Guardian of Death Introduction

The story of the origins of Hine Nui te Po, the guardian of death.

Guardian of Death

Tanematua took Hineahuone (as she was now called), for his wife. Their first born daughter was Hinetitama.

We now turn to the story of Hinetitama. Tanematua took her as a wife and in the Aonui month of the Orongonui season (Pipiri) she gave birth to Hinerauwharangi. After a while Hinetitama, watching her child with her husband, became curious as to who her father was, for she had no recollection of her father. She pondered on this for a few months and then asked Tanematua. He evasively referred her to the posts of her mother´s house.

A great dread came over Hinetitama as she began to suspect the truth and asked a second time. Tanematua did not reply, but made an unmistakable gesture. Hinetitama, so shocked, told Tanematua that she could not continue in the world of light but would seek the protection of her grandmother, Papatuanuku and would retire to the lower world.

Her reply epitomised her grief and abandonment, "The path of Tahekeroa to the lower world shall be layed down for all time. From the Muriwaihou I will look up to you and our offspring moving in the world."

Tanematua opposed her but Hinetitama, disillusioned and saddened, was determined to leave him. Her final words were full of foreboding to mankind, "Remain, O Tanematua to pull up our offspring to the day, while I go below to drag them down to night."

She chanted karakia which weakened the power of Tanematua and sent the children to sleep. Her last gift to him was the Adam´s apple which was placed in his throat in token of their relationship.

When all was quiet, she descended to the entrance of the lower worlds where Tutewatawata the guardian of Tatau o te Po greeted her and attempted to dissuade her from her purpose, but knowing the consequences Hinetitama remained firm and replied that her reason for going to the worlds below, was to protect her children of the Aoturoa.

Her actual words were, "Let me remain, that I may catch the living spirit of my descendants in the world of everlasting light."

This is how the world received its name Aoturoa. It was at this time that Hinetitama changed her name to Hinenuiitepo.

Never forget that Hinenuiitepo as a young woman fled from her shame and yet had a great unconditional love for her innocent offspring and all their descendants to come throughout the centuries. Although she first trod the path to Rarohenga, she still remains at the end of the path to welcome her children. The body of man perishes and decays but the wairua goes to Rarohenga to be looked after eternally by someone who once was of the world of light and because of circumstances became the Guardian of Death.

Tumatauenga is the guardian of wairua of man, Tanematua is the guardian of man in life and Hinenuiitepo is the guardian of man in death.
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