Scrape the seeds from the centre of vanilla bean halves. Combine the sugar, maple syrup vanilla beans and seeds, water, orange juice in a deep, medium size saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to low.
Add the pears, bring the syrup back to a very gentle simmer. Press a sheet baking paper onto the surface of the pears. Cook, turning occasionally, for 40-45 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove pears and vanilla beans to a tray.
Increase heat to high, boil the syrup, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until thicken and syrupy.
Place the pears on serving plates. Drizzle with syrup and serve with shortbread and cream or ice-cream.