Te Waka a Māui
Te Waka a Māui (the canoe or vessel of Māui) is a Māori name for Te Waipounamu, the South Island of New Zealand. Some Māori mythology says that it was the vessel which Māui (a demi-god hero, who possessed magic powers) stood on as he hauled up Te Ika-a-Māui (the fish of Māui - North Island). There are also stories about other people, Kupe and Toi, who discovered Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Maui lived in the Māori ancestral homeland of Hawaiiki.
One day he hid in the bottom of his brothers' boat as they went on a long fishing voyage. Maui used his magical powers to increase the distance back to shore so when he was discovered his brothers would not take him back home.
When they were far out into the ocean, Maui dropped his magic fishhook over the side of the (waka). He felt a strong tug on the line, too strong to be a normal type of fish. Maui called on his brothers to help. After quite a struggle they pulled up the North Island of New Zealand - which, since that day, has been known to Maori as Te Ika-a-Maui (the fish of Maui).
Since then, the South Island of New Zealand has been known as Te Waka a Maui (the canoe of Maui). The third (smaller) island lying to the south of New Zealand is known as Te Punga a Maui (Maui's anchor), as it was the anchor for Maui's canoe. In English it is known as Stewart Island.
Later Maui went to make peace with the Atua (spiritual powers or gods). His brothers argued about who would control this newly discovered land. As they argued and fought their weapons created the many mountains and valleys that cover Te Ika-a-Maui (the North Island).
The official names are the South Island or Te Waipounamu. Another old South Island name for the island, following a different tradition from the one above, is Te Waka a Aoraki, the canoe of Aoraki.
- Williamson, Maurice (10 October 2013). "Names of NZ’s two main islands formalised" (Press release). New Zealand Government.
- "Māori legends and myths - The Legend of Maui and the magic fishhook", New Zealand in History
- "The Legends of Maui and the magic fishhook", Maori-in-Oz