Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Te Ika a Maui • The Fish of Maui (North Island of Aotearoa)


1st Carving /Sculpture - Open in New Zealand National Woodskills Competition in Kawerau on 24 September 2015

In New Zealand Maori mythology it was Tane-Mahuta, God of the Forest and father of mankind, who created the first woman out of the earth and procreated with her.

Their descendants, who also procreated, produced a line of men-like gods and god-like men. One of these, Maui, was credited with fishing up the North Island of New Zealand. Maui was an archetypal hero throughout Polynesia. He was the last-born in his family so that in theory his rank was low but he compensated for this by being far more resourceful and imaginative than his brothers.

In the fish story (and there are many others) Maui smuggled himself aboard his brother’s canoe in Hawaiki, the traditional Polynesian homeland. They were annoyed by his trickery and wanted to return to shore but by this time land was too far away so they continued with their planned fishing expedition. After the brothers had filled the canoe with their catch, Maui produced his own hook, the barb of which was made from a fragment of his mother’s jaw-bone. The brothers refused him bait so Maui struck his own nose and smeared the hook with his blood. He lowered his line and almost immediatley hooked a fish of unimaginable magnitude. The only way he could haul it up was by reciting a chant to make heavy weight light.

When the great fish had at last reached the surface Maui left the canoe to find a priest who could make an offering to the gods and perform the appropriate ritual. He warned his brothers not to touch the mighty creature until this was done. The brothers, however ignored him. They leapt from the canoe and began to scale the fish and hack bits off it. The fish raised its fins and writhed in agony. The sun rose and made the flesh solid underfoot, its surface rough and mountainous because of the brothers’ mutilation. It remained that way, and the name given to it was Te Ika-a-Maui, The Fish of Maui (North Island of Aotearoa).

—Rex Homan

Rex Homan

Rex Homan


Te Rarawa, Ngāti Paoa, Te Ātiawa

(1940- )

Rex Homan was born 1940 in Thames, New Zealand of Māori, Irish and Scottish ancestry. He lived in Auckland in his early years before moving to the Bay of Plenty. Rex has earned international recognition as a wood sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s and began working in bronze in the 1980s. His current work is influenced by the culture of the Pacific and displays uniqueness in its diversity of form and dramatic flow of lines. Rex has exhibited in solo, group and jury shows. He has won several national awards for “National Wood Skills” and is represented in corporate and private collections worldwide.