Story: Te whānau tamariki – pregnancy and birth

Māui and his grandfather

Māui and his grandfather

The baby Māui is brought ashore by his grandfather Tama-nui-ki-te-rangi, still wrapped in his mother's topknot. In one tradition Māui was stillborn, or miscarried, and his mother Taranga wrapped him in her tikitiki (topknot) – this is how he got his name, Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga. Stillborn children were believed to become malignant spirits (atua kahukahu). Given the circumstances surrounding his birth it is not surprising that Māui was renowned for his supernatural feats.

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Reference: Eke Panuku 11. Wellington: Learning Media Ltd, 2004

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How to cite this page:

Hope Tupara, 'Te whānau tamariki – pregnancy and birth - Birth in Māori tradition', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/27619/maui-and-his-grandfather (accessed 26 August 2019)

Story by Hope Tupara, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Jun 2017