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Maui (mythology)

For the Hawaiian island, named after the god described below, click here.


In Polynesian mythology, and especially in New Zealand and Hawaii, Maui is an extremely powerful god, for whom the island of Maui was named. At one point, he was married to Rohe, but she left him and became Queen of Uranga-o-Te-Ra, the fifth level of the underworld. Maui was one of the Kupua.

In AoTeAroa, he was an excellent fisherman who used a hook made from an ancestor's jawbone and his blood from his nose as a bait, he caught the porch of a house on the ocean floor. He managed to pull it up and it was called Te Ika-Amaaui

In Hawaii, Maui was a son of Hina, who once complained that the sun moved too fast. Maui lassoed the sun (Mahu-ike or Tama Nui-Te-Ra) with a rope (made from flax or his sister's hair) and made it promise to go slower. On the island of Maui, the mountain that he caught the sun on is called Haleakala[?] ("house of the sun"). He was personified by a hawk and stole fire, burning the hawk's tail feathers their dark brown.

In an alternate version of his parentage, Maui was a son of Makea-Tutara and Taranga. He was born prematurely, so she wrapped his body in her hair laid him by the waves. Some sea-creatures cared for him, hiding him in kelp until a storm sent him back to the beach. His ancestor, Tama-Rangi[?], found him and brought him back to life, and educated him.

Maui wandered into a meeting house one day and recognized his brothers, who stood behind their mother. Taranga did know who she was until he reminded him. The next morning, Taranga disappeared and he found her in the underworld. Taking the shape of a wood pigeon[?], Maui descended after her and found her with his father, Makea-Tutara, the king of the underworld. Taranga introduced them and he prophesied that Maui would be a great hero, then tried and failed at making him immortal.

In a story of the Maori, Maui attempted to achieve immortality for himself and all of mankind by crawling through the Hine-nui-te-Po's (the goddess of death) body while she slept. She awoke because a songbird laughed, and Maui was crushed to death by her vagina; he was the first man to die.

Maui also reigned in the winds. They were, in order of his establishment of control, Tua-Uo-Loa, Matuu, Mata Upola, Tonga. He allowed the gentle breeze, Fisaga, to remain free.

Alternative: Maaui-tikitiki ("Maui the top-knot" in AoTeAroa), Maaui, Maui-Potiki ("Maui the last born")



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