How Māui Got his Name/Ka Tapaina a Māui

A plot summary of the legend How Maui Got His Name, as well as links to the full story and classroom activities.

Story summary

This story tells the tale of how Māui got his name. It starts with Taranga giving birth to her fifth child – who is not breathing. In her grief Taranga cuts off her topknot, wraps her son in the hair, and sends the bundle out to sea. Papatūānuku, Ranginui and all their children hear Taranga’s grief, and send their help through the creatures of the sea and the forest.

The boy survives, and when a tohunga hears the baby's cries, the boy is pulled from the surf. The tohunga decides to raise the boy, who is a special child and can do all sorts of magical things. But the boy longs to find his human family. After getting the tohunga's permission, Māui sets off in search of them. He eventually finds his mother, who names him Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, or Māui of the topknot of Taranga. 

Updated 28 Jun 2017