In Samoan legend, Ti'iti'i is the son of Talaga.[1] He goes down to the earthquake-god, Mafui’e, who dwells in the underworld, and, receiving some fire from him, takes it back to the world, and begins to cook. Mafui’e then comes and blows on the fire, scattering it, and breaking up the oven. Ti'iti'i angrily seizes Mafui’e, and they have a wrestling match, in which Ti'iti'i is victorious. As the price of freedom, Mafui’e reveals the secret of fire, telling Ti'iti'i that he will find it in every piece of wood he cut. Since then people have had cooked food. In Samoa however, Ti'iti'i does not snare the sun as Maui does elsewhere; instead, a woman called Mangamangai becomes pregnant by looking at the rising Sun, and a child is born, who is called “Child of the Sun.” He and his mother are dismayed by the rapidity of the Sun's journey, so he makes a noose, catches the Sun, and makes him promise to go more slowly (Tregear 1891:235).

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  1. In Polynesian mythology, Māui is a culture hero, famous for his exploits and his trickery. Ti'iti'i is the Samoan equivalent - the word 'ti'iti'i' appears as an extension of Maui's name in some areas (eg, the Māui-tikitiki of Māori legend).


  • E.R. Tregear, Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (Lyon and Blair: Lambton Quay, 1891).
  • M. Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology (University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu, 1970).

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