The Maori Bone Fish Hook Legend

The Maori Bone Fish Hook Legend

The fish-hook shape of the hei matau finds its origins in Maori legend, which holds that the North Island of New Zealand was once a huge fish that was caught by the great mariner Maui using only a woven line and a bone hook. Legend holds that the shape of Hawkes Bay is that of the hei matau, which caught in the fish's side.

For the Maori, the hei matau is taonga (a cultural treasure). It represents not only their land, but also prosperity, fertility and safe passage over water.