Te Mana-A-Māui / The Magic Of Māui: Transforming and Shapeshifting Pūrākau Māori

Waipara, Zak Rangi Scott
Ings, Welby
Wilson, Jani
Tavares, Tatiana
Gilderdale, Peter
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This practice-led thesis is concerned with writing, illustrating, and designing a trilogy of stories for contemporary young readers. The study addresses the question: How might a philosophy drawn from the Māui cycle be applied creatively to transform and shapeshift pūrākau Māori? In researching the project I designed and applied Te Mana-a-Māui, a method drawn from the Māui story cycle of Aotearoa, to creatively transform traditionally oral narratives into picture book/comic hybrid forms. The resulting Tuakore Trilogy comprises three contemporary graphic books which adapt pūrākau Māori (creation narratives) as guides for the future. Couched in metaphor, the creation stories of old offer useful perspectives on the social, environmental, economic, and cultural problems facing the world today. In the exegesis, the Māui saga and specific pūrākau Māori are analysed in depth as part of the shapeshifting practice. In addition, whakapapa (genealogy) is used to link traditional Māori storytelling and introduced forms: illustration, picture books, and comics, in order to indigenise these media and engage with a modern audience. I posit Te Mana-a-Māui as an attitudinal approach to making unconventional creative choices. Māui provides an example of a liminal being who bridges the worlds of gods and humankind. I approached this research as a descendant of Māui, drawing on the knowledge of my East Coast iwi (tribes). Our inherited gifts come to us from the ancestors and the atua (primal ancestors), and we hold them in trust for the next generation.

[NOTE: The Tuakore Trilogy contemporary graphic books are embargoed until 16 November 2025]

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