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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



The Fish of Maui

Uneasy and suspicious because of Maui's magical powers, his brothers were loathe to have him accompany them fishing. Notwithstanding, Maui 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 Maui 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 Maui was no less than a portion of the earth. The canoe came aground and Maui 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 Maui, the fish of Maui. The fish hook, according to legend, became the cape which now forms the southernmost tip of Hawke's Bay.

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