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Island of Maui in New Zealand

The Hawaiian Island of Maui now shares its name with an island Down Under. New Zealand has officially named its North Island in Maori as Te Ika-a-Maui (“the fish of Maui”), according to “Pacific Business News.”

The islands not only share the same name but also a very similar backstory. According to Hawaiian mythology, Maui fishes out the Hawaiian Islands with a magic fishhook. He does this by convincing his brothers to take him fishing.

As they paddle with their backs turned, he tosses the hook to the bottom of the ocean and tricks them into thinking he caught a big fish. They paddle as hard as they can – not noticing the islands rising behind them.

New Zealand has a similar story in that Maui is also a demigod but an outcast of the family. He asked his brothers if they would take him fishing, to which they refused. So he hid inside of the boat and waited until they were far out to sea before popping out and surprising them.

When his brothers refused to give him bait, he broke his own nose and dripped his blood onto his grandmother’s magical jawbone. Maui casted the bone out to sea and ended up catching Te Ika-a-Maui, the North Island of New Zealand.

This is just one of many examples of how legends and traditions of the Pacific share common traits. From what I have learned growing up here, this happens in a way that is similar to the analogy of someone whispering a secret into another person’s ear and the message getting passed along. By the last person in line, the message might have changed. Traditions and legends may vary, but the overall message or goal is usually always the same.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Oct 11, 2013