In the beginning was Te Kore or The Nothing. Te Kore existed in a state of timeless perfection until it give birth to the First Nothing, and by this act set in motion the process of creation which resulted after many aeons in the emergence of Rangi and Papa, the original parents of gods and men, and the first in the long line of created beings.
Rangi and Papa clung together in a close embrace, and soon they had given birth to six male children. The children began to grow, and it was not long before they began to resent being confined between their parents' bodies. They longed for space and light, which they sensed they would enjoy once they were free.
And so they plotted to separate their parents and bring about the world order that is still in existence today. The plotters were the six sons: Tawhirimatea, the god of the winds; Tane, the god of the forests; Tu, the god of war; Tangaroa, the god of the sea; Rongo, the god of the kumara (sweet potato); and Haumia, the god of the fern root.
Legend has it that the brothers quarrelled violently, and that Tawhirimatea was opposed to the separation, and that when it was over he decided to make his home in the sky with his father Rangi. The thunder and lightning are signs that he is still angry.
The act of separation was performed by Tane, who forced Rangi upwards with his feet, while his hands pressed against the ground. This act is plainly symbolic of the growth of a tree: the legs and feet are the branches, while the hands are the roots.
Rangi (the sky) and Papa (the earth) were finally separated and they have remained thus ever since. The falling rain and the rising mist are signs that they are still mourning for each other.
The gods next set about creating the creatures and plants of earth; and finally, they turned their attention to man. But they themselves were all male; therefore they had to create a female. They did this by taking clay from the body of their mother, Papa, and making a figure that resembled themselves.
It was left to Tane to breathe life into the nostrils of this first woman, and later, to marry her daughter, Hinetitama, the Dawn Maiden, from whom the human race has descended.