Open main menu

Wikipedia β


Hine-nui-te-pō ("Great woman of night") is a goddess of night and death and the ruler of the underworld in Māori mythology. She is the daughter of Tane Mahuta and Hine-ahuone. It is believed among tangata whenua that the color red in the sky comes from her.


All of the children of Rangi and Papa were male. It was Tāne who first felt the need for a wife and began to look for a companion. His mother, Papatūānuku, shared with Tane the magic of Kurawaka red soil. Tane moulded the red soil into female shape and breathed life into it. Hine-Ahuone was created and known for the first Earth-made Wahine Toa, Tane went on to marry Hine-Ahuone and birthed a daughter, Hine-Titama. One day, while Tāne was away, Hine-Titama began to wonder who her father was. She was disgusted and ashamed when she heard that her husband was also her father, and she ran away. When Tāne came back he was told that she had run off to the spirit-world, and he quickly followed after. But he was stopped from entering by Hine herself, in her new role as goddess of the underworld. "Go back, Tāne", she said to him, "and raise our children. Let me remain here to gather them in." So Tāne came back to the upper world, while Hine stayed below, waiting only for Māui to bring death into the world, and begin the never-ending procession of mortals to her realm (Biggs 1966:449).

Māui did the last of his tricks on her, attempting to make mankind immortal by trying to crawl through her body, entering in her vagina and leaving by her mouth while she slept, to reverse the path of birth. But one of his bird friends, the Pīwakawaka, laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, seeing Māui turned into a worm squirming to enter the goddess, and woke her. To punish the demi-god, she crushed him with the obsidian teeth in her vagina; Māui was the first man to die (Alpers 1964:70).

Her other husband is her paternal uncle Rūaumoko.

See alsoEdit


  • B.G. Biggs, 'Maori Myths and Traditions' in A. H. McLintock (editor), Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 3 Volumes. (Government Printer: Wellington), 1966, II:447-454.
  • Anthony Alpers, Maori Myths and Tribal Legends. Anckland : Longman Paul, 1964. ISBN 0-582-71674-8.