The creator god Ta'aroa appears in many myths from Polynesia, the vast region that includes hundreds of islands in the Pacific Ocean. In some parts of Polynesia, Ta'aroa is known by different names. In addition to his role as creator, he is often associated with the sea.
To the people of Tahiti, Ta'aroa is the supreme god of creation. Before the world was made, he lived inside a shell called Rumia (upset), until he tipped his shell and fell out into a dark void. He created a new shell and waited for ages before coming out again. Then he formed the earth from one of the shells and the sky from the other. He created the other deities as well as plants, animals, and people to fill the world. According to some versions of the story, Ta'aroa made the earth from his own body, forming soil from his flesh, mountains from his bones, and living things from his blood. Everything in the world came from Ta'aroa.
The people of Samoa call the god Tangaloa and say that he created the islands of Samoa by throwing down rocks from heaven.
* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.
The Maori of New Zealand call him Tangaroa, one of the children of the sky god and the earth goddess. The creator of the islands, Tangaroa is also the god of the ocean and its creatures.