Io Matua Kore

Io Matua Kore

Io Matua Kore (Māori for "Io the Parentless who was always existent without beginning or end") is in some Māori traditions the supreme god.

The Io tradition was restricted to only the highest _mi. "Tohunga" ("priest" or "expert", the Māori equivalent of the Hawaiian "Kahuna"). According to Nga Puhi reverend Māori Marsden who received the Io tradition from his grandfather, Io is::"both Being-itself and absolute Nothingness. That is, He is truly infinite, encompassing within himself both the absolutely Positive and absolutely Negative."

Māori Marsden's grandfather was born in about 1790, was a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi and died in 1908. Māori Marsden himself was tohied, 'consecrated and dedicated', by a group of elders when he was about 8 years old. The Io tradition could be interpreted as a belief of Non-Dualism/Monism and similar to the idea described variously as the Void, the Is, Emptiness, or the mind of God.

Io lived eternally in _mi. "i te korekore", "the absolute nothingness". The _mi. "Korekore" is a double negative, a double _mi. "kore". According to Māori Marsden, to the Māori mind, the doubling of kore. meant:"…not simply 'non-being', or annihilating nothingness, though it includes this meaning, but it went beyond this. By means of a thorough-going negativity, the negation itself turns into the most positive activity. It is the negation of negation. Te Korekore is the infinite realm of the formless and undifferentiated. It is the realm not so much of 'non-being' but rather of 'potential being'. It is the realm of Primal and Latent energy from which the stuff of the Universe proceeds and from which all things evolve."


Io was first known generally with the publication in 1913 of Percy S. Smith's two volume work "The Lore of the Whāre-wananga", and from some of the writing.

Two esteemed tohunga 'priests', of the East Coast Ngāti Kahungunu people, Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohuhu gave a series of lectures at a _mi. "whare wananga" ("school of learning"), in the Wairarapa district in 1865. H. T. Whatahoro over a period of 40 years wrote down, developed and rewrote these lectures. Whatahoro's text was approved by the Tane-nui-a-rangi Committee in 1907 as an agreed expression of genuine Ngaati Kahungunu tradition in that year. (Not necessarily a tradition known by the general population of Ngaati Kahungunu.)

The Io tradition was initially rejected by scholars including prominent Māori scholar Sir Peter Buck who wrote "The discovery of a supreme God named Io in New Zealand was a surprise to Māori and Pākehā alike." Buck believed that the Io tradition was restricted to the Ngaati Kahungunu as a response of Christianity.

J. Prytz Johansen also rejects the Io tradition as existing before the introduction of Christianity to Māori. "All things considered there is the greatest probability that Io became a high god after the Europeans came to New Zealand." He does argue, though, that if there were other pieces of evidence "independent of one another, the pre-European existence of the high-god Io would be assured" because of the distance of the tribes from one another. Both Buck's and Johansen's arguments based on their idea of the Io tradition being exclusive to Ngaati Kahungnu appear to be wrong due to the tradition existing in other unrelated Iwi (tribes).

The Waikato, Kāi Tahu, and Ngaa Puhi also have traditions of Io, including multiple distinct sources within singular tribes. The Nga Puhi are based at the top of the North Island of New Zealand while the Kāi Tahu are based in the South Island, and spoke significantly different dialects of Māori. Due to the lack of contact between some of these tribes one could speculate that the Io tradition must be very old.

There is also a similar Hawaiian tradition with Io, Keawe, IAO, Kela, Tera. to support the idea of an ancient Io tradition.

See also

* Polynesian mythology
* Kiho-tumu

External links

* [ The Nga Puhi oral tradition of Io]
* [ "The Lore of the Whāre-wananga"]

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