The Maui fish hook is an emblem rich in symbolism, representing strength, prosperity, fertility, good luck, and safe passage over water. This significance has its roots in Maori legend, particularly the story of Maui, a demi-god and legendary seafarer. He famously used a magical fish hook made from the jawbone of his grandmother to catch a great fish, asserting his role as an audacious guardian.
In various Polynesian cultures, the fish hook holds different meanings. In New Zealand, Maui possessed a magical jawbone, whereas in Hawaii, he wielded a powerful fish hook. This hook is a central theme in the film ‘Moana,’ where the protagonist Moana undertakes a quest across the ocean to save her people. The fish hook symbolizes the connection between ancestors and the significance of carving to native Hawaiians.
Interestingly, the Hawaiian fish hook necklace, deeply connected with the ocean, carries this symbolism. Traditional Hawaiian fish hooks, like those created by Gary, emphasize the importance of materials, construction, and attention to detail, perpetuating indigenous knowledge. These hooks, often designed with fluid, tattoo-like shapes and embellishments, can be portrayed alone or with various symbols and elements.
The fish-hook shape of the hei matau holds that the North Island of New Zealand was once a huge fish caught by Maui. Expert carvers can shape these hooks in different forms, reflecting various fashion statements. The legend of the fish hook transformed into commerce about 20 years ago, marking a resurgence in Hawaiian culture.
In a meditative practice involving the Maui fish hook, one visualizes the fishhook in their body, with the sharp point at the forehead center and the stem as the backbone. This practice is believed to empower the fish hook when held in the right hand.
For those interested in this symbol’s craftsmanship, the Maui Fish Hook Pendant Pewter Surfer Pendant, available on eBay, is a fine example. It’s a New Zealand Necklace on an Adjustable Waxed Cord, handmade by William Sturt.