There are three states of evolution or progression of creation:
- Te Kore; energy, potential, the void, nothingness.
- Te Po; form, the dark, the night.
- Te Ao-marama; emergence, light and reality, dwelling place of humans.
This Māori creation stories help us understand the beginnings and origins of life, in a artistic way. The following video is Dr Moana Nepia discussing the Māori concept of void as a kaupapa (a principle or policy) for creative practice.
It begins with Te Kore, the void of unlimited potential in which nothing exists. From there comes Te Pō, aeons of darkness and night. Finally, from Te Pō emerges Te Ao, the light and the world.
Long before the embrace of sky father Ranginui with earth mother Papatūānuku, before the gods of the natural world emerged, and before life began, there was Te Kore, the void.
As the sun rises each morning and sets each evening, the world follows a daily cycle of light (Te Ao) and darkness (Te Pō). Māori creation stories emphasise this movement from nothingness and darkness to the world of light – Te Ao Mārama. It is said that the world itself is created each morning with the rise of the sun. This video is a good representation when visualising the mythical story.
Te Kore – a world beyond
In traditional Māori belief there is something beyond the world of everyday experience: we do not live in a closed system where what we see is all there is. This other world or dimension is known as Te Kore, the ‘void’, in most tribal traditions.
Cleve Barlow has suggested that Te Kore means chaos – a state which has always existed and which contains ‘unlimited potential for being’. 1 Māori Marsden, a Tai Tokerau elder and Anglican minister, had a similar belief. He said that Te Korekore (a variant of Te Kore) was ‘the realm between non-being and being: that is the realm of potential being.’.
Some believe that Te Kore is where the ultimate reality can be found. Others think that it is where Io, the Supreme Being, dwells. The idea of Te Kore is central to notions of mana (status), tapu (sacred and restricted customs) and mauri (life force).
Na Te Kore, Te Pō
Ki te Whai-Ao
Ki te Ao-Mārama
From the void, the night
To the glimmer of dawn
To the bright light of day
There is life
From master storyteller Witi Ihimaera, a spellbinding and provocative retelling of traditional Maori myths for the 21st century.
In this milestone volume Ihimaera traces the history of the Maori people through their creation myths. He follows Tawhaki up the vines into the firmament, Hine-titama down into the land of the dead, Maui to the ends of the earth, and giants and turehu who sailed across the ocean to our shores. From Hawaiki to Aotearoa, the ancient navigators brought their myths while looking for the stars, bright with gods, ancestors and stories to guide the way.