Potiki - Is Toko Maui?

analytical Essay
2292 words
2292 words

She blew his mouth and nostrils, and with two fingers lightly massaged his chest until the mucus began to drain freely. She took a pendant from her ear and put it on the blanket beside him. ‘Tokowaru-i-te-Marama. Ko Tokowaru-i-te-Marama te ingoa o tenei,’ she said. (Grace 36)

The passage above comes from the book Potiki. It’s when granny Tamihana breathes life into Toko and gives him the name of her deceased brother. In Potiki, a novel written by Patricia Grace, we are introduced to a family that is given a special gift. That gift is in a form of a child named Toko. Toko isn’t any ordinary child for he knows all his past stories and has the ability to see future stories. Toko was born by Mary and is cared for by Mary’s brother Hemi and his wife Roimata. In yet another novel, there is a strong presence of mythological icons being incorporated into a book. Grace ties the legend of Maui into the character of Toko. Toko and Maui were both born prematurely. Another similarity Grace ties in with the legend of Maui is the fishing story. Maui goes out fishing with his brothers and brags that he’ll catch a bigger fish than his brothers and Toko’s fishing with his family in the lagoon and catches a big eel. Lastly, Grace links the legend of Maui’s death to Toko’s death. In Potiki, Toko enters the wharenui to bring back Manu who was sleepwalking. Instead a gunshot was heard and Toko was killed. In the legend of Maui, Maui tried to capture death by trying to crawl into the death goddess “hidden source of life” to capture her heart. A bird laughs, which woke the death goddess and closed her mouth. The teeth of the death goddess cut Maui in the center and killed him.

According to Westervelt, “Maui may mean “to live,” to subsists,” and may refer to beauty and strength, or it may have the idea of “the left hand” or “turning aside. (1)” In Potiki, Grace ties in the meaning of Maui to the character Toko. In what way is the birth of Toko and Maui similar and it’s relationship with Westervelt’s definition of Maui? How is Toko’s fishing story similar with the legend of Maui pulling the island of New Zealand and its relationship with Westervelt’s definition of Maui? How is the death of Toko similar to the way Maui dies and how it relates to the definition of Maui?

In this essay, the author

  • Describes how she massaged his chest and blew his mouth and nostrils, and put a pendant from her ear on the blanket beside him.
  • Analyzes how patricia grace ties the legend of maui into the character of toko in the novel potiki.
  • Analyzes how grace ties in the mythological legend of maui to the character of toko in potiki.
  • Explains that westervelt, w.d., legends of maui: a demi god of polynesia and of his mother hina.
  • Analyzes the similarities between the mythological stories of maui and toko's life.
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