Potiki - Is Toko Maui?

Topics: Hawaii, Left-handedness, The Legend of Zelda Pages: 6 (2402 words) Published: October 8, 1999
She blew his mouth and nostrils, and with two fingers lightly massaged his chest until the mucus began to drain freely. She took a pendant from her ear and put it on the blanket beside him. ‘Tokowaru-i-te-Marama. Ko Tokowaru-i-te-Marama te ingoa o tenei,' she said. (Grace 36)

The passage above comes from the book Potiki. It's when granny Tamihana breathes life into Toko and gives him the name of her deceased brother. In Potiki, a novel written by Patricia Grace, we are introduced to a family that is given a special gift. That gift is in a form of a child named Toko. Toko isn't any ordinary child for he knows all his past stories and has the ability to see future stories. Toko was born by Mary and is cared for by Mary's brother Hemi and his wife Roimata. In yet another novel, there is a strong presence of mythological icons being incorporated into a book. Grace ties the legend of Maui into the character of Toko. Toko and Maui were both born prematurely. Another similarity Grace ties in with the legend of Maui is the fishing story. Maui goes out fishing with his brothers and brags that he'll catch a bigger fish than his brothers and Toko's fishing with his family in the lagoon and catches a big eel. Lastly, Grace links the legend of Maui's death to Toko's death. In Potiki, Toko enters the wharenui to bring back Manu who was sleepwalking. Instead a gunshot was heard and Toko was killed. In the legend of Maui, Maui tried to capture death by trying to crawl into the death goddess "hidden source of life" to capture her heart. A bird laughs, which woke the death goddess and closed her mouth. The teeth of the death goddess cut Maui in the center and killed him.

According to Westervelt, "Maui may mean "to live," to subsists," and may refer to beauty and strength, or it may have the idea of "the left hand" or "turning aside. (1)" In Potiki, Grace ties in the meaning of Maui to the character Toko. In what way is the birth of Toko and Maui similar and it's relationship with Westervelt's definition of Maui? How is Toko's fishing story similar with the legend of Maui pulling the island of New Zealand and its relationship with Westervelt's definition of Maui? How is the death of Toko similar to the way Maui dies and how it relates to the definition of Maui?

We first recognize the similarities between the mythological stories of Maui to Toko's life as we are introduced to Toko. In Toko's saga as well as Maui's legend, they are born prematurely and born near the ocean. Both Maui's and Toko's mother doesn't care much for them and tries to throw them into the ocean.

Maui was prematurely born, and his mother, not, caring to be troubled with him, cut off a lock of her hair, tied it around him and cast him into the sea. The waters bore him safely. The jellyfish enwrapped and mothered him. The god of the seas cared for and protected him. He was carried to the god's house and hung up in the roof that he might feel the warm air of the fire, and be cherished into life. (Westervelt 3)

This passage explains the birth of Maui. Toko's birth closely resembles the birth Maui-Potiki, the trickster demi-god. Maui was born prematurely and was thrown into the sea, where he was tangled in seaweed, and washed up on the shore. Files and birds tried to eat him but he was saved by his ancestor and given magic powers. His rudeness and inquisitive mind caused him many troubles, but led to new discoveries and knowledge. Because Maui was born premature his left hand was shorter than his right hand.

I was born on the beach stones on a day with no colour and my borning mother carried me into the water. She would have left me there for the birds, mistaking me for something she had found. Or she could have kept walking with me out into the water until the sea closed over us, and we would both have belonged to the fishes. But my sister Tangimoana, in her red shirt, came and snatched me away from my first...

Cited: /b>

  1. Grace, Patricia. Potiki. Honolulu: University of Hawai 'i Press, 1995.

  2. Westervelt, W.D. Legends of Maui: A Demi God of Polynesia and of His Mother Hina. Honolulu: The Hawaiian Gazette Co., LTD. 1910.
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