What does Manaiakalani mean?

The name Manaiakalani was chosen for the enfranchisement and growing success in citizenship by a group of schools in Tamaki, Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland), Aotearoa/New Zealand because of the inspirational and courageous behaviour of its principal character, Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga. Maui 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 the group of schools by their Kaumatua, Ihaka (Ike) Samuels who was, at the time, one of the four “kingmakers” of Tainui in Aotearoa.

From the Manaiakalani Education Trust


“Our belief is that early in the 1st millenium AD, Maui began his epic journey across Te Moana nui-a-Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean). In the story told to them by Ihaka, Maui, the left handed man who was marginalised by his whanau, 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 Maui that if one followed this hook — the constellation or “star line” Manaiakalani — one would make landfall on Te Ika o Maui, the North Island of Aotearoa. (This story is a very significant variation on the “Legend of Maui” that children in New Zealand are told in school, where Mahuika gives Maui a hook from the bone of her jaw and Maui uses blood as bait to fish up Te Ika o Maui.)Maui 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 Maui 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 is being written, the Malama Honua World Wide Voyage 2014 – 2015 is going on and Hokule’a depicted above has sailed into the Waitemata harbour of Aotearoa/New Zealand from Hawai’i. The Manaiakalani Schools expect the pleasure of greeting this beautiful waka with haka/waiata on the beach at Pt England, in the Tamaki 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 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