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Maui was miscarried by his mother, the goddess Taranga, and abandoned for dead. She cut off her hair, wrapped the baby in it (hence the epithet Tiki Tiki a Taranga: Taranga's Topknot), and cast him adrift on the ocean (compare Moses and Romulus and Remus). The currents carried him up the coast and washed him ashore on a beach, where he was found and raised by his uncle, Tama Nui ke te Rangi, a sea-god, who knew nothing of his origins.

When he grew up he went in search of his mother and wandered the island until he found her and his four brothers, later descending to the underworld, where he found his father.

He is famous for his cleverness and the sometimes unkind tricks he played on others. He slowed the sun down when it went too quickly, he fished the North Island of New Zealand out of the ocean and he brought fire to mankind, before being killed by the goddess of death, Hine Nui te Po.


Encyclopedia of Religion. 16 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1987)
Gill, William Wyatt. Myths and Songs from the South Pacific. (London: Henry S. King & Co., 1876)
Te Kanawa, Kiri. Land of the Long White Cloud: Maori Myths, Tales and Legends. (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1989)
Gossage, P.J. How Maui-tiki-tiki-a-Taranga Found His Mother. (Auckland: Weldon for Ashton Scholastic, 1992)
"Maui." Available at:


Mythological, Traditional and Divine Figures
Polynesian, Melanesian
Birth Identity Disputed or Deliberately Concealed
Late or Traumatic Learning of Adoption
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