New Zealand has many fantastic myths that revolve around Maori mythology. But the legend of Maui is by far my favourite, and according to many authors like Ranginui Walker, Maui is the most important hero for Maori mythology. He was allegedly aborted by his mother and abandoned at sea, however, Maui survived and returned to her mother. She welcomed him back and allowed him to sleep with her during the night, but the next day, she was gone again. This pushed Maui to want to search for her parents once again.
|Maui the Maori hero. Source: http://warrenpohatu.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/maui-tikitiki-taranga.html|
This search for the parental connections is representative of how Maori people view their whakapapa (genealogy) and how important it is for their identity. In his quest back home, Maui fashioned a hook out of his bone to be able to maester the sea which threatened him with tempest and storms, in doing this he pulled a great fish from the bottom of the ocean. That great fish is now considered to be New Zealand’s North Island.
A really important trait about Maui is that he was the youngest child of five, who in Maori culture is considered to be a smart, cunning, precocious child. This is also why Maui’s actions are so heroic: he was supposed to be a spoiled child with little responsibility and yet, he managed to accomplish great feats.
|A child’s representation of Maui holding his hook. Source: http://questgarden.com/46/01/4/070427222552/conclusion.htm|
Last but not least, it is important that people know that Maui is not just a famous figure in New Zealand, but also across the Pacific Islands region, especially for Hawaii, that is where the name of the second largest Hawaiian island comes from. I bet you didn’t know that.