the maui story
AT THE CREATION OF THE WORLD
Ra, the god of light, and Hine, the goddess of darkness and death, call upon the children of the Earth (Papatuanuku) and Sky (Ranginui) to sever their parents' smothering embrace. Their success creates the first dawn of a new world.
THE BIRTH OF MAUI
Ages pass and mere mortals journey in and out of our earthly realm, becoming the ancestors that watch over us. Into this world, Taranga brings five sons.
The youngest is Maui, who dies as a baby. Hine, the goddess of death, rises from the spirit world to embrace the soul of the lifeless infant. But Taranga, in her grief, refuses to give up her baby to death. Instead, she wraps Maui in a lock of her hair and casts him into the waves.
UNDER THE SEA
The sons and daughters of the ocean god, Tangaroa, find the dead infant wrapped in the protective strands of his mother's dark hair. Also drawn to the baby, Ra (god of the sun) marshals the sea spirits to bring Maui back to life, plucking him from the jellyfish and adopting him into his godly kingdom.
Thwarted in her claim for Maui's spirit, Hine relinquishes the baby to Ra's care, while promising to welcome Maui at his death, just as she welcomes all mortal men.
IN THE REALM OF THE SUN-GOD
Ra schools Maui in the godly arts, teaching him an ancient prayer (karakia). In ignorance of his human limitations, Maui dares to wield Ra's sacred weapon (patu) and unwittingly conjures a vision of his mother, Taranga. Recognising the comb (heru) in her hair, the impulsive youth is inspired to go in search of his earthly roots.
ON THE BEACH
Returning to the land of his mother, Maui encounters his brothers at play. Unfamiliar with the customs of the mortal world, he offends them by refusing to take up their offering (taki) with respect. Unpractised at combat between mortals, Maui is beaten by his brothers.
Rejected and alone, Maui realises he is out of place both in the world of his mother, Taranga, and his adoptive father, Ra - a mortal raised by gods. In his despair, Maui has a vision of death, but is determined not to fail.
AROUND THE FIRE
Maui has an emotional reunion with his mother, which is later tempered by the realisation that his former tormentors are actually his older brothers. Taranga tries to welcome Maui by including him in a song that celebrates the family's sacred fire, but his brothers want nothing to do with him.
Snubbed again, Maui accidentally extinguishes his family's fire. When Taranga discovers that the sacred flame has been extinguished, she orders the brothers to fetch a new flame from the cavern of fire.
IN THE CAVERN OF FIRE
Maui's brothers eventually find the necessary courage to venture into the cavern of fire. However, their daring proves short-lived in the face of the menacing flames.
Alone in the cave, Maui captures the life of a flame with Ra's sacred patu (weapon). This transgression unleashes an inferno that threatens to engulf him.
Sensing his son's peril, Ra saves Maui by calling down snow to quell the firestorm. Anxious to protect his son, Ra urges Maui to return home with him. Torn between his loyalties to Ra and Taranga, Maui refuses.
Maui's brothers deliberately leave the outsider behind when they next go fishing, but the trickster stows away. The brothers refuse to offer him a hook or bait. However, determined to prove himself, Maui wipes his own blood on the sacred patu and, using the ancient prayer that Ra taught him, conjures the spirits to fish a great land from the sea.
BACK ON THE BEACH
Exhausted from his efforts, Maui is unable to prevent his envious brothers from carving up the new land. Tempers erupt. Maui is on the verge of killing one of his brothers when Hine is drawn to the scene. Sensing her presence, Maui stops short of the final blow and instead openly challenges Hine. Yet Ra again intercedes, this time to teach his wayward son a lesson.
IN THE FOREST
Bruised by Ra's punishment, Maui contemplates his destiny. In this moment of reflection, Taranga bestows on Maui the taiaha that symbolises leadership of the family.
Refusing to be cowed by the gods, the mighty warrior commits himself to humbling Ra. In fear and admiration, Maui's brothers join him in trapping the sun-god and seizing his powers.
IN THE AIR
Ra warns Maui of the folly of his actions, but Maui is emboldened by his success; he has stolen flame, fished up a mighty land and now rules the skies. Only the goddess of death stands between him and his dream of immortality.
Sensing that she will lose her youngest son, Taranga mourns his loss a second time.
IN THE UNDERWORLD
Three times Maui has defied Hine, leaving the crafty warrior confident of outwitting her again. In the underworld he confronts what will be his ultimate challenge as Hine welcomes him to her domain.