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The diminuitive Polynesian cult hero and trickster, Maui was thrown into the sea by his mother, Taranga, saved by his great ancestor, Tama-nui-ki-te-rangi, and eventually returned to earth to rejoin his family. His exploits and adventures are many, among them his fishing up of islands from the sea bed, snaring the sun to slow its passage, lifting the sky to give men more room on earth, and getting fire. In Maori myth Maui used the jawbone of his ancestress, Muri-ranga-whenua,as his enchanted weapon. With its keen point he drew land from the sea, but his brothers and sisters, ignoring his warning, sliced it up, thus causing the mountain-studded triangle of Polynesia and the island of New Zealand. With the mighty jawbone and a flaxen rope he also assailed the sun, thinking the interval between day and night too short. He caught the sun in a noose and dealt it many fierce blows until it was so weak it could only creep along its course.

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