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- “I wasn't born a demigod. I had human parents. They... uhhh.... took one look, and decided..... they did not want me. They threw me into the sea... like I was... nothing.”
- ―Maui about his parents.
According to Maui, they took one look at him after his birth and decided they didn't want him as they refuse to bear the difficulties of raising a child. As such, they threw him into the ocean like he was nothing, though he was saved by the gods, who raised him to become a demigod to provide gifts for humanity. Despite earning the humans' admiration and respect for his accomplishments, Maui was very upset that his parents abandoned him for their selfishness, and he despised them for this. It was also the reason why Maui chose to steal the heart of Te Fiti, as he wanted to give it to the humans to be remembered as the human he once was, though he would later regret this during the movie's events.
The character of Maui is based on the Polynesian culture hero named Māui and his parentage, like his story, varies from the different locations of Polynesia. The story presented in the movie is based on the Māori telling of Māui’s origins.
In Māori mythology, is the son of Taranga, the wife of Makeatutara. Māui was born prematurely, so Taranga wrapped his body in the hair of her topknot (tikitiki) — hence Māui is known as Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, and threw him into the waves. Ocean spirits find and wrap the child in seaweed and some sea-creatures cared for him, hiding him in kelp until a storm sent him back to the beach. His divine ancestor, Tama-nui-te-ra (or Rangi) then takes the child, brings him back to life, educates him and nourishes him to adolescence, where Maui later returns to his family.
The legends of Raro-Toaga state that Māui's father and mother were the children of Tangaroa (The god of the Sea, called Kanaloa in Hawaiian), the great god worshiped throughout Polynesia. There were three Māui brothers and one sister, Ina-ika (Ina, the fish).
The legends of Mangareva, Māui’s father was Ataraga; his mother, Uaega. In those legends, he is born from his mother's navel, and is raised by his grandfather, Te Rupe, who gives him a magic staff named Atua-tane, and a hatchet named Iraiapatapata.
In another legend Ru, the supporter of the Heavens, married Buataranga, the guardian of the lower world. Their one child was Māui.
In Hawaiian mythology, Māui is one of the Kupua (A group of immortal demigods and heroic tricksters.), in the Kumulipo he is the son of ʻAkalana and his wife Hina-a-ke-ahi (Hina, a sea goddess as well as the goddess of the moon). Elsewhere Ina, or Hina, was the grandmother, from whom he secured fire.
In other legends legends, Akalana was the name by which his mother was known. Kanaloa (God of the Underworld and Magic. Is also called Tangaroa, god of the Sea), is sometimes known as the father of Māui.