Te Kura Te Reo

Activity 2 - Te Ika-a-Māui

Read  the Legend of Te Ika-a-Māui ('The Fish of Māui').


Uneasy and suspicious because of Māui's magical powers, his brothers were loathe to have him accompany them fishing. Notwithstanding, Māui hid himself in the bottom of their canoe armed with an enchanted hook which had been shaped by the famous jawbone. He did not emerge until they were well out to sea and then urged his companions to go yet further and still further.

At length a halt was made, the fishing began, and soon the canoe was filled with the catch. The brothers now wished to return but Māui desired to try his luck. He had no bait and the others refused to give him any; however, undeterred, he struck his nose and smeared the blood which gushed over the magic hook. This hook caught the home of Tonga-nui, grandson of Tangaroa, god of the ocean, and the fish that was hanging from the line of Mäui was no less than a portion of the earth.

The canoe came aground and Māui left his brothers with strict instructions neither to eat nor cut up the fish until he had made appropriate prayers and offerings to the gods. But the brothers disregarded these warnings, with the result that the fish started to toss about – hence the unevenness of the land today. This is now known as the North Island of New Zealand or Te Ika-a-Māui, the fish of Māui. The fish hook, according to legend, became the cape which now forms the southernmost tip of Hawke's Bay.

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