Māui is remembered in Māori narrative as a change maker, a challenger of boundaries and a trickster. However, in the 21st century these characteristics are likely to be frowned upon rather than celebrated in Aotearoa New Zealand’s education system. Māori students experiencing complex needs, like Māui, are known for pushing the boundaries. Rather than signalling strength of character, these characteristics are frequently viewed as deficits. This article discusses research with five Year 10 mainstream Māori students experiencing complex needs in their lives, and how shape-shifting, as a positive mechanism, allowed the participants to enact their identities in different ways and in different contexts. Using Pūrākau, a Māori narrative qualitative research methodology, the pūrākau of the participants, whose experiences or stories have been unrecognised or unheard, are privileged (Lee, 2005, 2008). Overall, the participants wanted professionals to get to know them for who they are, know that they have life aspirations and know that they are proud to be Māori.