The Manaiakalani Story

The Manaiakalani Kaupapa

The Manaiakalani story is powerful and liberating. The name Manaiakalani was chosen for the work of enfranchisement and growing success in citizenship by our group of schools in Tāmaki, Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), Aotearoa/New Zealand because of the inspirational and courageous behaviour of its principal character, Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga as he harnessed ancient knowledge and combined it with effective technology to bring about an expansive and empowered future for his people.

The story was told to us by our Kaumatua, Ihaka (Ike) Samuels, who at the time was one of the four “kingmakers” of Tainui in Aotearoa.

The Manaiakalani Kaupapa

Our belief is that early in the 1st millenium AD, Māui began his epic journey across Te Moana nui-a-Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean)

In the story as told to us by Ihaka, Māui, the left handed man, who was marginalised by his whānau, went to his many times great grandmother Mahuika and was given wisdom from her jaw, (symbolic of her speech), wherein she described a great hook in the sky, Manaiakalani, the “Hook of Heaven”.

She instructed Māui that if one followed this hook, the constellation or “star line” Manaiakalani, one would make landfall on Te Ika o Māui, the North Island of Aotearoa.


This story is a very significant variation on the “Legend of Māui” that children in New Zealand have been told in school, where Mahuika gives Māui a hook from the bone of her jaw and Māui uses blood as bait to fish up Te Ika o Māui.

Māui and his use of Manaiakalani to guide his Waka Hourua has strong historicity and is a remarkable example of blending wisdom, knowledge and technology to bring about a bright future in a land of hope. Evidence of Māui and his voyages are found across Melanesia and Polynesia and his name is well known and respected right across the Pacific. His response to marginalisation and his indomitable courage and determination to seek a better future is a marvellous example, not only of the efficacy, panache and courage of the Pacific Navigators but also a powerful inspiration for the descendants of the Navigators wherever they live on planet earth.


It is significant that as this kaupapa was being written, the Malama Honua World Wide Voyage 2014 - 2015 was in progress. Hokule’a depicted above has sailed into the Waitemata harbour of Aotearoa/New Zealand from Hawai’i. The Manaiakalani Schools had the pleasure of greeting this beautiful waka with haka/waiata on the beach at Pt England, in the Tāmaki Estuary on 24 March 2015.

The Star Line Manaiakalani (the Hook of Heaven) is a marvellous symbol of hope and direction. In order to achieve maramatanga (enlightenment) we need the wisdom of our forebears, and we need to set our sights on higher things that can take us to new places of knowledge, understanding, action and satisfaction. We need to be innovators and risk takers who combine the old with the new and like the navigators, find our way place by place, island by island, never losing sight of who we are and where we’ve come from.

The original Manaiakalani Logo used by our group has powerful symbolic significance.

The significance of this logo is the same as that of the story:

The fusion of ancient knowledge, creative courage and innovation are a powerful inspiration for Maori and Pasifika learners today as we emulate the actions and lives of the navigators.


Russell Burt

January 2015

The image of Māui, used by permission, was extracted from an early New Zealand artwork depicting Maui fishing up Te Ika o Maui. The original is held in the Turnbull Library.

  1. Dittmer, Wilhelm, 1866-1909

  2. Māui fishing New Zealand out of the ocean. [London, Routledge, 1907]

  3. PUBL-0088-049

  4. Photolithograph of ink drawing

  • The image of the earth, (the blue marble), is the original image of earth from space from the NASA website when it was made available to the world for public use.

  • The image of the hook was given to us by one of Aotearoa’s Carvers, Don Campbell, who also at the time presented 6 hooks (hei-matau o Maui) to the Manaiakalani Cluster to be presented to learners who were “striving to succeed”. Don’s amazing work can be found at: http://boneart.co.nz/bonehooks1.htm

The Manaiakalani Logo was modernised by Imogen Greenfield in 2013 and can be seen at the top of this page.