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Quest for Knowledge Introduction

The quest for the three baskets of knowledge

Quest for Knowledge

The struggle for power began when Io sent Rehua and Ruatau to make preliminary inquires amongst the children of Ranginui and Papatuanuku. The purpose of this was to find somebody who was worthy of obtaining the three baskets of knowledge. These two chose Tanenuiarangi and Tupai, then Rehua and Ruatau returned to Io.

Ruatau then returned with Aitupawa to confirm the choice, visiting various homes of the Kaitiaki to make their purpose known. Whirotetipua volunteered stating he would obtain the wananga by climbing up the sides of the overworlds, but Aitupawa abruptly informed him that the highest overworld could not be obtained that way. Tanenuiarangi proposed to ascend by means of whirlwinds, by the way of Aratiatia and the Toihuarewa of Tawhirimatea. This met with the approval of Ruatau and Aitupawa and they reindorsed Tanenuiarangi. Whirotetipua was once again insulted, as another younger brother had been chosen over him. For Whirotetipua is the sixth child of Ranginui and Papatuanuku and felt that it was wrong that not only himself but his older brothers had also been overlooked.

Meanwhile Tanenuiarangi was giving the matter considerable thought regarding the appropriate preparations required to receive the esoteric knowledge. He journeyed to Rangitamuku the eleventh of the twelve overworlds where the sacred house, Wharekura, had been built by Ruaitepukenga, a being, not unlike the Kaitiaki, with an extraordinary amount of knowledge. After studying the design he returned to Papatuanuku and constructed a similar house as a Whare Wananga (a house to contain the sacred knowledge). He named it Wharekura after its prototype. Once this was completed, the Kotuku rerenga tahi appeared and recognising it as a tohu, Tanenuiarangi began his ascent into the overworlds accompanied by Tupai, Tawhirimatea, Tukapua and others. They were carried upwards by the Whanau-Puhi (Children of the Wind), while Whirotetipua made his laborious ascent by the Taepatanga and endeavoured to defeat them in a long series of battles know collectively as Paerangi.

When Tanenuiarangi reached Rangiparauri, the tenth overworld, Whirotetipua was still in Rangitamuku, the eleventh overworld. Whirotetipua launched his first assault, sending the Whanau-Akaaka to attack the party. They were defeated by the Whanau-Puhi. When Whirotetipua reached Rangiparauri, the party of Tanenuiarangi were still ahead and Whirotetipua knowing that he could not catch up sent the Tini-o-Poto. This group made a determined attack but were swept away by the great gales called the Tini-o-Parauri.

Tanenuiarangi upon reaching Rangi-Naonao-Ariki, (the third overworld), was taken charge of by Kautu and Tapuhikura. The others that had travelled thus far with Tanenuiarangi returned to Papatuanuku knowing that the tapu of these vast heights would be too much to endure. After going through the Pure rite, he moved up into Tiritiri-o-Matangi. Passing through here he entered Te Pu Motomoto o Tawhirirangi (the Guard House to Tikitiki-o-nga Rangi - the first overworld). After going through more Pure rites, he was ready to enter into Rangiatea. It was here that he received the Three Baskets of Knowledge, that are named as follows:

Ko te kete tuatahi Ko te kete tuauri Ko te kete uruuru matua
Ko te kete tuarua Ko te kete tuatea Ko te kete uruuru rangi
Ko te kete tuatoru Ko te kete aronui Ko te kete uruuru tau



The first basket contained karakia pertaining to the conduct to all things connected with Ranginui and Papatuanuku, and also the departments of things connected with their children.

The second basket contained the balance to the first basket.

The third basket contained all actions pertaining to the knowledge of arts by means of which would benefit humankind.

Tanenuiarangi along with the three baskets of knowledge received two stones - their names being Rehutai and Hukatai. These two stones would be the true ethos of Whare Wananga for all time.

When Tanenuiarangi entered back onto this world the sky flushed with glowing crimson as a tohu of his victory. Entering Wharekura, Whirotetipua put in an appearance demanding that the trophies should be given into his keeping. Urutengangana advised him to leave Tanenuiarangi alone as he had acquired the Kauwaerunga.

And so the knowledge that humankind needed to survive came into this world. The next time you see the whakawherowhero reflect on what it means.


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