Te Kore-The Void,The great nothingness

Often we view the darkness or black as something to be avoided. They can often signify a time where we cant see anything. We don’t know where we are, or where we are going. Spiritually there are many references to the Dark Night of the Soul. In Maori we talk about the great nothingness, Te Kore.

The site Te Ara says this

Te Kore – a world beyond

In traditional Māori belief there is something beyond the world of everyday experience: we do not live in a closed system where what we see is all there is. This other world or dimension is known as Te Kore, the ‘void’, in most tribal traditions.

Cleve Barlow has suggested that Te Kore means chaos – a state which has always existed and which contains ‘unlimited potential for being’. 1 Māori Marsden, a Tai Tokerau elder and Anglican minister, had a similar belief. He said that Te Korekore (a variant of Te Kore) was ‘the realm between non-being and being: that is the realm of potential being.’ 2

Some believe that Te Kore is where the ultimate reality can be found. Others think that it is where Io, the Supreme Being, dwells. The idea of Te Kore is central to notions of mana (status), tapu (sacred and restricted customs) and mauri (life force).

I like the reference above where they say ” It is the realm of Potential Being”.

Te Kore, the void is often seen as a place where nothing exists.

In the beginning there was nothing. Te Kore, the nothing.

The unknown nothing.

Unknown for there were none to know, Unknowing for there were none to know,

Limitless nothing. Infinite nothing.

And from nothing came night Te Po, the night.”

” The Children of Rangi and Papa- The Maori Story of Creation by Pauline Kahurangi Yearbury

Sometimes in our lives we come to this place. It like the space between our breaths. Where nothing exists. We pause and can sometimes become stuck in this darkness, seeing nothing there.

Why do we come into these dark nights? Because there is the potentiality of being. Because it is here that we have to awaken our creative powers. To connect to the creative urges and forces of the Universe that exist within us.

Black is the colour of the earth. The great mother. The ultimate creator. The blackness reminder of the black rich soil that looks bare, but once a seed is planted can grow so many things. Everything that is created in the Universe has started from nothing.

Te Kore contains nothing, but it also contains everything. It is a powerful place where the potential to create new things, and new lives exists. If we can connect with the divine light that exists in all things, through our seeking we can create a new universe for ourselves.

I love how the Universe outside in the physical mimics the spiritual reality inside ourselves. many scientists believe that black holes at the center of many galaxies may have led to it creation Nasa says this:

Stellar-mass black holes are left behind when a massive star explodes. These explosions distribute elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen that are necessary for life into space. Mergers between two neutron stars, two black holes, or a neutron star and black hole, similarly spread heavy elements around that may someday become part of new planets. The shock waves from stellar explosions may also trigger the formation of new stars and new solar systems. So, in some sense, we owe our existence on Earth to long-ago explosions and collision events that formed black holes.

On a larger scale, most galaxies seem to have supermassive black holes at their centers. The connection between the formation of these supermassive black holes and the formation of galaxies is still not understood. It is possible that a black hole could have played a role in the formation of our Milky Way galaxy. But this chicken-and-egg problem — that is, which came first, the galaxy or the black hole? — is one of the great puzzles of our universe.


What do we do when we can see nothing?

We learn to use our other senses. We learn to develop our intuition. We learn to develop our knowing.


In my meditations, when I see nothing, that does not mean that there is nothing there. I stand there and The Mother says ” What can you feel. I reach out my hands, and I may feel a rough surface, as I feel it, my inner sight awakens and provides me the knowledge of what it is I could not face.

On one such occasion when I was met with only blackness I felt The Mother goddess next to me.

“What can you feel?” The Mother asks me. I extend me senses and this time I feel Love.

“Love.” I say

” What else can you feel?” she asks again. I sense again , still I feel only Love.

” Love”

Again she asks me ” What do you feel now?” I reach my senses out, and feel love.

” Love” I said. Wondering if there was more that I could not feel.

“Love is all there is. Remember that.” The Mother replied.


When we find ourselves in Te Kore, it is like falling deep within ourselves. We think we know ourselves. When we fall it can be like landing into a different landscape. At first simply existing and feeling the presence of the darkness, and its black folds all around us. Until we are brave enough to venture forward. To activate the spirit of the adventurer that we have lost for whatever reason.

The text in Maori Lore Lists all the different types of Kore. The genealogy of Te Kore. If something is part of creation, then it has a creator and progeny. It was written in 1904. And one cannot help but feel the colonial influence, try as they might to record this information successfully, using words such as alleges colours the feeling ( or lack of what is bein shared in its enormity)

The kore in Maori mythology represents the primal power- the great first cause- of the universe. Although the void- the ethereal space- absolute nothingness, the kore nevertheless contained the elements and forces of all things that were to be- that were still unborn. The process of evolution has been detailed as follows: Te Kore ( The Void- the Negation), Te Kore-tui-tahi ( The First Void) Te Kore-tua-rua ( The Second Void), Kore-nui ( The Great Void), Kore-whi-whia, Kore-rawea, Kore-tamaua ( Fast-bound Void) Te Mangu( the Black Void)-ten voids in all. Te Mangu, one of the principal powers of the cosmos was alleged to be a son of Kore-te-tamaua. Not within reason the proper name is alleged to be Maku, which signifies moisture. The union of Te Mangu with Mahorahora-nui-a-rangi ( the Vast Expanse of Heaven) was productive of the four toko, or props by which the the heavens are supported. Some of the kore were believed to be of human form- Po, Ao, and so were personal deities. Time was also divided into a series of spaces extending from the inauguration of the lowest forms of life to time illimitable, each space being held equivalent to one thousand years. The ran as follows: Te Kore ( Void); Te Po ( Darkness and The lower World); Te Rapunga (Seeking) Whaia ( Following on); Te Kukune ( Conception of Thought); Te Pupuke( Enlarging) : Te Hihuri ( breathing, or Godly power); Te Mahara ( Thought); Te Hinegaro ( Spirit Life); Te Manako ( Desire); Te Wananga ( Holy Spirit- supernatural power- or the abode of deity) Te Ahua( Form of beauty when in the spirit – Glory); Te Atama ( Love in Force- coming into good; Te Whiwhia ( Possessing); kawea- ( Delightful); Hope tu ( Possessing power) ; Hau Ora ( Breath of Life) ; Atea ( Space, void, Nothingness; Te Ao teretere noa ana ( the world floating in space, lay between Papa [tuanuku] the Earth and Rangi ( the heavens) who were the first parents [ and so on]…

… A second genealogy of the gods, time spaces, heavens, alleges that the kore sprang from the first ( Kore-tuatahi) to the tenth ( Kore-tuanga-hurie), hundredth ( Kore-tuarau). In thousandth ( Kore-tuamano), countless ( Kore-tuatani), in both of these cosmogenies Po( Night or the world of the Unsees) is made to precede the Void.

By a third genealogy God is alleged to have commenced His chant of the order of creation at Te Po, and sang: Po begat Te Ao (Light), who again begat Ao-marama ( daylight) who again begat Kore-whiawhia, Kore-te Rawea, Kore-te-tanama, Kore-te-matua-Maku, Mahoranui-a-tea-Raki.

Maori Lore The tradtions of the Maori People More important of their legends. James Izett. 1904

Witi Ihimaera puts it more eloquently in his book how kore kept changing

Maori gave names to nine of the changes and because they liked to think genealogically, one of the ways the process was described was that each kore gave birth to the next. The first nothing was the parent of the second nothing. The second nothing gave birth to the third and so on. At every birth the nothing became larger, longer, it stretched and expanded, lengthened and deepened, wove itself together and became stronger…

… New Zealand scholar Agathe Thornton, for instance saw parallels between Te Kore and Chaos, which was the time and place from which the Greeks thought existence sprang. In her book Maori Oral Literature; As seen by a Classicist, Thornton wrote that out of Chaos rose two entities Erebus ( darkness) and Nyx ( Night). Something similar happened in the Maori genesis which led to the very important and stunning arrival into Maori genealogy of our first and most ancient deities…

Navigating the Stars, Maori Creation Myths- Witi Ihamaera pg 22, 23

I saw the dark Mother. I followed her into the blackness. She showed me that within the darkness there were shelves, compartments, a place where an order existed.

I was surprised as I had thought of the Void as a somewhat random, or as others have suggested a place where Chaos exists. But as I was shown, and as we can see by the genealogies above, that within the darkness of the Void, or of Te kore there is an order. There are compartments, or divisions. It may appear random, but within Maori cosmology it clearly has its own order.

What does this mean to those who experience it? That just like a new country, we can master its ways. We can learn its secrets, we can untap its power of creation.

To me it is a place deep inside myself. The place where the Goddesses reside. The place where my strength and power springs from. A place where I learn to face my fears and become fearless.

Witi Ihamaera then goes on to describes beautifully Te Mangu ( as The Blackness) and Mahora-nui-a-rangi ( as possessing infinite capacities from heaven). He states that “Indeed her appearance may well mark the beginning of te ara awhia, the pathway by which the female element arrived in the Maori Genesis- perhaps she was our Nyx.”

He names the four Poles- Tokomua ( elder prop) , Tokoroto( middle prop), Tokopa ( end prop) and Rangi-potiki ( Rangi the youngest born) explaining that the word toko means to prop up.

Witi Ihamaera’s description brings to life this stage in a visual way- “In this way the old people visualised Te Kore as a where a vast and wondrous wharenui was under construction. The communal house had the beginnings of a framework but floated without walls, roof or ceiling. It was a place where everything was possible and anything could happen”

Now this sounds more like The Void I am familiar with.

Next came Te Po the night. here again there are many nights- As many as 21 different Te PO. We are starting to see the order of the Universe within the darkness. Some became the 12 heavens ( the number differs) The others headed towards Te Ao the light. He describes the process of Te Kore , Te Po, and Te Ao as “phenomena that were interlacing, weaving, and combining their energies.”

And lastly he says” The meeting house had to exist forever so, working with fluid time -or wa- a fourth dimension was added to the building to enable the construction to exist in the past and future as well as the present. It was actually more complicated than that as Maori believed in time as a flowing continuum that went backwards as well as forwards, sideways and down, everywhere and anywhere. Think of time as water particles that all flow in a river, evaporate into the air and rain down to the river again, being breathed in and out, constantly being present and cycling through the different stages.”pg 28

That certainly sums us another dimension. It multifaceted areas, its timelessness.

This Video from Te Papa shows the creative spirit of te Kore, in a way that words cannot express. As it is more than words on the page, it is a feeling, a living energy, vibrant, pulsing, a being.

Short movie from national museum Te Papa – Wellington, New Zealand about Maori traditional creation story.

I am so grateful for the Maori writers and artists that are bringing our stories to life, far from the dried narratives of the Colonials . All of which prove, that these concepts, are timeless. As even without books, they existed in our ancestors art, in their weavings, in their buildings, and most of all within ourselves.

One thought on “Te Kore-The Void,The great nothingness

  1. Pingback: Te Kore-The Void,The great nothingness – infinitereality reconnects to the resonance now (she was never an island)

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