The legends and myths of Polynesia

The legends and myths of Polynesia: an incomparable cultural richness


Polynesia is a region of the world that many travelers dream of with its white sand beaches, turquoise waters and coconut palms. But it also has an incomparable cultural richness, which manifests itself in particular through its legends and myths. Over the centuries, these stories have been passed down from generation to generation, helping to forge the identity of the Polynesian peoples. In this article, we will explore some of the most famous legends and myths of Polynesia.

Creation legends

Creation legends tell how the world was created. Through these stories, the Polynesians sought to make sense of their environment and their traditions. One of the most famous legends is that of Maui, a demigod who supposedly created the world by fishing the islands with his magic hook. According to legend, Maui grabbed the islands one by one from the ocean floor, and lined them up to form the archipelago of Polynesia.

Another creation legend known as “Te-Manava” tells the story of the birth of man and the universe. The legend tells how a goddess named Papa, or Earth, gave birth to a son named Rangi, who became the sky. The two united to form life.

legends of the sea

The sea was at the center of Polynesian life, which saw in it a precious gift from the gods. Sea legends celebrate the beauty and power of the ocean, and the wisdom needed to navigate and fish safely. Among the most famous are those of the demigods Tangaroa and Kanaloa, who were worshiped as guardians of the ocean.

Another sea legend tells the story of Hina, the moon goddess. According to legend, Hina traveled across the ocean to find the treasure of the sea, which turned out to be a magical pearl of rare beauty. Polynesians believed that pearls represented the moon and were a symbol of prosperity and luck.

legends of the gods

Polynesians believed in a large number of gods, each with specific powers and domains. Legends of the gods often explain the origins of islands, plants and animals. Among the most important gods are Tangaroa, the god of the sea, and Tiki, the creator god.

The Legend of Maui, mentioned earlier, also features a demigod, Maui. According to legend, Maui stole fire from the gods to bring light to the people of Earth. The legend also explains why the roosters crow every morning.

The role of legends and myths in Polynesian culture

Legends and myths are at the heart of Polynesian culture. Over the centuries, they have shaped the traditions, beliefs and practices of the region. Legends played an important role in passing on knowledge and experiences to subsequent generations. These stories have contributed to the formation of the identity of the inhabitants of the islands of Polynesia.

Polynesians used legends to explain natural phenomena, such as volcanic eruptions and tides. They also used myths to recount the exploits of gods and heroes who shaped the history of the region. The legends were transmitted through songs, dances and oral recitations.

The legends and myths of Polynesia today

Today, the legends and myths of Polynesia continue to fascinate travelers from all over the world. Polynesian literature is rich in stories that depict local culture and traditions. Craig Cliff’s novel “Mataora” tells a love story through the eyes of a Polynesian warrior. “Myths and legends of Polynesia” by Roland Pourrat presents a collection of traditional Polynesian legends, while “The Rainbow Seer” by Jonahmaï evokes the mythology of the South Pacific.

Polynesia’s cultural festivals, such as the Marquesas Festival, are another way to carry on the traditions of the past. Visitors can witness traditional dances, songs and ceremonies that celebrate Polynesian culture.


The legends and myths of Polynesia represent an immense cultural richness, evoking a unique vision of the world that has shaped the history of the region. These stories have played an important role in transmitting knowledge and traditions to subsequent generations. Today, they continue to fascinate travelers who seek to discover the culture and traditions of the inhabitants of Polynesia. The legends and myths of Polynesia are an endless source of inspiration for anyone interested in art, literature and philosophy.