Kahu Gore Kahukura Taiapa-Johnson Hurae Māuipōtiki (Māui the last born)

  • Kaitautoko / Contributor
    Kowhai Wilkie
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Don Chooi, Eddie Wong, Jim Murray, Jocelyn Janon, Tammie Leong
  • School
    Media Design School

(Māui the last born)

I’m a young Māori artist with taonga (treasure) takiwātanga (autism), who has grown up surrounded by Māori artistry. I undertook this project to deepen my understanding of Māori mythology and to know more details about Māui.

Māuipōtiki or Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga (Māui the topknot of Taranga) was a mischievous and irresponsible demigod. He’s known for being clever, shapeshifting into different animals, an inventor, a great fisherman, expert at Tā-moko (Māori tattoos), dexterous at games, an explorer, a father, a great tīpuna (ancestor) but, also, lazy.

His feats were known throughout Polynesia and included the accomplishment of great deeds as well as the strange story of his life. From being mistaken as a miscarriage and thrown into the seas to be protected by natural forces, to being gifted a jawbone which later becomes his powerful fishhook that brought up the North Island of New Zealand. Later, meeting his order brothers and parents, teaching hunting and fishing to his people, learning how to make fire, trapping the sun, killing the god of war, getting vengeance against a massive eel, creating the first dog, ocean and eventually meeting his death while attempting to give immortality to humanity.

I want to distinguish Māui from the children’s books made by Peter Gossage, to show a more indigenous point of view, rather than a westernised perspective, like Māui being featured in the Disney movie: Moana. Christianity is a huge part of colonisation and the influence of Christian beliefs into the stories of Māui has meant they have been told differently to their original source material. The aim of this project is to remove the westernised views and tell the stories of Māui to revitalise traditional pūrakau (ancient stories) bringing an indigenous lens to better engage with the target audience which is Māori and Pacific people.

Māuipōtiki character design.
The clothing in-between his legs is called a ‘maro’ (loin cloth, short garment) and around Māui’s waist his called a ‘tātua’ (belt) The long rope that straps around Māui’s arms relate to the story of him trapping the sun, I imagine it’s his way of preparing the journey to the Cave of the Sun. The weapon that he is caring is he’s fishhook, gifted to him by his grandfather: Muri-Ranga-Whenua. The red parts on his neck, chest and shoulders are burn marks. It relates to the story of Mahuika burning Māui while he tries to escape from her. Afterwards, he uses protected enchantment from natural attacks, such as fire and lava, which is important with his encounter with the sun. The tattoo on Māui face is called a: ‘Mataora’ it represents the ancient marking of our tīpuna (ancestors). The hair, skin and the facial design marking is inspired by Peter Gossage’s version of Māui but I’ve used modern Māori art to look more contemporary. The eyes come from my findings through He Atua, He Tangata book. One of his eye’s is an eel and the other is a pounamu.