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Myth / Pacific Mythology

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Maui, a Polynesian demigod and hero, creating all the islands.

The mythology and deities of the Pacific region are both complex and diverse. They have been developed over many centuries on each of the islands and atolls that make up Oceania. There are some deities which are shared between many groups of islands—particularly among the islands of the Polynesian-speaking peoples—while others are specific to one set of islands or even to a single island. Their exact roles are often overlapping as one divinity can appear in different places under different names, and a single divinity can also appear in many different forms.

See also Aboriginal Australian Myths, Philippine Mythology and Malagasy Mythology.


Works based on (or including elements of) Pacific mythology:

Comic Books
  • Marvel Comics: The Akua (also known as the "Atua", "Oceanic gods" and "Kahunas") from the X-Force.
  • DC Comics: Supervillain/Anti-Hero King Shark is actually based on the little known legend of Nanaue, a young man with the power and hunger of a shark born from a human woman and the Shark god.
Films — AnimatedLiteratureVideo Games
  • Smite: Polynesian is a pantheon in the game with the goddess Pele being the first character released.


Pacific mythology provides examples of:

  • An Ice Person: The four Snow Maidens of Hawaiian mythology. They each have a mountain on the Big Island, gifted to them by their father, though they have been known to visit other mountains as well. (Especially their leader, Poli'ahu.)
  • Bat Out of Hell: In Hawaiian mythology, the god Maui battled a giant eight-eyed bat known as Pe'ape'a that kidnapped his wife.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: In ancient Hawaiian myth, the divine couple who gave birth to the Hawaiian islands were either siblings or half-siblings. They also had a daughter who grew up to be so beautiful that her father begun a relationship with her and fathered two more kids. This became the basis for a practice known as pi'o, intentional incestuous mating amongst the ruling class. Extensive genealogies were kept in order to produce the most inbred (and thus, godly) chiefs possible. The commoners were forbidden to do this out of fears that they would start producing children with chieflike levels of mana.
  • Cain and Abel: Tawhirimatea, the Māori storm god, is the Cain to his brothers' Abels, holding a personal vendetta against them (and humanity) for what they did to their parents.
  • Divine Date: Pele the Hawaiian goddess is known for her fiery temper. She fell in love with mortals alot of times and most of those young men were not fortunate to escape with their lives. The incredible details of some of these stories is what really makes her into a special divine example of a Yandere.
  • Egg MacGuffin: Pele carried an egg that would later hatch one of her sisters, Hi'iaka from Kahiki to Hawaii.
  • Everyone Is Related: In Hawaiian mythology, all the gods are related to one another somehow, thanks to the union between the sky god and the earth goddess, who happened to be siblings.
  • Exotic Equipment: In Hawaiian mythology, the fertility goddess Kapo uses her detachable vulva to distract Kamapua'a and save Pele from being raped by him. He chases after it, until it settles on a particular hilltop on O'ahu, leaving a crater which was named Kohelepelepe ("Fringed Vulva"). Later, the Christian missionaries renamed it Koko Head.
  • Genius Loci: The Māori people of New Zealand have many legends surrounding the mountains that dominate the country, the most well-known of which concerns several personified mountains (though it's mainly Taranaki and Tongariro) fighting each other for the love of the female mountain Pihanga. In the end, Taranaki is defeated and forced into exile and ends up creating many of the surrounding features of his current location before settling down.
  • Giant Corpse World: In the mythology of Kiribati, the god Na Atibu allowed his own child Nareau to kill him and use his body to create the world. His right eye became the sun, his left eye the moon, his brains became the stars, and his bones and flesh became the islands and trees.
  • God Couple: In Polynesian mythology, Pala-Mao and Kumi-Kahi, both of whom are male, as well as many others.
  • God of Evil: The Māori religion gives us Whiro, who manages to some way or another cause practically every problem we have while locked in the underworld. He will eventually escape and destroy everything besides himself and the ashes.
  • God of Fire: Pele is the goddess of volcanoes and fire, and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • God of Light: Tama-nui-te-Ranote  is the god of the sun, but all he does in mythology is being Maui's Butt-Monkey.
  • God of the Moon:
    • In various Polynesian cultures, "Hina" is the recurring name of an important goddess who is sometimes associated with the moon, if not the moon goddess herself.
    • Marama is the moon god in Maori mythology. Though he has a divine wife and two daughters, it's widely believed that every woman on earth is his "wife", which explains the moon's affect on women's menstrual cycles.
  • God Was My Copilot: In Hawaii, there is a legend (notably similar to the Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts legend) where a woman appears by the side of the road. Sometimes she is an older woman dressed in white, sometimes a younger woman dressed in red. Either way it's the fire-goddess Pele and it's a Secret Test. Pick her up, and you'll be rewarded. Drive (or walk) by, and misfortune will befall you and/or those you care about.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: One of the stories involving Hi'iaka has her meeting the spirit of a young woman who was missing her limbs (having died a very violent death), near a tide pool (while looking for food). Hi'iaka gives her a lei filled with mana, and she comes back to life and gets her limbs back, and is able to outrun the lava sent up by Pele.
  • "Just So" Story: The volcano goddess Pele raised the archipelago out of the ocean one by one in an attempt to outrun her sister the sea-goddess, who kept flooding the islands. Pele's older brother helped her escape, so in gratitude she never lets volcanic steam touch his particular cliffs. Another legend says that Maui pulled the islands up from the ocean floor on a very eventful fishing trip.
    • Māori history has the demigod Maui to explain almost everything. He raised the north island of New Zealand when he caught it while fishing. (It was a stingray. The South island is his canoe.) His greedy brothers chopped it up, creating all the mountains. He stole fire from his grandmother and hid it in a tea tree for later use (Tea tree is very flammable.) When the sun went around too fast, making the days short, he trapped it and beat it half to death with his grandmother's jawbone.
  • Kill the God: The prophet Lanikaula defeated and killed the Pahulu, gods of sorcery that used to dwell on the island of Moloka'i.
  • Living Lava: Hawaiian mythology has Pele, a volcanic goddess who embodies the main volcano, who knows when incautious visitors have taken away rocks from her sacred place and left the island with them. There are stories of the volcano goddess's vengeance manifesting in bad luck and ill-fortune to such people - until the stolen rocks are returned. The relevant authority in Hawaii testifies that it regularly receives parcels of volcanic rock, anonymously, to be returned to the volcano goddess with apologies.
  • Lord of the Ocean: Tangaroa is the sea deity of many South Pacific cultures, who often also tribute him with having fathered all fishes. In Hawaii, he is known as the octopus god Kanaloa, and is also associated with magic and the Underworld due to the connections with the murky and mysterious depths of the ocean.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Whiro the Māori God of Evil, by way of devouring all that exists. The only thing that he cannot consume is ash, so it's believed the dead should be burned to spite him.
  • Pig Man: Kamapua'a, a demigod from Hawaiian mythology. He was rather The Trickster and shared a (very) tragic relationship with Pele. Their Belligerent Sexual Tension almost destroyed both of them.
  • Primordial Chaos: In some Pacific Island myths, instead of darkness there was light, and a rock. This rock split into 12 brother gods who made the world. Another myth states the world was completely underwater and a deity rose the island chain and threw the basket to make another island.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
    • On Hi'iaka's journey, she has to fight off giant monitor lizards with mana contained in her skirt.
    • The tuatara, New Zealand's ancient reptile unrelated to anything else alive today, is traditionally associated with Whiro, the God of Evil. But in recent years Maori have dissassociated it from him, in order to prommote its protection.
  • Restrained Revenge: The snow-goddess Poliahu takes revenge on her fiance Aiwohikupua after he stood her up at their wedding because he wasn't quite over his ex yet. She afflicts his other lover Hina actually a form of Pele; this is a major reason these goddesses don't get along with chills. The kahuna take Hina down the mountain to a sunny spot to warm her up, at which point Poliahu switches Hina's chills to fever. Aiwohikupua decides he'd better go talk to Poliahu, and while he's on the mountain, he too is afflicted with chills and then fever. He begs the angry goddess for mercy, and she shakes her head at him and goes back up to the summit of Mauna Kea by herself. Hina decides it's too dangerous to continue the relationship and breaks up with Aiwohikupua, who himself becomes Persona Non Grata because of his dishonesty.
  • Sinister Stingrays: Manta rays were regularly portrayed as evil in Polynesian mythology. Legends described them using their cloak-like bodies to drown pearl divers or even kidnapping children.
  • Shark Man: Polynesian legends believed in sharks that could take human form and even have shapeshifting kids with human wives:
    • One Hawai'ian legend had a shark who repeatedly attacked women off a specific coast, but eluded capture. The hero of the story ran into a man who always hung out there. After he managed to fatally wound the shark, it turned out to have been that man, who died and turned into a shark-like stone.
    • The fire goddess Pele also has a brother called Kamohoalii who takes the form of a shark.
  • Taken for Granite: Hi'iaka's mortal friend Hopoe, after Pele got impatient waiting for Hi'iaka to bring back the young chief she hooked up with at a party several weeks earlier.
  • Tentacled Terror: In the Hawaiian creation myth the sun was imprisoned in the ocean by a gargantuan octopus, who was slain by a god.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Pele and her sister Poli'ahu, partly because they are diametrically-opposed elemental forces, but mostly because they often competed for the affections of the same mortal men.
  • The Trickster: Maui, the demigod from Polynesian mythology, famously depicted in Moana. Among his achievements were stealing fire from the Underworld / (the island goddess Te Fiti's heart in Moana), fishing out New Zealand (and the Hawaiian Islands, and basically every island Polynesians live on) from the ocean, and lassoing the sun so it wouldn't streak across the sky so quickly. "Lassoing" isn't the full story; he also beat the living crap out of the Sun until it agreed to slow down.
  • War God: Hawaiian mythology has Ku. He kind of looks like Beavis and Butthead.

Alternative Title(s): Oceanian Mythology, Pacific Islands Mythology