Polynesian Culture

by Sean N. Bennett


Maui is the most famous and colorful characters in Polynesia. He joins all the Polynesians together. He is known as the most famous Polynesian salor and explorer because he fished up many of the Polynesian islands. Maui is known in Samoan legands as Tietie-i-Talaga. He was the son of Moeatu and Talaga. When he was born his mother threw him into the sea to get rid of him; but the God spared his life. An old man nursed him. Tietie-i-Talaga, riding on the shoulders of Talaga. So that was how his life was spared.

Carving of Maui fishing the islands - Polynesian Cultural Center - Laie, Hawaii. Picture taken by Sean Bennett

Samoan Legend

One day, Tietie-i-Talaga followed his father who was a servant for the great giant, Mafuie who cooked his food with fire. Maui's father begged him not to come with him but to stay home but it was to no avail. Maui followed his father. He stayed until he discovered the breakfast of the great giant, Mafuie, whose meat, which was cooked, was delicious to the taste.

When the giante discovered Maui, a battle ensued. But finally Maui caught the giant's two arms and continued to twist them with such power that the giant roared with pain and consented to give him some fire brands to take home. That is how Samoans got the first fire to cook their food. Before, they ate their food raw.

Tongan Tradition

Maui pulled up Tongatapu with a hook he obtained from Savaii.

Maori Tradition

Maui cut the two islands usunder. Maui was on the west side of the island and didn't want to go all the way around the island to get to the east side. So he paddled his canoe hard and cut the island into two parts. The North islands are called "Te Ika o Maui" or the Boat of Maui.

The famous island of Maui in Hawaii is also named after this clever and daring salior and demi-God.

Hawaiian Tradition

Maui's grandmother used to make tapa. she complained that she didn't have time for it to dry because the sun went across the sky too fast. She asked Maui if he could make the sun slow down so that she dould dry her tapa cloth.

One day when the sun returned to Haleakala or "the ouse of the sun" to sleep, Maui and his two brothers made ropes of vines and tied up the sun. In the morning when the sun started on his way across the sky, he was bound fast and he could not move. He shouted and moaned but Maui held on steadfastly.

Carving of Maui and the Sun - Polynesian Cultural Center - Laie, Hawaii. Picture taken by Sean Bennett

The sun began to use his fiery breathe. One on maui's brothers succumbed to the heat of the sun; but Maui was determined and held the sun and would not release him until he yielded to Maui's request to travel across the sky slowly and people now have more time to enjoy their day.

It was through Maui, the great hero that all Polynesians are joined together He is known for his great skill, arts and trickery.

Disney's Maui - taken from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Maui

The above information was taken (as written - with headers added) from the MCKAY-FALE located in Sauniatu (on the island of Upolu) Western Samoa.

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