Pūrākau

So… Back in the day before humans, Tāne had separated his mother Papatuanuku and father Ranginui. He roamed the green forests that covered his mother seeking the feminine element so that he could create humans.

He asked his mother where to look. She told him to go to her pubic region, at Kurawaka, and find the red clay there.

Tāne went to Kurawaka and found the red clay. He formed a woman from the clay and breathed life into her, and she became the first human, Hineahuone.

It’s why our important buildings are painted ochre, from the flow of our mother earth and our ancestral mother’s connecting us all, all the way back.

Now we return our eyes to Ranginui, and the sky we must navigate to get to Papatuanuku’s sister, Matawhero and her red clay that awaits us.

We may or may not return, but our spirits will for Papatuanuku will forever be our Hawaiki.


A pūrākau is a mythopoetic way of encoding real knowledge and understanding that is updated over time and a memorable reliable way to transmit crucial information orally over time. The tale of Hineahuone and the origin of humans is deeply suggestive in ways we might frame journeys to Matawhero.

For Māori Mother Earth is not all the greenery surrounding us, but the deep red regolith when you dig down a bit. Matawhero, the red planet, call out to us from her red soil, awaiting the missing elements from Tāne and Tangaroa. It also demands that we respect Matawhero and consider her to be more than raw geology might suggest.

This framing also vividly centres the feminine and the aspects of it that traditional space communities are most adverse to, the blood of renewed fertility. This pūrākau encodes the vital importance of our mothers to our very existence, and of our planet to keeping us all alive. By embracing it we can take much healthier attitudes to our wider ecology with us as we venture into space.

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