Oil on Canvas
800mm x 1200mm
Ranginui and Papatuanuku are the primordial parents, the sky father and the earth mother who lie locked together in a tight embrace. They have many children all of whom are male, who are forced to live in the cramped darkness between them. These children grow and discuss among themselves what it would be like to live in the light. Tūmatauenga, the fiercest of the children, proposes that the best solution to their predicament is to kill their parents.
But his brother Tāne disagrees, suggesting that it is better to push them apart, to let Ranginui be as a stranger to them in the sky above while Papatuanuku will remain below to nurture them. The others put their plans into action—Rongo, the god of cultivated food, tries to push his parents apart, then Tangaroa, the god of the sea, and his sibling Haumia-tiketike, the god of wild food, join him. In spite of their joint efforts Rangi and Papa remain close together in their loving embrace. After many attempts Tāne, god of forests and birds, forces his parents apart. Instead of standing upright and pushing with his hands as his brothers have done, he lies on his back and pushes with his strong legs. Stretching every sinew Tāne pushes and pushes until, with cries of grief and surprise, Ranginui and Papatuanuku were pried apart.
This painting has been depicted as two men in the construction that love is love regardless of sexual identity.
Ranginui and Papatuanuku (Depicted as two Men)