Ngā pakiwaitara a Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga Stories of Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga

Tagged with:

  • Physical activity
  • Movement concepts and motor skills
  • Hauora
  • Years 1–4
  • Years 5–8
  • Years 9–10

Develop kanikani (dance) in response to the pūrākau of Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga.

Exploring te ao kori — Activity collections

This resource is part of a series within the Exploring te ao kori activity collections called Te kori me te puoro | Music and movement.

Read background information View Te kori me te puoro | Music and movement View te ao kori collections
Ākonga doing kapa haka.

Intended outcomes


  • develop a range of creative movement skills in kanikani (dance) 
  • initiate and express dance ideas based on selected stories about Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga
  • share movement and dance through informal and/or formal presentation 
  • respond personally to their own and others' dances in written and/or verbal forms 
  • explore and respond to the elements and expressive qualities of music through listening, moving, and chanting
  • perform a dance about Maui for an audience and reflect upon this experience 
  • use choreographic devices to create a dance about Māui.

Suggested approach

To gain understanding about Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga and to build a profile of his character, ākonga:

  • listen to pūrākau about the hautupua (hero) and identify the main characteristics of Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, for example, a trickster, cunning, playful, breaker of tapu, clever, curious, powerful, entertaining, funny, good with his hands
  • look at and discuss paintings and carvings depicting Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga in both customary and contemporary Māori art
  • listen to songs and chants about the exploits of Māui in both customary and contemporary Māori music.

Ākonga could discuss Māui's status as the youngest of five brothers and how this affects his behaviour in the different stories. Ākonga discuss this in relation to their own sibling relationships.

Te hopu a Māui i a te Rā | How Māui slowed the sun

Discuss what ākonga know about the rising and the setting of the sun and/or present the whakapapa (history and protocols) of the sun.

Ākonga listen to the story of Te Hopu a Māui i a te Rā | How Māui Slowed the Sun (or the Ready to Read book Māui and the Sun and its translation in Māori, Ko Māui me te Rā) and listen to/learn 'Whiti te Rā', the song about the sun by Hirini Melbourne.

Help ākonga break the story down into main events:

  • The fast rising of the sun, its fast travel across the sky, and its fast setting.
  • The daily activities of a whānau – fishing, cooking, playing games – which are seldom completed because of the short days and nights.
  • Māui and his brothers planning the sun's capture.
  • Māui and his brothers travelling to the cave of the sun through different environments – across open land, hacking through forests, up and down hills, crossing rivers, climbing over obstacles.
  • The gathering and weaving of harakeke (flax) over, under, around, through, and between into stout ropes to catch the sun.
  • Māui and his brothers throwing the rope with its noose over the sun and hauling on the ropes.
  • Māui beating the sun, and the sun cringing and begging for mercy.
  • The slow rising of the vanquished sun, its slow travel across the sky, and its slow setting.

Help ākonga explore movement ideas inspired by these main events.

Level 2

In groups of three to four, ākonga create a dance or sequence that portrays a part of the story. Each group has a different part of the story to illustrate.

Each group performs their section of the story to the rest of the class.

After further rehearsing, ākonga can present the sections as a connected dance to other classes or to whānau and friends, with narration by the teacher or ākonga.

Te kiteanga o te kāpura | How Māui found the secret of fire

Ākonga listen to the story Te Kiteanga o te Kāpura | How Māui found the secret of fire. In the story, Mahuika, the Māori goddess of fire, pulls off each of her fingernails, representing each of her five children – Kōnui (thumb), Kōroa (first finger), Mānawa (second finger), Māpere (third finger), and Tōiti (little finger).

Lead a brainstorming session about different action words that describe 'fire', for example, jumping, flickering, hot, red, blazing, roaring, crackling, burning, sparking, flaming, raging, consuming. Help ākonga to explore some of these words, using different body parts, levels, directions, size, on the ground, off the ground, travelling, and so on. As a class or in small groups, ākonga create a dance depicting Mahuika, goddess of fire.

Huringa āhua | Shape shifter

Introduce the idea that Māui was able to keep out of trouble by transforming himself into different creatures. He was known as the shape shifter.

Help ākonga to explore how they can make different kinds of shapes as if they are Māui transforming from one creature to another – hawk, fish, stone, tree, lizard, fire, wind, fantail, and so on. For example:

  • shapes that are curved, angular, twisted, on one leg
  • shapes that are initiated by nature/creature images
  • slow, smooth transitions from one distinctive body shape into another in eight counts (these transitions can be performed in place or while travelling)
  • symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes with a partner
  • changing their shape (while in place and/or travelling around the room) in response to a narration of a story.

Ākonga could create and perform a dance-drama to depict the different characteristics of Māui: the trickster, taming the sun, fishing up the North Island, taking fire from Mahuika, changing into a hawk to escape the fire, inventing string games, juggling, and so on.