Tiakina te ipukareaEmbracing our heritage to pave pathways for building better futures.


Māori culture cherishes pūrākau (legends) and whakataukī (proverbs) as vital elements of identity.

Passed down through generations, these narratives preserve rich traditions and values. They provide Māori with cultural guideposts that inform their lived cultural experiences, practical knowledge, foster an appreciation for nature's interconnectedness, and strengthen their relationship with te taiao.

The stories of legendary figures like Māui inspire resilience and courage. Whakataukī guide social interactions and ceremonies, promoting respect and dignity. Championing Te Reo Māori and Te Ao Māori, these pūrākau secure our linguistic heritage for future generations. Pūrākau and whakataukī enrich Māori culture, empowering individuals and communities on their journey towards a thriving and united future. In this pikitia, we celebrate the legend of Māui-tikitiki-ā-Taranga and his profound impact on the world view from a Māori and Polynesian perspective. 


Māui te Tīpua

Māui, the intelligent and ambitious tīpua, holds a special place in Te Ao Māori, as the youngest son of powerful tīpua, Taranga and Makea-tu-tara. His extraordinary journey of fishing up Te Ika-ā-Māui, the North Island of New Zealand, exemplifies his wisdom, courage, and the spirit of pushing boundaries.

Māui's legendary status arises from his exceptional qualities as a tīpua. With intelligence, ambition, and courage flowing through his veins, Māui was destined for greatness. Born to Taranga and Makea-tu-tara, he was the youngest of five brothers - Māui-taha, Māui-roto, Māui-pae, and Māui-waho each representing unique aspects of their lineage.

One of Māui's most famous deeds was the fishing expedition. One day, Māui snuck onto his brother’s waka after being denied by his older brothers to participate in fishing. Once his brothers have paddled far enough out into the open ocean, Māui sprung up from the bottom of the boat and surprised his brothers. To spite him, his brothers refused to share their tools and lines with Māui, but he was not easily defeated.

Maui and his brothers Maui and his brothers Maui and his brothers Maui and his brothers Maui and his brothers Water

Using his ingenuity, Māui fashioned the legendary fish hook, Te Matau ā Māui, from the jawbone of his grandmother, Muriranga-whenua.

He then smeared his own blood on the fish hook as bait to lure a great fish.

With determination and skill, Māui cast his hook into the waters…

seeking a monumental catch…

Maui pull great fish

As Māui felt an immense tug on his line, the struggle that followed was awe-inspiring. The fish fought with such vigour that it created deep valleys and gouges in the ocean floor.

His elder brothers, witnessing this tremendous feat, ultimately became jealous of the success of their youngest brother. The brothers hacked at the flesh of the fish. Little did they know that their actions would shape the landscape of Aotearoa forever. The gouges formed by the fish's mighty struggles would later become the breathtaking bays, harbours, and inlets of New Zealand.

Undeterred by the challenge, Māui's perseverance paid off as he triumphantly brought the great fish, Te Ika-ā-Māui, the North Island, to the surface, forever changing the course of history.

Te mata o te whēnua me te hononga ki ngā tangataGeographical symbolism and cultural connection

The northern region
Coromandel Peninsula
Taranaki and Te Tai Rāwhiti
Taupo and Rotorua
Te Urewera
Southern end of South Island
Northern end of South Island
Kaikoura Peninsula
Aoteroa, New Zealand Wellington The northern region Coromandel Peninsula Taranaki and Te Tai Rāwhiti Taupo and Rotorua Te Urewera Southern end of South Island Northern end of South Island Kaikoura Peninsula

In Te Ao Maōri, the Maōri world view, we perceive the North Island as Te Ika-ā-Māui.

Some say Te Ika-ā-Māui resembles a flounder, while others liken it to a stingray.

As we journey from top to bottom, starting from Te Ūpoko o Te Ika, also known as Wellington.

… while the tail is situated in Te Tai Tokerau, the northern region.

Te Tara o Te Ika-ā-Māui is located in the Coromandel Peninsula…

… while Taranaki and Te Tai Rāwhiti (the east coast of Aoteroa, New Zealand), are the pākau, fins.

Te Tai Tuara o Te Ika, the backbone, stretches between Taupo and Rotorua…

… with its heart located at Maungapōhatu, which rests in Te Urewera.

The stern of Te Waka ō Māui, the South Island, sits at the very southern tip

… and the prow is located at the north end.

The Kaikoura Peninsula is known as Te Taumaunu o Te Waka, the seat of the waka.

Whakamanatia i ngā hāpori me ōna ahurea hirangaCultural significance and empowering communities

In Te Ao Māori, the connection to the land is deeply rooted in spirituality, encompassing a profound reverence for the natural world.

The map is not just a tool for navigation; it is a portal that delves into the heart of Māori culture, where legends, pūrākau, and whakapapa breathe life into the landscape.

In te ao Māori, whēnua (the land) is a living and breathing lifeforce that has its own Mauri (essence) and Mana (power). It is intricately interconnected with the all aspects of the past, present and future of the tangata whēnua of Aotearoa. Each geographical feature holds significant cultural and historical meanings, etched with the stories of ancestors, the events that shaped their lives, and the wisdom they passed down through generations.

Te iwi Māori have an ingrained understanding of ‘Kaitiakitanga’ - a responsibility towards the generational preservation of the environment. The land is more than just a physical entity; it is a spiritual sanctuary, fostering a harmonious relationship between te toi o te tangata (mankind) and te taiao (the natural world). This profound connection influences every aspect of te ao Māori, from cultural practices to decision-making processes.

Beach Green Flower Pohutukawa Maui

The legends of Māui and Te Ika-ā-Māui evokes a sense of wonder, awe, and respect for the land, its origins, and the rich heritage it holds, further championing the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa.

Moreover, the significance of this map goes beyond borders and boundaries, transcending time and space. It reflects the traditional Māori worldview of Aotearoa, where the connection to the land is deeply spiritual and interwoven with legends, pūrākau, and whakapapa. The map becomes a portal into Māori history, with geographical features holding cultural and historical meanings derived from the stories of ancestors.

Embracing this perspective acknowledges Māori communities as kaitiaki (guardians) of the environment, from the land to the sea. Entrusted with preserving its integrity, it fosters a deep understanding of belonging to the land and a responsibility towards its preservation and restoration.

This narrative guides iwi, hapu and hāpori (communities) to make decisions that respect and nurture the land for the betterment of all. The traditional Māori perspective reaffirms the wisdom and solutions inherent in ancient traditions, guiding communities towards a more harmonious and sustainable future.