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Tinirau is a guardian of the sharks and fishes. Grey Nurse Shark silhouette at Fish Rock Cave, NSW.jpg
Tinirau is a guardian of the sharks and fishes.

In Polynesian mythology, stories about Tinirau are found throughout the islands of Polynesia. He is a guardian of fish. Many themes recur in the various versions. Often he travels to another land in search of his wife, or his wife travels to another land in search of him; sometimes he treats his wife badly, or she rejects him; while he is guardian of fish, it is his wife who gives the fish their individual characteristics. Sometimes their anxious or jealous relatives try to separate the lovers (Tremewan 2002:120).


In some traditions, he has a dual nature; one destructive as the guardian of sharks, and one a kind, handsome male youth; in others, his right side is human and his left side is a fish. Alternate names in the various Polynesian languages include Kinilau , Sinilau, Tigilau, and Tinilau.

In Samoa

Stories about Tinilau (or Tigilau) and his wife Sina are very popular in Samoa. There are numerous legends, and much variation in the tellings (Tremewan 2002:157). Here are some examples:

See also

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