Tongan Creation Myth



Cate grew up in Sydney, Australia to her adopted family. She grew up in a Catholic household near Sydney as an only child. She later married her husband who is of Tongan decent, moved to Queensland, Hervey bay, where she runs a small bookstore and raises their two children.

Original script: “An ancient Tongan called Maui went to an old fisherman to ask for a fishing hook. The fishermen put up all the hooks for Maui to choose from. He told Maui to choose wisely. Maui chose the oldest hook and the fishermen said he’d chosen well. When Maui went fishing, he hooked what he thought was a big fish and kept reeling and reeling. Eventually, he could see something black rising out of the ocean on the end of his line… and it turned out to be New Zealand.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Cate says: “When my husband was growing up in Tonga, his grandmother used to tell him stories like this all the time. There’s a very strong tradition of story telling in the islands. It’s a bit similar to Aboriginal dreamtime stories in that they’re not real but there’s still some semi-belief (if that makes sense.)”

Context of the Performance: This is a story told to children to explain the origin of New Zealand.

Thoughts about the piece: Passed down through oral tradition this story is similar to a lot of Origin stories and creation myths it is a story which contains a plot and at least one major character, in this case the fisherman. It is also typical of creation myths in that it takes place in some unspecified time. What is interesting about this story is the choice the main character has to pick the hook. There is meaning to the older hook being the “right choice” to create a new land.