Mysterious things happen in Hawaiki: people turn into birds, fish gather in armies, people descend to the underworld and ascend to the heavens. Hawaiki is a paradise where the gods live and perform miraculous deeds. The story of the creation of Hawaiki has been described by the Reverend Māori Marsden:
In the night regions of soft light, Io established the several Hawaiki: Hawaiki-nui, Hawaiki-roa, Hawaiki-pāmamao, Hawaiki-tapu (great Hawaiki, extensive Hawaiki, far distant Hawaiki, and sacred Hawaiki) in which Io chose to dwell with his divine assistants. The Hawaiki became the abode of gods and heroes. But no one, other gods included, could enter Hawaiki-tapu for it was sacred to Io. The other Hawaiki were also sacred and in ancient times were not mentioned in common talk except by oblique reference as Tawhiti-nui, Tawhiti-roa, Tawhiti-pāmamao. 1
Another story holds that the creation of the first human took place in Hawaiki. Here is the account of Hūkiki Te Ahukaramū of Ōtaki:
Ka awatea te rā, ka mea a Tāne-nui-a-rangi, ki te wahine māna. Ka kī atu a Papa, ‘Haere ki a Hine-tua-oni, ahuahua e koe kia whakatangatatia.’ … Ka mahia, kātahi ka puta mai hei tangata. 2
Day came forth and Tāne-great-of-the-heavens desired that he should have a woman. Earth said to him, ‘Go to Hine-tua-oni, there to fashion a human.’ … He worked these items and fashioned a human.
One of the great characters of Hawaiki is Māui, a figure known throughout Polynesia. Māui is a trickster hero famous for many deeds; amongst them, capturing the sun, fishing up islands, turning into a bird and pursuing his father into the underworld. Such is Māui’s continuing appeal that he remains the central figure in creative and performing arts, and in numerous written and oral stories.