Ranginui and Papatuanuku, Cheyanne Bennett, 2016


A retelling: Since the beginning of time Rangi and Papa, the primordial parents, had been locked together in an eternal embrace. The children of their union, forced to live in the cramped space between their parents, grew weary of their confinement and conspired among themselves to separate their parents from one another in order that they may live fuller lives. After much deliberation, Tane, God of the forests,  uses his brute strength to tear his parents apart.

Rangi is exiled to the heavens, bereft of his beloved wife and children. His tears fall forever from the sky to remind the his wife of his eternal grief. Nourished by her husband’s tears, Papa cultivates the fruits of the earth and reaches towards the heavens. But it is only through their separation that there children can thrive, the earth can be filled with life and light, and that the circle of life can continue unbroken.

Little Bear, Hannah Tuck, 2013

I am little bear.

I can see my parents,

Even smell them and touch them,

But they are not here.

I can stare into their eyes and talk to them,

But our opposing realities collide.

I am an orphan,

Though not a boy.


I could not live with my clan,

It was not safe.

The workers they came

But they couldn’t quite tell

What had happened before

All hell broke loose.


They said I was safe off in the woods

But I was still trapped.

Can healing take place in a year’s time?

After 15 years of dream crushing,

Personality smashing, body taking,

Forcing rhythms of false family?


Sure I was a little bear.

But I was raging.

I was hungry for a fight.

Unable to go home

Because I am a warrior, resilient

I will breathe, stand tall, and sing.


And another 15 years has passed.

I remain in the woods

Unable to be close to those I was born to.

I don’t know whether healing is coming

Because wisdom from the elders

Has yet to be sought.


I am little bear

But I never went home

Because they are unwilling or unable

To keep their hands off my throat.

I am free and can breathe here.

I live here where I can sing.