E Mervyn Taylor

Maui and the fire goddess

Maui and the fire goddess by E Mervyn Taylor

Artwork Detail

Mahuika is a Māori fire deity who was married to Auahitūroa. Together, they had five children who were named after the five fingers on a hand. In Mervyn Taylor’s print, the goddess’s fiery hands loom over a creature that is part human and part bird. The hybrid being is Maui, a main protagonist and trickster in Māori mythology. Curious to know where fire comes from, Maui tricked Mahuika into giving him her fingernails of fire one by one. When he had almost depleted all her fire, Mahuika became enraged and engulfed Maui in flames. Taylor’s print captures the moment when Maui has turned himself into a hawk to escape. The flames lick at him and the red singed feathers are still visible today on the underside of the native Kahu’s wings.

Maui and the fire goddess
E Mervyn Taylor
Production date
colour linocut
330 x 255 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2022
Accession no
Copyright Expired
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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