, the great and the small, the long and the short, the crooked and the bent there arise innumerable and endless supports. They riot in such contrasts and synonyms. There arises in particular the foundation the firmness there arises space and light and cliffs of various sorts." The evolutionary or genealogical character is here strongly emphasized, both in its extent and intricacy, and the series of personified abstract qualities and contrasts rivals, and even exceeds, the similar examples from New Zealand. In comparison with New Zealand, accordingly, there seems to be a much greater development of the evolutional, or, as it might perhaps more accurately be termed, the developmental, theme. The antecedents of the existing universe comprise a bewildering series of abstract and partially personified, contrasted qualities; and there is an evident attempt to carry these, on the one hand, backward to an original, negative void, and on the other, forward to an ultimate, primitive substance. In other words, we have here more of a philosophic system: in New Zealand the briefer developmental series led only to the personified Sky Father; here it is the origin of all substance and of solid matter itself which is sought.
Another version serves as a transition to the forms found in the Society Group. According to this, Tanaoa and Mutuhei ("Darkness" and "Silence") ruled supreme in the primeval Po. In the course of time Atea ("Light") evolved or separated himself from Tanaoa, and drove him away; and after this, Ono ("Sound") evolved himself from Atea and destroyed Mutuhei. From these two struggles arose Atanua ("Dawn"), whom Atea took to wife, and so begat a host of deities, besides creating the heavens and the earth. This second version introduces a new factor in the suggestion of a primeval deity, Tangaroa. This feature is usually regarded as foreign to New Zealand mythology, yet in a recent and most important contribution to our knowledge of Maori mythology 15 there seems to be a clearly expressed idea of a supreme, primeval deity, Io, who was before all things, and who is in the ultimate analysis the origin and creator of the universe and all the gods."
The versions given from the Society Islands accord with that from the Marquesas in which Tanaoa ( Tangaroa Taaroa Kanaloa) is regarded as a deity existent from the beginning, but carry this ascendancy of Tanaoa considerably further. One text 18 recounts the origin as follows:
"He existed. Taaroa was his name.
Let immobility cease.
A second version is interesting in comparison with this. "Taaroa (whose origin is not described) embraced a rock, the imagined foundation of all things, which afterward brought forth the earth and sea. . . . Soon after this, the heralds of day, the dark and light blue sky, appeared before Taaroa, and solicited a soul for his offspring the then inanimate universe. The foundation of all replied, `It is done,' and directed his son, the Sky-producer, to accomplish his will. In obedience to the mandate of Taaroa, his son looked up into the heavens, and the heavens received the power of bringing forth new skies, and clouds, sun, moon, and stars, thunder and lightning, rain and wind. He then looked downwards, and the unformed mass received the power to bring forth earth, mountains, rocks, trees, herbs, and flowers, beasts, birds, and insects, fountains, rivers, and fish. Rai-tubu, or Sky-producer, then looked to the abyss, and imparted to it the power to bring forth the purple water, rocks and corals, and all the inhabitants of the ocean."
It is obvious that we are now dealing with quite a different aspect from that with which we started. Tangaroa is here a sort of world soul; a self-evolving, self-existent, creative deity, who alone is ultimately responsible for the origin of the universe. The idea of a primeval, creative deity is, however, not wholly absent from New Zealand, as is shown by the following:
"I dwelt within the breathing-space of immensity.
The cosmogonic ideas of the inhabitants of the Cook or Hervey Group are not clear. The form in which they are given is quite divergent from that in other islands, but the account 21 really gives no true cosmogony, for it describes only the origin of several deities. The universe, of whose beginning nothing is said, is pictured as a hollow shell, in form like a beet, at the lower extremity of which is "The Root of All Existence," above which comes "Breathing All Life" and the "Long-Lived." Next above, where the walls of the shell come together, is Vari-ma-te-takere ("The Very Beginning"), a female deity who creates six other deities Vatea (called Atea in the Marquesas, and Wakea in Hawaii), Tinirau ("Innumerable"), Tango ("Support"), Tu-mute-anaoa (" Echo"), Raka ("Trouble"), and Tu-metua ("Stick by the Parent"). Vatea, whose abode was "The Thin Land," espoused Papa ("Foundation" or "Earth"), the daughter of Tima-te-kore ("Nothing More"), and became the parent of the five great deities, Tangaroa, Rongo, Tonga-iti, Tangiia, and Tane. The account does not harmonize well with any of the preceding beliefs, almost its only point of contact being the union of Vatea (associated with the light or bright sky) and Papa, and their consequent be-getting of the gods. It seems very probable that the real cosmogonic myths of this group have not been recorded.
Summing up the material thus far presented, it may be said that we have in New Zealand one form of cosmogonic myth which indicates a belief in the origin, from an initial chaos, of a Sky-God, Rangi, who, in conjunction with Papa ("The Earth") and other female powers, becomes the father of gods and men. The accounts, as we have them, give the impression of being somewhat fragmentary, as well as composite, and they represent, it may be suggested, the overlaying of an older stratum by the type of origin-myth which was current in the Cook and Society Groups in the fourteenth century the time of the historic emigration from this portion of central Polynesia which brought to New Zealand the ancestors of the great bulk of the population found there at the period of its discovery. This central Polynesian form of myth appears to be strongly developed in the Marquesas also, though with some modifications, notably in tracing the origin of Papa more definitely. Here, however, this type appears itself to be strongly modified in some versions by still another class of myth, that, namely, in which Tangaroa plays the part of a real creator. In the Society Group this feature is still more pronounced, and we have Tangaroa treated almost as a world soul, a deity of whom the cosmos is only a manifestation.
One of the most curious and interesting of Polynesian cosmogonic myths is that found in Hawaii, which, although differing in several important particulars from those just outlined, must yet be considered as belonging to the same general type.23 In the very beginning, however, a striking variation occurs, in that although we have the source of all things from chaos, it is a chaos which is simply the wreck and ruin of an earlier world. "And so, creation begins in the origin of a new world from the shadowy reflex of one that is past... .
"Unsteadily, as in dim moon-shimmer,
The drama of creation, according to the Hawaiian account, is divided into a series of stages, and in the very- first of these life springs from the shadowy abyss and dark night. There is here, however, no long series of antecedent, vaguely personified entities ranged in genealogical sequence, but the immediate appearance of living things. At first the lowly zoophytes and corals come into being, and these are followed by worms and shellfish, each type being declared to conquer and destroy its predecessor, a struggle for existence in which the strongest survive. Parallel with this evolution of animal forms, plant life begins on land and in the sea at first with the algae, followed by seaweeds and rushes. As type follows type, the accumulating slime of their decay raises the land above the waters, in which, as spectator of all, swims the octopus, the lone survivor from an earlier world. In the next period Black Night and Wide-Spread Night give birth to leafy plants and to insects and birds, while in the darkness the first faint glimmering of day appears. The sea brings forth its higher forms, such as the medusae, fishes, and whales; and in the dim twilight monstrous forms creep in the mud. Food plants come into existence while all nature is thrown into an uproar under the stress of its birth-pains. The fifth period sees the emergence of swine (the highest mammal known to the Hawaiian), and night be-comes separated from day. In the sixth, mice appear on land, and porpoises in the sea; the seventh period witnesses the development of various abstract psychic qualities, later to be embodied in man; while in the eighth, the turmoil and uproar having subsided, from peace and quiet, fructified by the light, which is now brilliant, woman is born, and also man, together with some of the higher gods.
The principal difference between this conception which is truly remarkable for a savage people and the myths previously outlined are fivefold: first, the derivation of the present world from the wreck of an earlier; second, the omission of much of the cosmic development, if it may so be called; third, the ascription of the origins of life to the earliest period of creation and the tracing of its evolution from lower' to higher forms; fourth, the suggestion, at least, of the building up of the solid earth as due to the gradual accumulation of the products of decay of the first life; and, lastly, the absence of the Heaven Father and Earth Mother, figures which form so characteristic a part of the New Zealand myths. In spite of these divergencies, however, the fundamental idea of evolutionary sequence, as opposed to creation, is clearly marked; and here, as in the New Zealand myths, the gods are a product of, or an emanation from, the universe, rather than the pre-existent germ of all development. Nevertheless here, as in other Polynesian groups, there were several conflicting versions of the origin-myth; and we find, among others, one 26 in which a triad of gods (not including Tangaroa, however) is said to have "existed from and before chaos." 27 The evolutionary myth, moreover, which has been outlined above, itself shows indications of a complex origin; so that in Hawaii, as elsewhere in Polynesia, there is evidence that the beliefs of the people in regard to origins are far from presenting a uniform type.
The evolutionary motive has been shown to be well developed both in New Zealand and in Hawaii as well as in the Marquesas; but in the West it appears to survive only in more or less fragmentary form, being largely overlaid and supplanted by other themes. In Samoa one version 28 of the origin-myth begins with a genealogical series of rocks or cliffs, from which at length arises the octopus, whose children are fire and water. Between their descendants arises a mighty conflict, in which water wins and the world is destroyed by a flood only to be recreated by Tangaloa. This element of world-destruction and re-creation suggests the Hawaiian myth already outlined, but the evolutionary feature is here reduced to a mere fragment. Another version, in giving the genealogy of the Malietoa, or ruling chief, carries the ancestors back through a long series of pairs of deities or natural phenomena to "The High Rocks" and the "Earth Rocks."
In these forms we see very clearly the genealogical impulse and the developmental idea, but here the primeval pair is the solid rock rather than the formless chaos and silence of Marquesan and New Zealand myths. Another version 31 re-calls more strongly the Hawaiian type, since it presents a succession of forms of vegetable life following each other as offspring and parent, although the elaborateness and coherence of the Hawaiian evolution of life forms is far from being equalled. In the few fragments of the Tongan mythology which have been preserved 32 no trace of this evolutionary theme appears.
The Creative Type. Turning to the second of the main themes shown in the origin-myths, namely, that characterized by belief in a more or less definite creation, notable differences in distribution are at once apparent. In outline the legends of this class recount that in the beginning the gods dwelt in an upper sky-world, below which there was nothing but a wide-spread sea. Into this a deity cast a stone, which ultimately became the world, where, after some of the heavenly beings had descended, mankind later appeared. For the fullest versions of this myth we must turn to Samoa, on the western verge of the Polynesian area, where, it will be remembered, only fragments of the evolutionary theme still survive. From the high heavens Tangaloa saw a stone floating in the boundless sea beneath, and this he brought up to the skies, where he shaped it into human form, inspired it with life, and took it to wife. She bore him a bird, which he sent down from the sky-world, casting into the sea a great rock to serve it for a home. After a while the bird returned to Tangaloa, complaining of the shadeless character of the land, and so the god cast down a vine which grew and gave shadow, but afterward Tangaloa in anger sent worms, which fed upon the vines and killed them, and from the worms or maggots, developed from the rotting vines, man was later made. In this and in other versions from Samoa there is, as a rule, little of an actual fashioning or shaping of the world, although this element appears in one or two cases. The important feature is the belief in a pre-existing world of the gods above, whence something from which the world is ultimately to be made is cast down into the universal sea below; and a further element is the appearance of the bird, who is the messenger or offspring of the sky-deity. A similar version is (or was) current in Tonga. Tama-poulialamafoa ("King of Heaven"), Tangaloa-eiki (" Celestial Chief"), Tangaloa-tufuga ("Celestial Artisan"), and Tangaloa-atu-logo-logo ("Celestial Messenger") dwelt in the heavens. Tangaloa, the divine messenger, was ordered to descend to this world to see if he could find any land, wherefore he departed on a bird, and after flying about for a long time descried a sand-bank on which the waves broke. Returning to the skies, he re-ported that he could find no dry land, but the lords of heaven said to him, "Wait for seven days, and then go back and look again." He did so and found the land already risen above the waters. Bringing back tidings of his discovery, he was again instructed to wait and to look once more, for this dry land which he had seen was indeed the earth. Tangaloa, the divine messenger, then complained that there was no place below where he could rest and was told to ask Tangaloa, the divine artificer, to cast down chips and shavings from his work. This he did, and the island of Eua arose. The divine messenger again descended and lo, there was land which thus had fallen from the skies. The lords of heaven now ordered him to go and live upon this land, but when he had visited it he returned again to heaven and said, "It is a great land that I have seen, but there is in it no plant or tree." Then the divine chief gave him a seed, ordering him to plant it, and when he had done so, the seed germinated and grew, and a great vine arose, spreading until it covered all the land.
Outside of Samoa and Tonga this form of origin-myth scarcely occurs, except in so far as one may perhaps detect an echo of it in the statement that in the beginning there was nothing but a wide-extending sea, on which a deity floated or over which he flew. Thus, in the Society Group, a myth fragment states: "In the beginning there was only the god Ihoiho. Afterward there was an expanse of waters that covered the abyss; and the god Timo-taata floated on the surface." Similarly, in the Marquesas we find it stated that "In the beginning there was only the sea, on which Tiki, a deity existing from the first, floated in a canoe, and afterward fished up the land from the bottom of the ocean." These suggest the Samoan versions, according to which Tangaroa, in the beginning, flew far and wide over the boundless waters, seeking a place to rest. The theme is, perhaps, still more clearly recognizable in another version from the Society Group, according to which Taaroa existed alone in the heavens, where he created his daughter with whom, on the foundation of a rock in the sea, he made the earth, the sky, and the sea. Tongan mythology also refers to the primeval sea and to the realm of the gods far away, whence Maui sails to fish up the land of Tonga 42 This latter episode seems to represent a different element almost throughout Polynesia and probably should not be regarded as belonging to this theme.
Still another origin-myth, which is particularly interesting because of its similarities, is that of the cosmic egg. A fragment of a myth from the Society Group states, "In the beginning, Taaroa existed in an egg, in darkness, from which he later burst forth." In Hawaii another version appears, according to which a bird laid an egg upon the primeval waters, and this afterward burst of itself and produced the world. A somewhat similar tale has been reported from New Zealand also," according to which a great bird flew over the primeval sea and dropped into it an egg, which burst after floating for some time. An old man and an old woman emerged with a canoe, and after they had entered it together with a boy and a girl, one carrying a dog, the other a pig it drifted to land in New Zealand. The resemblance shown to Hindu cosmogonic ideas is not a little striking, and leads to possible conclusions of importance regarding the period of Polynesian migrations, since, if this similarity be regarded as too great to be explained otherwise than by actual transmission, we should have evidence that the last wave of Polynesian immigrants must have left the Indonesian area at least as late as the first or second century A. D., by which time Indian civilization had become established in Java. Such a migration, coming into central Polynesia, might have brought this, together with other elements, which later were distributed north to Hawaii and south to New Zealand before the period of wide contact came to an end in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries.
The simple statement that the heavens and the earth, sun, moon, plants, and animals were all made or created by some deity is found in one form or other in every Polynesian group, and while such a declaration is not so significant as the more detailed forms, yet it serves to indicate a distinctly different conception from what has been called the "evolutionary" theme.
From the materials at present available it would appear that we may with reasonable certainty draw the conclusion that the cosmogonic myths of the Polynesian people are based on at least two themes, one of which may be called the evolutionary or genealogical, and the other the creative. The relative importance and geographic distribution of these two contrasted themes have, moreover, been shown to differ in that the former seems best developed in New Zealand and Hawaii and is largely modified or overlaid by the second in central and western Polynesia. This latter, although it is found almost everywhere in its simple contrast of creation as opposed to evolution, presents an altogether special form in Samoa, and perhaps also in the Marquesas and Society Groups. The evolutionary or genealogical element in Polynesian legends has always attracted attention, and to a certain extent the inborn interest in genealogy shown by all Polynesians is probably responsible for the growth of this side of the mythology.
Everywhere chiefs, as well as common people, preserved lists of their ancestors extending back for many generations, and in the case of the chiefs a divine descent was claimed. To a people so infused with this genealogical habit the ascription of an ancestry not only to the gods, but to the world and to all natural phenomena, was not an illogical step. Other factors, however, also entered into the problem, for from the character of most of these primitive ancestral pairs it is clear that the Polynesian mind had something of a philosophic turn, and that it groped about for a real cause or beginning, seeking to derive the concrete and tangible from the abstract and in-tangible.
It has been most ingeniously suggested 48 that the peculiar environment of the Polynesians had much to do with the development of their special type of cosmogony. Living, as they did, isolated on small islands in the midst of a wide-reaching expanse of ocean with the contrast between the immobility and changelessness of their little lands and the ever-moving, ever-changing sea always before them it would not be surprising if they were led to try to account for this stability in the midst of universal flux on some such basis as that which we actually find. On that theory it is evident that this type of cosmogonic myth would be said to be a strictly local product of the environment in which the Polynesians dwelt; but, on the other hand, there is not a little evidence that the germs, at least, of this type were present among the original immigrants. Theoretically, a quite different solution of the problem might be proposed, based on real or fancied resemblance to Hindu speculation. On this basis it might be argued, as previously in regard to the cosmic egg, that the last immigrant groups to reach Polynesia from the West did not leave the Indonesian region until after this had been influenced by Indian culture, already strong in south-eastern Asia at the beginning of our era; and although this theory meets with several serious difficulties, it must, nevertheless, be taken into consideration.
Further discussion of the question of possible Indian influence in Polynesia may, however, best be reserved for the final estimate of Oceanic mythology as a whole. Critical consideration and comparison of the creation theme must also be left until the Indonesian myths have been discussed, for this type, especially in the particular form in which it appears in Samoa and Tonga, is widely distributed in the more westerly area a region in which, moreover, the proximate origin of the Polynesian peoples must be sought.
The myths thus far considered have been those which were concerned only with the source of the world; we have now to deal with those which describe the origin of man. As before, we may recognize more than one type of myth. There is, first, the form according to which the ancestors of mankind were directly created by one or other of the deities. A second type is that where the first human being, a woman, was thus immediately created by a deity and subsequently taken to wife by him, so that man, as his descendant, is thus in origin half divine. Related to this is a third form, where man is said to be the direct offspring of the deities, and so wholly divine. Lastly, we have the types in which human beings are thought to be the result of a sort of evolutionary process, developing from worms, which are shaped and moulded into human form.
Maori mythology offers examples of the type which ascribes the origin of man to direct creation. According to one version, Tane desired to make man, so he formed a model of earth. "The arms stood forth, and the head, and the feet, and the thighs, and the whole body; and all were fashioned to the design he had formed in his mind made to resemble the body of man. He patted it with his hands into form from the soil of Hawaiki. When he had completed it, he raised it up and stood it erect . . . Tiki or Tiki-au-a-ha was the name Tane gave to the form he made of the earth, which was the first inhabitant of the world." Tane next meditated how he could make a woman who should be a companion to Tiki-au-a-ha, so he again modelled the soil of Hawaiki and prayed, and Io-wahine was produced. Then he ordered her to live with Tiki as his wife, and by them all the world was peopled. According to other versions, however, it was Tiki himself who, as a deity, made the first man of red clay or of clay mixed with his own blood.
In Hawaii we also find the myth of the direct creation of man. Here it was said 52 that the three great gods, Kane, Ku, and Lono, formed man of red earth and the spittle of the gods, shaping him in the likeness of Kane; and having made the image, they breathed into it, calling on it to rise, and it became alive. The ensuing episode of the creation of the first woman from one of the man's ribs is clearly the result of missionary contact. A similar tale is given from Tahiti,53 where, however, Taaroa is the creative deity.
The second type of myth, that, namely, which recounts the creation of a female human being and her marriage to her creator, is found in numerous versions. One from New Zealand runs thus: "Some time after this Tane desired to have his mother Papa for his wife. But Papa said, `Do not turn your inclination towards me, for evil will come to you. Go to your ancestor Mumuhango.' So Tane took Mumuhango to wife, who brought forth the totara-tree. Tane returned to his mother dissatisfied, and his mother said, `Go to your ancestor Hine-tu-a-maunga (= the mountain maid).' So Tane took Hine-tu-a-maunga to wife, who conceived, but did not bring forth a child. Her off-spring was the rusty water of mountains, and the monster rep-tiles common to mountains. Tane was displeased, and returned to his mother. Papa said to him, `Go to your ancestor Rangahore.' So Tane went, and took that female for a wife, who brought forth stone. This greatly displeased Tane, who again went back to Papa. Then Papa said, `Go to your ancestor Ngaore (= the tender one).' Tane took Ngaore to wife. And Ngaore gave birth to the toetoe (a species of rush-like grass). Tane returned to his mother in displeasure. She next advised him, `Go to your ancestor Pakoti.' Tane did as he was bid, but Pakoti only brought forth harekeke (= Phormium tenax). Tane had a great many other wives at his mother's bidding, but none of them pleased him, and his heart was greatly troubled, because no child was born to give birth to Man; so he thus addressed his mother `Old lady, there will never be any progeny for me.' Thereupon Papa said, `Go to your ancestor, Ocean, who is grumbling there in the distance. When you reach the beach at Kura-waka, gather up the earth in the form of man.' So Tane went and scraped up the earth at Kurawaka. He gathered up the earth, the body was formed, and then the head, and the arms; then he joined on the legs, and patted down the surface of the belly, so as to give the form of man; and when he had done this, he returned to his mother, and said, `The whole body of the man is finished.' . . . Then he named this female form Hine-ahu-one (= the earth formed maid)."
Tane took Hine-ahu-one to wife. She first gave birth to Tikitohua the egg of a bird from which have sprung all the birds of the air. After that, Tiki-kapakapa was born a female. Then first was born for Tane a human child.
From another of the Maori tribes a briefer form is given. Tane took a tree to wife, but his offspring were trees, not men. He went, therefore, and took mud, and mixing it with sand upon the beach of Hawaiki, he made a figure of a woman from it. When he had formed her, he laid her down, covered her with garments, breathed into her mouth and left her; but after a while he returned, and found her moving and shaking and gazing on this side and on that to observe all that she could see. Looking behind her, she beheld Tane and laughed, so he put out his hand and took her, and made her his wife. A similar tale is found in the Society Group, according to which Tii made a woman from the earth at Ati-auru and dwelt with her, thus becoming the parent of a daughter, from whom and Tii-maaraatai all men are descended. Some form of this story seems also to have been current in the Marquesas, where again it is Tiki who thus creates a wife for himself from the sands of the shore.
A belief in the direct descent of man from the gods seems not to be so clearly or explicitly stated in the Maori myths, although references to this type do occur. In the Cook Group, three sons of Rongo are said to be the ancestors of all the peoples of Mangaia, though we are not told of the divine origin of their wives. The Marquesans appear also to have had a similar belief, since mankind was derived from Tii-tapu (the son of Tii, who was a descendant of Atea and Atanua) and Hina-ua.
Legends of this sort were current in Hawaii as well. In the long cosmogonic myth or chant already mentioned in speaking of the evolutionary type of creation-myths in Hawaii, man-kind, like the greater gods themselves, is the direct offspring of the Bright Light and Pleasant Quiet, for the female being of cosmic origin thus engendered is the parent both of gods and of Kii (= Tii = Tiki), the ancestor of all men by incestuous union with his mother. Another version 64 of what is apparently the same myth states that La'i-la'i, the first female being, was be-gotten of Po or Chaos. "The King who Opens the Heavens " (evidently a sky-deity), looking down, beheld her, and descending, took her to wife, and from these two all men are derived."
The most detailed form of the myth is, however, that from Tahiti. Hina, the daughter-wife of Taaroa said to him,"`What shall be done, how shall man be obtained? Behold, classed or fixed are the gods of the po, or state of night, and there are no men.' Taaroa . . . answered, `Go on the shore to the interior, to your brother.' Hina answered, `I have been inland, and he is not.' Taaroa then said, `Go to the sea, perhaps he is on the sea; or if on the land, he will be on the land.' . . . When the goddess had departed, Taaroa ruminated within himself as to the means by which man should be formed, and went to the land, where he assumed the appearance and substance which should constitute man. Hina, returning from her unsuccessful search . . . met him, but not knowing him said, `Who are you ?" I am Tii-maaraatai,' he replied. `Where have you been?' said the goddess. `I have sought you here, and you were not; I went to the sea to look for Tii-maaraatai, and he was not.' `I have been here in my house, . . . 'answered Tii-maaraatai, `and, behold you have arrived, my sister, come to me.' Hina said, `So it is you who are my brother; let us live together.' They became man and wife, and the son that Hina afterward bore they called Tii. He was the first-born of mankind."
A comparison of these various myths of the origin of man-kind shows the presence of no little confusion. Tiki or Tii is at once the first man, and the creator or progenitor of man; other myths do not speak of the first woman made by Tane as human, but as a deity, whose descendant, Hine-nui-a-te-po, becomes the guardian and goddess of the underworld; and many or most of the characters in the myths are nothing more than thinly disguised personifications of natural phenomena. All this obviously implies a confusion of the human and the divine theories of actual creation, influenced by the deep-seated desire to trace ancestry back to a divine source.
A transition to the last type of myths explaining the origin of the human race is afforded, in some senses, by a legend from New Zealand which apparently ascribes an independent origin to man. According to this, "an aquatic plant growing in swamps was the male procreating power which engendered the red clay seen in landslips, whence came the first man. This man was discovered by one of the gods before light had dawned on this world."
"Seeking, earnestly seeking in the gloom.
Inasmuch as the "man" thus discovered was the grand-father of him who separated heaven and earth, it is obvious that here again we have a confusion of terms, and that this man was not regarded as an ordinary human being in any sense, for his exploits are those of gods exploits, indeed, expressly attributed to Tane and other deities in variant myths.
In the comparison of the legends of the origin of the world it has been seen that Samoa presented special features, and in its most generally received version of the provenance of man it shows a similar individuality and offers the best form of the last of the types of myths relating to human origins. According to the Samoan tale, after Tangaroa had created the world by casting down a rock from heaven and had sent earth and creeping plants to cover it and give it shade, these vines died or were killed, and from the worms which killed them or into which their rotting stalks were changed man either developed or was made.
"The earliest traditions of the Samoans describe a time when the heavens alone were inhabited, and the earth covered over with water. Tangaloa, the great Polynesian Jupiter, then sent down his daughter in the form of a bird called the turi (a snipe), to search for a resting-place. After flying about for a long time, she found a rock partially above the surface of the water.
Turi went up and told her father that she had found but one spot on which she could rest. Tangaloa sent her down again to visit the place. She went to and fro repeatedly, and every time she went up reported that the dry surface was extending on all sides. He then sent her down with some earth and a creeping plant, as all was barren rock. She continued to visit the earth and return to the skies. Next visit, the plant was spreading. Next time, it was withered and decomposing. Next visit, it swarmed with worms. And the next time, the worms had become men and women!"
It should be noted that, according to one of these versions, when man was first made or evolved from the worms, he was "formless," the meaning apparently being that he did not yet have human shape. Outside of Samoa this myth does not occur in just this form, but in Tonga we find a tale describing the origin of man from worms scratched out of the sand by the sandpiper and left to rot in the sun. It was this bird which was the daughter of Taaroa in the Samoan myths, and which, in one version, brought to Taaroa the worms developed from the rotting vines that he might make them into man. Elsewhere in Polynesia we find little trace of this story, unless the fact that in the Society Group the first men were said to have been originally like a ball, their legs and arms being afterward pulled out, may be taken as comparable to the Samoan idea of an originally formless being. We shall see later that this conception of an amorphous being, afterward becoming human in shape, was also characteristic in parts of Indonesia and Australia.
Reference must be made to one other myth of the origin of mankind which, like the last, is confined to narrow limits, but whose affiliations run in quite a different direction. In the Chatham Islands (whose population, it will be remembered, represents largely a pre-Maori people) a myth has been recorded 78 which states that man originated miraculously from a clot of blood placed by two deities in a hollow tree. Elsewhere in Polynesia mankind is not ascribed to such a provenance, but in Samoa it is given in several myths as the mode of origin of minor deities. It is, however, a wide-spread myth of the source of mankind or of individual human beings in various parts of Melanesia and would thus seem to suggest an early Melanesian element in western Polynesia and the Chatham Islands. An origin-myth of a still different sort is that found in the little island of Nieue, which lies between Tonga and the Cook Group, according to which the first man was born from a tree; 76 and perhaps a trace of this same idea may be seen in the New Zealand myth 77 of Tane marrying a tree which gave birth to living beings and minor deities.
In discussing the legends relating to the origin of the world it has already been pointed out that analysis reveals complexity, and that comparison suggests relationship beyond the limits of Polynesia. It is equally clear that in the accounts given of the origin of man there is an equally complex series with similar suggestions of affiliation far afield. This diversity in type within the Polynesian area, and the wide ramification of similarities in the areas lying farther west, will, as we proceed, be found to be no less characteristic of almost all portions of Polynesian mythology.
In a previous section it has been shown how, among the Maori, an evolutionary or genealogical type of cosmogonic myth led up to the conception of a Sky Father and Earth Mother who were the parents of a great group of deities and even (in some versions) of man himself. We must follow this concept onward and trace the further experiences of the divine pair. According to the New Zealand belief, Rangi, the Sky Father, felt love for Papa-tu-a-nuku ("The Earth"), who lay beneath him, so he came down to Papa. At that time "absolute and complete darkness prevailed; there was no sun, no moon, no stars, no clouds, no light, no mist no ripples stirred the surface of ocean; no breath of air, a complete and absolute stillness." 78 And Rangi set plants and trees to cover the nakedness of Papa, for her body was bare, placing insects of all kinds appropriate to the various sorts of vegetation, and giving their stations to the shellfish and the crabs and various sorts of living things. Then Rangi clave unto Papa, the Earth Mother, and held her close in his embrace, and as he lay thus prone upon Papa, all his offspring of gods which were born to him, both great and small, were prisoned beneath his mighty form and lived cramped and herded together in darkness. "Because Rangi-nui over-laid and completely covered Papatua-nuku, the growth of all things could not mature, nor could anything bear fruit; . . . they were in an unstable condition, floating about the Ao-pouri [the world of darkness], and this was their appearance: some were crawling, . . . some were upright with arms held up, . . . some lying on their sides, .. . some on their backs, some were stooping, some with their heads bent down, some with legs drawn up, . . . some kneeling, . . . some feeling about in the dark, . . . they were all within the embrace of Rangi and Papa." 80 So for a long time the gods dwelt in darkness, but at last the desire came to them to better their condition, and for this purpose they planned to lift Rangi on high. The version of this myth of the raising of the sky, given by Sir George Grey, is one of the classics of Polynesian mythology, and deserves to be quoted almost in full.
"Darkness then rested upon the heaven and upon the earth, and they still. both clave together, for they had not yet been rent apart; and the children they had begotten were ever thinking amongst themselves what might be the difference between darkness and light; they knew that beings had multiplied and increased, and yet light had never broken upon them, but it ever continued dark. . . . At last the beings who had been begotten by Heaven and Earth, worn out by the continued darkness, consulted among themselves, saying, `Let us now determine what we should do with Rangi and Papa, whether it would be better to slay them or to rend them apart.' Then spake Tu-matauenga, the fiercest of the children of Heaven and Earth, `It is well, let us slay them.'
"Then spake Tane-mahuta, the father of forests and of all things that inhabit them, or that are constructed from trees, `Nay, not so. It is better to rend them apart, and to let the heaven stand far above us, and the earth lie under our feet. Let the sky become a stranger to us, but the earth remain close to us as our nursing mother.'
"The brothers all consented to this proposal, with the exception of Tawhiri-ma-tea, the father of winds and storms, and he, fearing that his kingdom was about to be overthrown, grieved greatly at the thought of his parents being torn apart. Five of the brothers willingly consented to the separation of their parents, but one of them would not agree to it.
But at length their plans having been agreed on, lo, Rongoma-tane, the god and father of the cultivated food of man, rises up, that he may rend apart the heavens and the earth; he struggles, but he rends them not apart. Lo, next Tangaroa, the god and father of fish and reptiles rises up, that he may rend apart the heavens and the earth, but he rends them not apart. Lo, next Haumia-tikitiki, the god and father of the food of man which springs up without cultivation, rises up and struggles, but ineffectually. Lo, then, Tu-matauenga, the god and father of fierce human beings, rises up and struggles, but he, too, fails in his efforts. Then, at last, slowly uprises Tanemahuta, the god and father of forests, of birds, and of insects, and he struggles with his parents; in vain he strives to rend them apart with his hands and arms. Lo, he pauses; his head is now firmly planted on his mother the earth, his feet he raises up and rests against his father the skies, he strains his back and limbs with mighty effort. Now are rent apart Rangi and Papa, and with cries and groans of wo they shriek aloud, 'Where-fore slay you thus your parents? Why commit you so dreadful a crime as to slay us, as to rend your parents apart?' But Tane-mahuta pauses not, he regards not their shrieks and cries; far, far beneath him he presses down the earth; far, far above him, he thrusts up the sky.
Up to this time, the vast Heaven has still ever remained separated from his spouse the Earth. Yet their mutual love still continues the soft warm sighs of her loving bosom still ever rise up to him, ascending from the woody mountains and valleys, and men call these mists; and the vast Heaven, as he mourns through the long nights his separation from his be-loved, drops frequent tears upon her bosom, and men seeing these, term them dewdrops."
Another Maori version 82 introduces several other elements. "Raki, though speared by Takaroa, still adhered to the top of Papa; and Raki said to Tane and his younger brothers, `Come and kill me, that men may live.' Tane said, `O old man! how shall we kill you?' Raki said, `O young man! lift me up above, that I may stand separate; that your mother may lie apart from me, that light may grow on you all.' Then Tane said to Raki, `O old man! Rehua shall carry you.' Raki answered Tane and his younger brothers, `O young men! do not let me be carried by your elder brothers only, lest my eyes become dim. Rather all of you carry me above, that I may be elevated, that light may dawn on you.' Tane said to him, `Yes, O old man! your plan is right that light may grow into day.' Raki said to Tane, `It is right, O Tane! that I be taken and killed (separated from my wife), that I may be-come a teacher to you and your younger brothers, and show you how to kill. If I die, then will light and day be in the world.' Tane was pleased with the reasons why his father wished them to kill him; and hence Tane said to another branch of the offspring of Raki ... `Tread on Papa, tread her down; and prop up Raki, lift him up above . . . that the eyes of Raki, who is standing here, may be satisfied.' . . . Now, this was the origin of the heaven. It was made by Tane and admired by him, and he uttered the words of his prayer to aid Rehua to carry their father above. . . . Tane now took Raki on his back; but he could put Raki no higher. Raki said to Tane, `You too, you and your younger brother (Paia) carry me.' Then Paia prayed his prayer, and said:
`Carry Raki on the back.
Now, Raki was raised with the aid of this prayer, and spoke words of poroporoaki (farewell) to Papa, and said, `O Papa! O! you remain here. This will be the (token) of my love to you; in the eighth month I will weep for you.' Hence the origin of the dew, this being the tears of Raki weeping for Papa. Raki again said to Papa, `O old woman! live where you are. In winter I will sigh for you.' This is the origin of ice. Then Papa spoke words of farewell to Raki, and said, `O old man! go, O Raki! and in summer I also will lament for you.' Hence the origin of mist, or the love of Papa for Raki.
"When the two had ended their words of farewell, Paia up-lifted Raki, and Tane placed his toko (pole) . . . between Papa and Raki. Paia did likewise with his toko. . . . Then Raki floated upwards, and a shout of approval was uttered by those up above, who said, `O Tu of the long face, lift up the mountain.' Such were the words shouted by the innumerable men (beings) from above in approval of the acts of Tane and Paia; but that burst of applause was mostly in recognition of Tane's having disconnected the heaven, and propped up its sides, and made them stable. He had stuffed up the cracks and chinks, so that Raki was completed and furnished, light arose and day began."
Similar but briefer versions of this same myth are found in the Chatham Islands, where the raising of the heavens was done by a being called "Heaven-Propper," the sky being lifted upon ten pillars, set one above the other. In the Cook Group, the raiser of the heavens was Ru. Originally the heavens were low, so low that they rested on the broad leaves of certain plants, and in this narrow space all the people of this world were pent up, but Ru sent for the gods of night and the gods of day to assist him in his work of raising the sky. He prayed to them, "Come, all of you, and help me to lift up the heavens." And when they came in answer to his call, he chanted the following song:
"O Son! O Son! Raise my son
The heavens were raised accordingly, and Ru then chanted the following song to secure the heavens in their place:
"Come, O Ru-taki-nuhu,
This conception, that the sky was originally low, resting on the leaves of plants, is also found in the Society Group, where Ruu is again the deity by whose aid the task of raising the heavens was accomplished. It likewise occurs in Samoa, and in somewhat similar form in the Union Group, whereas in Hawaii the incident of the separation of heaven and earth is referred to but vaguely and seems to play a very insignificant part in the beliefs of the people."
It will be observed that the idea of a Sky Father and Earth Mother, so characteristic in New Zealand, is lacking in central Polynesia. What is said is merely that once the sky was very low, and that one of the deities raised it to its present position. Now this form of the myth appears in the New Hebrides, where the heaven was said originally to have been so low that a woman struck it with her pestle as she was pounding food, whereupon she angrily told the sky to rise higher, and it did so. Almost identically the same type appears in the Philippines, and the simple theme of raising the heavens, which once were low, is frequent in several other parts of Indonesia as well as in the intervening area of Micronesia. It would seem, therefore, that the Maori form of the myth represents a special or locally developed form of this wide-spread theme, which reaches back almost without a break from central Polynesia to Indonesia.
In the foregoing legends of the raising of the sky this is accomplished by one or other of the gods, and it is clearly a cosmogonic feature, especially well brought out in New Zealand, as will be shown presently when the myths of the origin of the sun, moon, and stars are considered. The episode, how-ever, appears in parts of Polynesia in quite another aspect, i. e. as one of the exploits of the hero Maui, but since the Maui cycle will be treated in a special chapter, discussion of the place of this episode in it may best be postponed for the present. Nevertheless, it should here be noted that whereas in Hawaii the theme occurs only in connexion with Maui, in New Zealand it is known solely as a cosmogonic myth, while both forms are found in central Polynesia.
The myths of origin relating to the heavens and the earth having been outlined, there remain those regarding the provenance of the sun, moon, and stars, the sea, and other natural features. Turning again to the Maori account of the separation of Rangi and Papa, it appears that Tane's efforts did not cease with the parting of his parents, but that he sought to clothe and beautify them. "Tane saw that his father Raki was naked; so he went and obtained kura (red) to make his father look comely; but this did not suffice. He then went to bring the stars from . . . `The Mat of Dread' and `The Mat of the Sacred Holding' . . . stars were the fastenings of these mats... . Tane placed the stars on Raki in the daytime, but they were not beautiful; but at night his father Raki looked grand."
The sun and moon in the Maori myth seem generally to be regarded as Rangi's offspring 97 who were later placed for eyes in the sky, and similar beliefs prevailed in the Society Group 99 and in Samoa. In the Cook Group the sun and moon were said to be eyes of Vatea, and other versions 102 from this area give further details. According to these, Vatea and Tongaiti (or Tangaroa, by one version) quarrelled as to the parent-age of the first-born of Papa, each claiming to be the father, and to settle the dispute the child was cut in two, half being given to Vatea and half to Tonga-iti. Vatea took the upper portion, which was his, and threw it into the sky, where it became the sun, while Tonga-iti allowed his share, the lower half, to remain on the ground. Later, imitating Vatea, he also tossed his portion into the heavens, where it became the moon, but, owing to the fact that the blood had drained out of it and that it had partly decomposed, it shone with a paler light. The simple statement that the sun and moon were made by the deity is found in the Society Group, and little more seems to be recorded from Hawaii.
The origin of the sea, a feature of the environment of necessity particularly prominent for an island people, has already been mentioned in passing, but a few further points may well be added here. The conception of a primeval sea has been shown to be especially prevalent in central and western Polynesia, where we also find belief in the origin of the ocean from the sweat of Taaroa in his labours of creation. A variant appears in Samoa, where the sea is said to have arisen from the bursting of the ink-sack of the primeval octopus, but in the Marquesas, on the other hand, it is stated that the ocean was derived from the amniotic liquor when Atanua, the wife of the Heaven-Deity Atea, suffered a miscarriage. One other Samoan myth fragment relating to the origin of the sea is of interest as evidencing the Melanesian influence to be found on this western margin of Polynesia. According to this tale, the sea was originally concealed and kept shut up, but was later let out, the result being a flood. More detailed versions of this incident are wide-spread in Melanesia,'" whence this Samoan fragment was probably derived.
The evolutionary growth and origin of plants and trees in Hawaiian mythology has already been outlined, and Rangi's setting of plants and trees upon Papa in the Maori myth has also been noted, but some versions include a curious incident. According to these forms of the myth, Tame planted trees upon his mother, Earth, after the raising of Rangi. At first he set them with their heads (i. e. their roots) up and their feet down, but since he did not like their appearance he re-versed them, and placed them with their heads in the earth and their feet up. With this he was much pleased, and so they grow to this day. The unusual idea of trees having formerly been upside down may perhaps be connected with the frequent Indonesian and Micronesian 114 theme of the great tree hanging upside down in the sky, by whose branches men passed back and forth to the upper world.
The importance of flood-myths in Polynesia was apparently not very great. Deluge-episodes, of course, do occur; but so far as the published material goes, the floods referred to are merely incidents and, as a whole, minor incidents in other stories. For instance, Tawhaki is said to have caused a deluge by stamping on the floor of heaven, which cracked so that the waters flowed through and covered the earth; 116 or, again, his mother is recorded to have wept at the actions of her son, her tears falling to earth and flooding it, thus overwhelming all men; 117 while another version 118 declares that Tawhaki, wishing to be avenged for the attempt to kill him, called upon the gods to send a deluge to overwhelm the world after he and his friend had taken refuge on the top of a mountain. Of a similar type are the references in Hawaiian mythology to the "Sea of Kahinalii." According to this tale, Pele, the fire-goddess, once lived far to the south-west, but when her husband deserted her, she set out to try to find him. To aid her in the search, her parents gave her the sea to go with her and bear her canoes, and as she journeyed she poured forth the sea from her head, the waters rising until only the tops of the highest mountains were visible, but later retiring to their present level.
A somewhat more elaborate flood-myth is reported from Raiatea in the Society Group. According to this version, a fisherman once got his hook entangled in the hair of Ruahaku, a sea-god, who was asleep at the bottom of the sea, but when the man tried to pull in what he fancied to be a great fish, he so enraged the deity that he was about to destroy his disturber. The fisherman, however, begged for mercy, and the god finally agreed to spare him, but insisted on revenging himself upon the rest of the world. By Rua-haku's advice, the fisherman took refuge on an islet with a friend, a hog, a dog, and a couple of hens, and the sea then began to rise, continuing so to do until all the world was overflowed, and all the people had perished, after which the waters retired to their former level.
In Mangaia, in the Cook Group, a tale is told 121 of a conflict between Aokeu and Ake, a sea-deity. The two quarrelled as to which was the more powerful, and Ake, to show his might, caused the sea to rise and dash upon the land in great waves, while Aokeu made rain to fall in floods, so that, between the two, the island was covered, except for a small bit which protruded. Rangi (not the deity, apparently), the first king of Mangaia, took refuge on this fragment of dry land, and, alarmed lest he should be drowned, prayed to Rongo to aid him, whereupon the latter deity forced the two contestants to cease their display of power, and the deluge subsided.
The two legends which have been recorded from Samoa are of a somewhat different type in that they are more a part of the cosmogonic tales. According to one version, in early times there was a flood which destroyed all beings, except one man, Pili, and his wife, who took refuge on a rock, these survivors subsequently becoming the ancestors of mankind. Another form of the myth 124 states that when the flood came, Seve and a man called Pouniu alone saved themselves by swimming. Tangaloa saw them from the sky, and pitying their plight sent down two men from the heavens with hooks, who drew Samoa from under the sea to serve as a refuge for the two who were thus rescued.
Although there may be some question whether the end of the Raiatea story shows traces of missionary influence, all these flood-tales are probably aboriginal. As much cannot be said, however, for the versions from New Zealand, the Marquesas, and Hawaii, in all of which the Biblical parallel, extending even to names and details, is far too close to permit us to regard the tales as other than local adaptations of missionary teaching.