Maui is a tone poem based on the legend of Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga fishing up what became known as the North Island of New Zealand. The piece emphasises Maui’s strength and determination, rather than a mischievous nature, and consists of three sections representing the respective chronological parts to the story: ‘The Journey’, ‘The Catch’ and ‘The Surface’.

‘The Journey’ begins with an introduction that evokes the dawn, when Maui’s brothers set out in their canoe for a day of fishing, with Maui hidden. Maui soon reveals himself, as indicated by the central theme, and joins in the steady journey towards the fishing spot. As his brothers start to tire, Maui drives them further out into the ocean before eventually dropping anchor. ‘The Catch’ starts with a quiet introduction of the second theme, which represents Maui’s inactivity from being excluded by his brothers as they proceed to fish. In determination, Maui prepares his hook from his grandfather’s jawbone, casts the line and waits. The tugging on the line, as characterised by jittery strings, springs Maui and his brothers into action, hauling the gigantic fish towards the surface.

This leads to the final section, ‘The Surface’, which depicts the fish being brought to the surface of the now turbulent water, Maui’s brothers carving up the fish prematurely despite Maui’s warnings, and the subsequent writhing of the fish in agony before it ‘sets’. This ‘setting’ is intended to represent a shift in perspective of time rather than the fish dying (as geological activity suggests). The link to today’s geographical reality is provided by the return to the central theme that concludes the piece.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Flutes I, II, III (shared with piccolo)
Oboe I, II
Clarinets I, II in Bb
Bassoon I, II
Horns I, II, III, IV in F
Trumpets I, II, III in Bb
Trombones I, II, III
Toms, Kick Drum, Crash Cymbal
Violin I
Violin II
Double Bass