New Zealand: Make Maui's Fish Hook

Create Maui's magic fish hook using a classic salt dough recipe and learn the story of Aotearoa.

Maui's Fish Hook Printable
Click to download the Maui Fish Hook Activity printable from the resources page

Maui's Magic Fish Hook

In English, the names for the two main islands in New Zealand are the north island and the south island. Pretty boring, right?! In Maori, the name of the South Island is Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of greenstone) and the North Island is Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui).

If you turn a map of New Zealand upside down, you can see how the North Island looks a bit like a fish – or a stingray!

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Maui caught Te Ika a Maui with his magic fish hook. If you want to learn more of the legend, I highly recommend you read Peter Gossage’s book, The Fish of Maui.

In this craft, you will create your own version of Maui’s fish hook.

you will need: 


  1. Print out the Maui’s Fish Hook template

  2. Let the creating begin. Using the salt dough, start shaping your fish hook. The fish hook template that we’ve provided is a really great guide if you’re not sure where to start, otherwise, let your creativity run away with you!

  3. Using the instructions on our Salt Dough recipe printable, bake your salt dough to set it. Once set, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

  4. While you are waiting for your fish hook to bake, take 3x 1m lengths of gardeners twine, tie a knot in one end and plait the gardeners twine.

  5. Once your Fish Hook is cool you can choose whether or not you want to seal it. If you do, the now is the time. Follow the instructions on the sealant you are using.

  6. Finally, time to tie the plaited twine onto your fish hook. Depending on what your fish hook looks like, wind the twine around the handle of the fish hook and secure.

  7. All done! You now have a fish hook just like the one Maui used to catch Te Ika-a-Maui!!

Over thousands of years, the flesh of the giant fish became the mountains and valleys of of Aotearoa as we know it today. Birds, plants, animals and people populated the giant fish of Māui. In time Māui's giant fish became known as the North Island of Aotearoa, and Māui's canoe the South island.