Creation Myths of the Pacific

Australian Aboriginal
Aboriginal people have diverse cultures and mythology, so there is no single creation story. The most commonly-known story is the tradition of the Dreamtime, the time before history when the gods created the world. Other traditions hold that the earth is eternal, and has always been here, though it has changed.

Hawaiian
Pele followed a Northeastern star until she found a high mountain rising out of the ocean. She looked at the smoky haze around the mountain peak, and knew she was home. She named her new island Hawaii.

Pele was determined to make her home at Kilauea. The fire god ‘Ailaau also wanted to live there. The battle was on as the two threw fire balls at each other. Pele emerged victorious, and the fire god fled underground, where he lives in caverns.

Pele dreamed of Lohi’au, chief of a nearby island, and fell in love. She sent her sister to fetch the handsome chief, giving her 40 days to accomplish the task. If her sister failed, Pele would punish the sister’s friend.

The sister, Hi’iaka, arrived on the island to find the chief dead. Chanting to the gods for assistance, she rubbed his body with herbs. It worked, and the chief came back to life. Grateful for the help, he agreed to return to Hawaii with her.

In the meantime, the forty days had elapsed. A furious Pele caused a volcanic eruption, turning Hi’iaka’s friend into stone. Hi’iaka wanted revenge, so she took Chief Lohi’au to the edge of a crater, where Pele could see them clearly, then embraced him. Pele was incensed, and covered the chief with flames and lava.

Each sister had lost someone they loved. Pele brought the chief back to life so he could choose between her and her sister. Lohi’au chose Hi’iaka as his wife. Pele gave them her blessing, then the lovers returned to Kaua’i. Pele remains on the Big Island, Hawaii, the goddess of fire and volcanoes.

Maori
Long ago, the Sky Father and Earth Mother lay together, embracing each other closely. Their children lived in darkness, trapped between the bodies of their parents. The children pushed and shoved until the parents were separated unwillingly, and the Earth and Sky have mourned each other ever since. The Sky Father’s tears fall on the Earth as rain, evidence of his love for her. As the mists rise from Mother Earth, her body yearns for him while nurturing mankind.

Tagalog
Many years ago, the Sky and Sea collided, creating three gods – Bathala, ruler of the Sky; Aman Sinaya, ruler of the Sea; and Amihan, the North Wind, who ruled the realm in between.

The gods of Sea and Sky battled for dominance. When Aman Sinaya threw a tempest into the sky, Bathala responded by throwing giant boulders to make her stop, making thousands of islands in the Philippines. The situation continued to escalate until Amihan intervened, flying back and forth until the Sea and Sky got close to one another. The two realms met, and the gods stopped their warring ways.

Bathala planted a seed in the ocean floor, a sign of his friendship with the Sea. Amihan heard voices from the reed one day, and stopped to investigate. He pecked the reed, which cracked open to reveal a man, Malakas (“strong”) and a woman, Maganda (“beautiful”). He flew them to a nearby island where they built a home, then raised a family. All of the people in the world are descended from this original man and woman.