Io Matua Kore

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Io Matua Kore is often understood as the supreme being[1] in Polynesian narrative of the Māori people of New Zealand.[2]


Io was first known generally with the publication in 1913 of Hoani Te Whatahoro's book, 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, seeing this as a questionable emphasis of the idea around the Io.[6][clarification needed] 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.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maori Dictionary
  2. ^ a b Cox, James (2014). The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies. Routledge. pp. 35–66. ISBN 9781317546030.
  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. ^ Te Rangi Hiroa (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.

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