Io Matua Kore

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Creator of creators; Parentless one; Supreme being
Other names
  • Io-nui
  • Io-matua-te-kore
  • Io-te-waiora-o-ngā-mea-katoa
  • Io-taketake-o-ngā-mea-katoa
  • Io-matua-o-ngā-mea-katoa
  • Io-wānanga-o-ngā-rangi[1]

Io Matua Kore is often understood as the supreme being in Polynesian narrative, particularly of the Māori people. Whether he existed before or after Christian arrival is debated.

Io does seem to be present in the mythologies of other Polynesian islands including Hawai‘i, the Society Islands, and the Cook Islands.[1] He, or somebody else with his name, appears as a great-grandson of Tiki, and a father of another Io-rangi in Moriori mythology.[2]:106, 669


Io was first known generally with the publication in 1913 of Hoani Te Whatahoro Jury's book,[citation needed] translated by Percy Smith as The Lore of the Whāre-wananga.[3] The idea that the Io represented a pre-Christian understanding of "God" much like the Christian God would be propagated by Elsdon Best in his Maori Religion and Mythology.[4]

The Io tradition was initially rejected by scholars including prominent Māori scholar Te Rangi Hīroa (Peter Buck), who wrote, "The discovery of a supreme God named Io in New Zealand was a surprise to Māori and Pākehā alike."[5] Buck believed that the Io tradition was restricted to the Ngāti Kahungunu as a response to Christianity. Jonathan Z. Smith questions the motives behind the existence of such a book,[clarification needed] seeing this as a questionable emphasis of the idea around the Io.[6] Others such as James Cox argues that this "pre-Christian" understanding of a supreme god may in fact be due to the earlier Mormon missionary activities.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Moorfield, John C. "Io". Māori Dictionary. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  2. ^ Tregear, Edward (1891). The Maori-Polynesian comparative dictionary. Wellington: Lyon and Blair. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  3. ^ Whatahoro, Hoani Te (2011) [1913]. The Lore of the Whare-wānanga: Or Teachings of the Maori College on Religion, Cosmogony, and History. Translated by Smith, S. Percy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108040099.
  4. ^ Best, Elsdon (2005) [1924]. Māori Religion and Mythology: Being an Account of the Cosmogony, Anthropogeny, Religious Beliefs and Rites, Magic and Folk Lore of the Māori Folk of New Zealand. Te Papa Press. ISBN 9781877385063.
  5. ^ Hiroa, Te Rangi (1949). The Coming of the Maori. Wellington: Maori Purposes Fund Board.
  6. ^ Smith, Jonathan Z. (1982). Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown. University of Chicago Press. pp. 68–71. ISBN 9780226763606.
  7. ^ Cox, James (2014). The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies. Routledge. pp. 35–66. ISBN 9781317546030.