- OF -
MA-UI - A DEMI GOD
HIS MOTHER HINA.
W. D. WESTERVELT.
THE HAWAIIAN GAZETTE CO., LTD.
I. Maui's Home 3
II. Maui the Fisherman 12
III. Maui Lifting the Sky 31
IV. Maui Snaring the Sun 40
V. Maui Finding Fire 56
VI. Maui the Skillful 78
VII Maui and Tuna 91
VIII. Maui and His Brother-in-Law 101
IX. Maui's Kite-Flying 112
X. Oahu Legends of Maui 119
X1. Maui Seeking Immortality 128
XIL Hina of Hilo 139
XIII. Hina and the Wailuku Rivcr 146
XIV. The Ghosts of the Hilo Hills 155
XV. Hina, the Woman in the Moon 165
HELPS TO PRONOUNCIATION
There are three simple rules which practically control
Hawaiian pronunciation: (1) Give each vowel the German sound.
(2) Pronounce each vowel. (3) Never allow a consonant to close
Interchangeable consonants are many. The following
are the most common: h=s; l=r; k=t; n=ng; v=w.
Maui is a demi god whose name should probably be pronounced
Ma-u-i, i. e., Ma-oo-e. The meaning of the word is by
no means clear. It may mean "to live," "to subsist."
It may refer to beauty and strength, or it may have the idea
of "the left hand" or "turning aside." The
word is recognized as belonging to remote Polynesian antiquity.
MacDonald, a writer of the New Hebrides Islands, gives the
derivation of the name Maui primarily from, the Arabic word "Mohyi,"
which means "causing to: live" or "life,"
applied sometimes to the gods and sornetimes to chiefs as "preservers
and sustainers" of theirfollowers.
The Maui story probably contains a larger number of unique
and ancient myths than that of any other legendary character
in the mythology of any nation.
There are three centers for these legends, New Zealand in
the south, Hawaii in the north, and the Tahitian group including
the Hervey Islands in the east. In each of these groups of islands,
separated by thousands of miles, there are the same legends,
told in almost the same way, and with very little variation in
names. The intermediate groups of islands of even as great importance
as Tonga, Fiji or Samoa, possess the same legends in more or
less of a fragmentarv condition, as if the three centers had
been settled first when the Polynesians were driven away from
the Asiatic coasts by their enemies, the Malays. From these centers
voyagers sailing away in search of adventures would carry fragments
rather than complete legends. This is exactly what has been done
and there are as a result a large number of hints of wonderful
deeds. The really long legends as told about the demi god Ma-u-i
and his mother Hina number about twenty.
It is remarkable that these legends have kept their individuality.
The Polynesians are not a very clannish people. For some centuries
they have not been in the habit of frequently visiting each other.
They have had no written language, and picture writing of any
kind is exceedingly rare throughout Polynesia and yet in physical
traits, national customs, domestic habits, and language, as well
as in traditions and myths, the different inhabitants of the
islands of Polynesia are as near of kin as the cousins of the
United States and Great Britain.
The Maui legends form one of the strongest links in the mythological
chain of evidence which binds the scattered inhabitants of the
Pacific into one nation. An incomplete list aids in making clear
the fact that groups of islands hundreds and even thousands of
miles apart have been peopled centuries past by the same organic
race. Either complete or fragmentary Maui legends are found in
the single islands and island groups of Aneityum, Bowditch or
Fakaofa, Efate, Fiji, Fotuna, Gilbert, Hawaii, Hervey, Huahine,
Mangaia, Manihiki, Marquesas, Marshall, Nauru, New Hebrides,
New Zealand, Samoa, Savage, Tahiti or Society, Tauna, Tokelau
S. Percy Smith of New Zealand in his book Hawaiki mentions
a legend according to which Maui made a voyage after overcoming
a sea monster, visiting the Tongas, the Tahitian group, Vai-i
or Hawaii, and the Paumotu Islands. Then Maui went on to U-peru,
which Mr. Smith says "may be Peru." It was said that
Maui named some of the islands of the Hawaiian group, calling
the island Maui "Maui-ui in remembrance of his efforts in
lifting up the heavens," Hawaii was named Vai-i, and Lanai
was called Ngangai-as if Maui had found the three most southerly
islands of the group.
The Maui legends possess remarkable antiquity. Of course,
it is impossible to give any definite historical date, but there
can scarcely be any question of their origin among the ancestors
of the Polynesians before they scattered over the Pacific ocean.
They belong to the prehistoric Polynesians. The New Zealanders
claim Maui as an ancestor of their most ancient tribes and sometimes
class him among the most ancient of their gods, calling him "creator
of land" and "creator of man." Tregear, in a paper
before the New Zealand Institute, said that Maui was sometimes
thought to be "the sun himself," "the solar fire,"
"the sun god," while his mother Hina was called "the
moon goddess." The noted greenstone god of the Maoris of
New Zealand, Potiki, may well be considered a representation
of Maui-Tiki-Tiki, who was sometimes called Maui-po-tiki.
Whether these legends came to the people in their sojourn
in India before they migrated to the Straits of Sunda is not
certain; but it may well be assumed that these stories had taken
firm root in the memories of the priests who transmitted the
most important traditions from generation to generation, and
that this must have been done before they were driven away from
the Asiatic coasts by the Malays.
Several hints of Hindoo connection is found in the Maui legends.
The Polynesians not only ascribed human attributes to all animal
life with which they were acquainted, but also carried the idea
of an alligator or dragon with them, wherever they went, as in
the mo-o of the story Tuna-roa.
The Polynesians also had the idea of a double soul inhabiting
the body. This is carried out in the ghost legends more fully
than in the Maui stories, and yet "the spirit separate from
the spirit which never forsakes man" according to Polynesian
ideas, was a part of the Maui birth legends. This spirit, which
can be separated or charmed away from the body by incantations
was called the "hau," When Maui's father performed
the religious ceremonies over him which would protect him and
cause him to be successful, he forgot a part of his incantation
to the "hau," therefore Maui lost his protection from
death when he sought immortality for himself and all mankind.
How much these things aid in proving a Hindoo or rather Indian
origin for the Polynesians is uncertain, but at least they are
of interest along the lines of race origin.
The Maui group of legends is preminently peculiar. They are
not only different from the myths of other nations, but they
are unique in the character of the actions recorded. Maui's deeds
rank in a higher class than most of the mighty efforts of the
demi gods of other nations and races, and are usually of more
utility. Hercules accomplished nothing to compare with "lifting
the sky," "snaring the sun," "fishing for
islands," "finding fire in his grandmother's finger-nails,"
"learning from birds how to make fire by rubbing dry sticks,"
or "getting a magic bone" from the jaw of an ancestor
who was half dead, that is dead on one side and therefore could
well afford to let the bone on that side go for the benefit of
a descendant. The Maui legends are full of helpful imaginations,
which are distinctly Polynesian.
The phrase "Maui of the Malo" is used among the
Hawaiians in connection with the name Maui a Kalana, "Maui
the son of Akalana." It may be well to note the origin of
the name. It was said that Hina usually sent her retainers to
gather sea moss for her, but one morning she went down to the
sea by herself. There she found a beautiful red malo, which she
wrapped around her as a pa-u or skirt. When she showed it to
Akalana, her husband, he spoke of it as a gift of the gods, thinking
that it meant the gift of Maria or spiritual power to their child
when he should be born. In this way the Hawaiians explain the
superior talent and miraculous ability of Maui which placed him
above his brothers.
These stories were originally printed as magazine articles,
chiefly in the Paradise of the Pacific, Honolulu; therefore there
are sometimes repetitions which it seemed best to leave, even
when reprinted in the present form.
FOUR BROTHERS, each bearing the name
of Maui, belong to Hawaiian legend. They accomplished little
as a family, except on special occasions when the youngest of
the household awakened his brothers by some unexpected trick
which drew them into unwonted action. The legends of Hawaii,
Tonga, Tahiti, New Zealand and the Hervey group make this youngest
Maui "the discoverer of fire" or "the ensnarer
of the sun" or "the fisherman who pulls up islands"
or "the man endowed with magic," or "Maui with
spirit power." The legends vary somewhat, of course, but
not as much as might be expected when the thousands of miles
between various groups of islands are taken into consideration.
Maui was one of the Polynesian demi-gods. His parents belonged
to the family of supernatural beings. He himself was possessed
of supernatural powers and was supposed to make use of all manner
of enchantments. In New Zealand antiquity a Maui was said to
have assisted other gods in the creation of man. Nevertheless
Maui was very human. He lived in thatched houses, had wives and
children, and was scolded by the women for not properly supporting
The time of his sojourn among men is very indefinite. In Hawaiian
genealogies Maui and his brothers were placed among the descendants
of Ulu and "the sons of Kii," and Maui was one of the
ancestors of Kamehameha, the first king of the united Hawaiian
Islands. This would place him in the seventh or eighth century
of the Christian Era. But it is more probable that Maui belongs
to the mist-land of time. His mischievous pranks with the various
gods would make him another Mercury living in any age from the
creation to the beginning of the Christian era.
The Hervey Island legends state that Maui's father was "the
supporter of the heavens" and his mother "the guardian
of the road to the invisible world."
In the Hawaiian chant, Akalana was the name of his father.
In other groups this was the name by which his mother was known.
Kanaloa, the god, is sometimes known as the father of Maui. In
Hawaii Hina was his mother. Elsewhere Ina, or Hina, was the grandmother,
from whom he secured fire.
The Hervey Island legends say that four mighty ones lived
in the old world from which their ancestors came. This old world
bore the name Ava-iki, which is the same as Hawa-ii, or Hawaii.
The four gods were Mauike, Ra, Ru, and Bua-Taranga.
It is interesting to trace the connection of these four names
with Polynesian mythology. Mauike is the same as the demi-god
of New Zealand, Mafuike. On other islands the name is spelled
Mauika, Mafuika, Mafuia, Mafuie, and Mahuika. Ra, the sun god
of Egypt, is the same as Ra in New Zealand and La (sun) in Hawaii.
Ru, the supporter of the heavens, is probably the Ku of Hawaii,
and the Tu of New Zealand and other islands, one of the greatest
of the gods worshiped by the ancient Hawaiians. The fourth mighty
one from Ava-ika was a woman, Bua-taranga, who guarded the path
to the underworld. Talanga in Samoa, and Akalana in Hawaii were
the same as Taranga. Pua-kalana (the Kalana flower) would probably
be the same in Hawaiian as Bua-taranga in the language of the
Ru, the supporter of the Heavens, married Buataranga, the
guardian of the lower world. Their one child was Maui. The legends
of Raro-Toaga state that Maui's father and mother were the children
of Tangaroa (Kanaloa in Hawaiian), the great god worshiped throughout
Polynesia. There were three Maui brothers and one sister, Ina-ika
(Ina, the fish).
The New Zealand legends relate the incidents of the babyhood
Maui was prematurely born, and his mother, not, caring to
be troubled with him, cut off a lock of her hair, tied it around
him and cast him into the sea. In this way the name came to him,
Maui-Tiki-Tiki, or "Maui formed in the topknot." The
waters bore him safely. The jelly fish enwrapped and mothered
him. The god of the seas cared for and protected him. He was
carried to the god's house and hung up in the roof that he inight
feel the warm air of the fire, and be cherished into life. When
he was old enough, he came to his relations while they were all
gathered in the great House of Assembly, dancing and making merry.
Little Maui crept in and sat down behind his brothers. Soon his
mother called the children and found a strange child, who proved
that he was her son, and was taken in as one of the family. Some
of the brothers were jealous, but the eldest addressed the others
"Never mind; let him be our dear brother. In the days
of peace remember the proverb, 'When you are on friendly terms,
settle your disputes in a friendly way; when you are at war,
you must redress your injuries by violence.' It is better for
us, brothers, to be kind to other people. These are the ways
by which men gain influence-by laboring for abundance of food
to feed others, by collecting property to give to others, and
by similar means by which you promote the good of others."
Thus, according to the New Zealand story related by Sir George
Grey, Maui was received in his home.
Maui's home was placed by some of the Hawaiian myths at Kauiki,
a foothill of the great extinct crater Haleakala, on the Island
of Maui. It was here he lived when the sky was raised to its
present position. Here was located the famous fort around which
many battles were fought during the years immediately preceding
the coming of Captain Cook. This fort was held by warriors of
the Island of Hawaii a number of years. It was from this home
that Maui was supposed to have journeyed when he climbed Mt.
Haleakala to ensnare the sun.
And yet most of the Hawaiian legends place Maui's home by
the rugged black lava beds of the Wailuku river near Hilo on
the island Hawaii. Here he lived when he found the way to make
fire by rubbing sticks together, and when he killed Kuna, the
great eel, and performed other feats of valor. He was supposed
to cultivate the land on the north side of the river. His mother,
usually known as Hina, had her home in a lava cave under the
beautiful Rainbow Falls, one of the fine scenic attractions of
Hilo. An ancient demigod, wishing to destroy this home, threw
a great mass of lava across the stream below the falls. The rising
water was fast filling the cave.
Hina called loudly to her powerful son Maui. He came quickly
and found that a large and strong ridge of lava lay across the
stream. One end rested against a small hill. Maui struck the
rock on the other side of the hill and thus broke a new pathway
for the river. The water swiftly flowed away and the cave remained
as the home of the Maui family.
According to the King Kalakaua family legend, translated by
Queen Liliuokalani, Maui and his brothers also made this place
their home. Here he aroused the anger of two uncles, his mother's
brothers, who were called "Tall Post" and "Short
Post," because they guarded the entrance to a cave in which
the Maui family probably had its home.
"They fought hard with Maui, and were thrown, and red
water flowed freely from Maui's forehead. This was the first
shower by Maui." Perhaps some farmily discipline followed
this knocking down of door posts, for it is said:
Maui's mother, so says a New Zealand legend, had her home
in the under-world as well as with her children. Maui determined
to find the hidden dwelling place. His mother would meet the
children in the evening and lie down to sleep with them and then
disappear with the first appearance of dawn. Maui remained awake
one night, and when all were asleep, arose quietly and stopped
up every crevice by which a ray of light could enter. The morning
came and the sun mounted up-far up in the sky. At last his mother
leaped up and tore away the things which shut out the light.
"Oh, dear; oh, dear! She saw the sun high in the heavens;
so she hurried away, crying at the thought of having been so
badly treated by her own children."
Maui watched her as she pulled up a tuft of grass and disappeared
in the earth, pulling the grass back to its place.
Thus Maui found the path to the under-world. Soon he transformed
himself into a pigeon and flew down, through the cave, until
he saw a party of people under a sacred tree, like those growing
in the ancient first Hawaii. He flew to the tree and threw down
berries upon the people. They threw back stones. At last he permitted
a stone from his father to strike him, and he fell to the ground.
"They ran to catch him but lo! the pigeon had turned into
Then his father "took him to the water to be baptized"
(possibly a modern addition to the legend). Prayers were offered
and ceremonies passed through. But the prayers were incomplete
and Maui's father knew that the gods would be angry and cause
Maui's death, and all because in the hurried baptism a part of
the prayers had been left unsaid. Then Maui returned to the upper
world and lived again with his brothers.
Maui commenced his mischievous life early, for Hervey Islanders
say that one day the children were playing a game dearly loved
by Polynesians- hide-and-seek. Here a sister enters into the
game and hides little Maui under a pile of dry sticks. His brothers
could not find him, and the sister told them where to look. The
sticks were carefully handled, but the child could not be found.
He had shrunk himself so small that he was like an insect under
some sticks and leaves. Thus early he began to use enchantments.
Maui's home, at the best, was only a sorry affair. Gods and
demigods lived in caves and small grass houses. The thatch rapidly
rotted and required continual renewal. In a very short time the
heavy rains beat through the decaying roof. The home was without
windows or doors, save as low openings in the ends or sides allowed
entrance to those willing to crawl through. Off on one side would
be the rude shelter, in the shadow of which Hma pounded the bark
of certain trees into wood pulp and then into strips of thin,
soft wood-paper, which bore the name of "Tapa cloth."
This cloth Hina prepared for the clothing of Maui and his brothers.
Tapa cloth was often treated to a coat of cocoa-nut, or candle-nut
oil, making it somewhat waterproof and also more durable.
Here Maui lived on edible roots and fruits and raw fish, knowing
little about cooked food, for the art of fire making was not
yet known. In later years Maui was supposed to live on the eastern
end of the island Maui, and also in another home on the large
island Hawaii, on which he discovered how to make fire by rubbing
dry sticks together. Maui was the Polynesian Mercury. As a little
fellow he was endowed with peculiar powers, permitting him to
become invisible or to change his human form into that of an
animal. He was ready to take anything from any one by craft or
force. Nevertheless, like the thefts of Mercury, his pranks usually
It is a little curious that around the different homes of
Maui, there is so little record of temples and priests and altars.
He lived too far back for priestly customs. His story is the
rude, mythical survival of the days when of church and civil
government there was none and worship of the gods was practically
unknown, but every man was a law unto himself, and also to the
other man, and quick retaliation followed any injury received.
MAUI THE FISHERMAN
"Oh the great fish hook of Maui!
Manai-i-ka-lani 'Made fast to the heavens' - its name;
An earth-twisted cord ties the hook.
Engulfed from the lofty Kauiki.
Its bait the red billed Alae,
The bird made sacred to Hina.
It sinks far down to Hawaii,
Struggling and painfully dying.
Caught is the land under the water,
Floated up, up to the surface,
But Hina hid a wing of the bird
And broke the land under the water.
Below, was the bait snatched away
And eaten at once -by the fishes,
The Ulua of the deep muddy places."
--Chant of Kualii, about A. D. 1700.
ONE of Maui's homes was near Kauiki,
a place woll known throughout the Hawaiian Islands because of
its strategic importance. For many years it was the site of a
fort around which fierce battles were fought by the natives of
the island Maui, repelling the invasions of their neighbors from
Haleakala (the House of the Sun), the mountain from which
Maui the demi-god snared the sun, looks down ten thousand feet
upon the Kauiki headland. Across the channel from Haleakala rises
Mauna Kea, "The White Mountain"-the snow-capped-which
almost all the year round rears its white head in majesty among
In the snowy breakers of the surf which washes the beach below
these mountains, are broken coral reefs-the fishing grounds of
the Hawaiians. Here near Kauiki, according to some Hawaiian legends,
Maui's mother Hina had her grass house and made and dried her
kapa cloth. Even to the present day it is one of the few places
in the islands where the kapa is still pounded into sheets from
the bark of the hibiscus and kindred trees.
Here is a small bay partially reef-protected, over which year
after year the moist clouds float and by day and by night crown
the waters with rainbows-the legendary sign of the home of the
deified ones. Here when the tide is out the natives wade and
swim, as they have done for centuries, from coral block to coral
block, shunning the deep resting places of their dread enemy,
the shark, sometimes esteemed divine. Out on the edge of the
outermost reef they seek the shellfish which cling to the coral,
or spear the large fish which have been left in the beautiful
little lakes of the reef. Coral land is a region of the sea coast
abounding in miniature lakes and rugged valleys and steep mountains.
Clear waters with every motion of the tide surge in and out through
sheltered caves and submarine tunnels, according to an ancient
Sea mosses of many hues are the forests which drape the hillsides
of coral land and reflect the colored rays of light which pierce
the ceaselessly moving waves. Down in the beautiful little lakes,
under overhanging coral cliffs, darting in and out through the
fringes of seaweed, the purple mullet and royal red fish flash
before the eyes of the fisherman. Sometimes the many-tinted glorious
fish of paradise reveal their beauties, and then again a school
of black and gold citizens of the reef follow the tidal waves
around projecting crags and through the hidden tunnels from lake
to lake, while above the fisherman follows spearing or snaring
as best he can. Maui's brothers were better fishermen than he.
They sought the deep sea beyond the reef and the larger fish.
They made hooks of bone or of mother of pearl, with a straight,
slender, sharp-pointed piece leaning backward at a sharp angle.
This was usually a consecrated bit of bone or mother of pearl,
and was supposed to have peculiar power to hold fast any fish
which had taken the bait.
These bones were usually taken from the body of some one who
while living had been noted for great power or high rank. This
sharp piece was tightly tied to the larger bone or shell, which
formed the shank of the hook. The sacred barb of Maui's hook
was a part of the magic bone he had secured from his ancestors
in the under-world-the bone with which he struck the sun while
lassooing him and compelling him to move more slowly through
"Earth-twisted"-fibres of vines-twisted while growing,
was the cord used by Maui in tying the parts of his magic hook
Long and strong were the fish lines made from the olona fibre,
holding the great fish caught from the depths of the ocean. The
fibres of the olona vine were among the longest and strongest
threads found in the Hawaiian Islands.
Such a hook could easily be cast loose by the struggling fish,
if the least opportunity were given. Therefore it was absolutely
necessary to keep the line taut, and pull strongly and steadily,
to land the fish in the canoe.
Maui did not use his magic hook for a long time. He seemed
to understand that it would not answer ordinary needs. Possibly
the idea of making the supernatural hook did not occur to him
until he had exhausted his lower wit and magic upon his brothers.
It is said that Maui was not a very good fisherman. Sometimes
his end of the canoe contained fish which his brothers had thought
were on their hooks until they were landed in the canoe.
Many times they laughed at him for his poor success, and he
retaliated with his mischievous tricks.
"E!" he would cry, when one of his brothers began
to pull in, while the other brothers swiftly paddled the canoe
forward. "E!" See we both have caught great fish at
the same moment. Be careful now. Your line is loose. Look out!
All the time he would be pulling his own line in as rapidly
as possible. Onward rushed the canoe. Each fisherman shouting
to encourage the others. Soon the lines by the tricky manipulation
of Maul would be crossed. Then as the great fish was brought
near the side of the boat Maui the little, the mischievous one,
would slip his hook toward the head of the fish and flip it over
into the canoe-causing his brother's line to slacken for a moment.
Then his mournful cry rang out: "Oh, my brother, your fish
is gone. Why did you not pull more steadily? It was a fine fish,
and now it is down deep in the waters." Then Maui held up
his splendid catch (from his brother's hook) and received somewhat
suspicious congratulations. But what could they do, Maui was
the smart one of the family.
Their father and mother were both members of,the household
of the gods. The father was "the supporter of the heavens"
and the mother was the guardian of the way to the invisible world,"
but pitifully small and very few were the gifts bestowed upon
their children. Maui's brothers knew nothing beyond the average
home life of the ordinary Hawaiian, and Maui alone was endowed
with the power to work miracles. Nevertheless the student of
Polynesian legends learns that Maui is more widely known than
almost all the demi-gods of all nations as a discoverer of benefits
for his fellows, and these physical rather than spiritual. After
many fishing excursions Maui's brothers seemed to have wit enough
to understand his tricks, and thenceforth they refused to take
him in their canoe when they paddled out to the deep-sea fishing
grounds. Then those who depended upon Maui to supply their daily
needs murmured against his poor success. His mother scolded him
and his brothers ridiculed him.
In some of the Polynesian legends it is said that his wives
and children complained because of his laziness and at last goaded
him into a new effort.
The ex-Queen Liliuokalani, in a translation of what is called
"the family chant," says that Maui's mother sent him
to his father for a hook with which to supply her need.
"Go hence to your father,
'Tis there you find line and hook.
This is the hook-'Made fast to the heavens-'
When the hook catches land
It brings the old seas together.
Bring hither the large Alae,
The bird of Hina.
When Maui had obtained his hook, he tried to go fishing with
his brothers. He leaped on the end of their canoe as they pushed
out into deep water. They were angry and cried out: "This
boat is too small for another Maui." So they threw him off
and made him swim back to the beach. When they returned from
their day's work, they brought back only a shark. Maui told them
if he had been with them better fish would have been upon their
hooks-the Ulua, for instance, or, possibly, the Pimoe-the king
of fish. At last they let him go far out outside the harbor of
Kipahula to a place opposite Ka Iwi o Pele, "The bone of
Pele," a peculiar piece of lava lying near the beach at
Hana on the eastern side of the island Maui. There they fished,but
only sharks were caught. The brothers ridiculed Maui, saying:
"Where are the Ulua, and where is Pimoe?"
Then Maui threw his magic hook into the sea, baited with one
of the Alae birds, sacred to his mother Hina. He used the incantation,
"When I let go my hook with divine power, then I get the
The bottom of the sea began to move. Great waves arose, trying
to carry the canoe away. The fish pulled the canoe two days,
drawing the line to its fullest extent. When the slack began
to come in the line, because of the tired fish, Maui called for
the brothers to pull hard against the coming fish. Soon land
rose out of the water. Maui told them not to look back or the
fish would be lost. One brother did look back-the line slacked,
snapped, and broke, and the land lay behind them in islands.
One of the Hawaiian legends also says that while the brothers
were paddling in full strength, Maui saw a calabash floating
in the water. He lifted it into the canoe, and behold! his beautiful
sister Hina of the sea. The brothers looked, and the separated
islands lay behind them, free from the hook, while Cocoanut Island-the
dainty spot of beauty in Hilo harbor-was drawn up-a little edge
of lava-in later years the home of a cocoanut grove.
The better, the more complete, legend comes from New Zealand,
which makes Maui so mischievous that his brothers refuse his
companionship-and therefore, thrown on his own resources, he
studies how to make a hook which shall catch something worth
while. In this legend Maui is represented as making his own hook
and then pleading with his brothers to let him go with them once
more. But they hardened their hearts against him, and refused
again and again.
Maui possessed the power of changing himself into different
forms. At one time while playing with his brothers he had concealed
himself for them to find. They heard his voice in a corner of
the house-but could not find him. Then under the mats on the
floor, but again they could not find him. There was only an insect
creeping on the floor. Suddenly they saw their little brother
where the insect had been. Then they knew he had been tricky
with them. So in these fishing days he resolved to go back to
his old ways and cheat his brothers into carrying him with them
to the great fishing grounds.
Sir George Gray says that the New Zealand Maui went out to
the canoe and concealed himself as an insect in the bottom of
the boat so that when the early morning light crept over the
waters and his brothers pushed the canoe into the surf they could
not see him. They rejoiced that Maui did not appear, and paddled
away over the waters.
They fished all day and all night and on the morning of the
next day, out from among the fish in the bottom of the boat came
their troublesome brother.
They had caught many fine fish and were satisfied, so thought
to paddle homeward, but their younger brother plead with them
to go out, far out, to the deeper seas and permit him to cast
his hook. He said he wanted larger and better fish than any they
So they paddled to their outermost fishing grounds -but this
did not satisfy Maui-
It was evidently easier to work for him than to argue with
him-therefore far out in the sea they went. The home land disappeared
from view; they could see only the outstretching waste of waters.
Maui urged them out still farther. Then he drew his magic hook
from under his malo or loin-cloth. The brothers wondered what
he would do for bait. The New Zealand legend says that he struck
his nose a mighty blow until the blood gushed forth. When this
blood became clotted, he fastened it upon his hook and let it
down into the deep sea.
Down it went to the very bottom and caught the under world.
It was a mighty fish-but the brothers paddled with all their
might and main and Maui pulled in the line. It was hard rowing
against the power which held the hook down in the sea depths-but
the brothers became enthusiastic over Maui's large fish, and
were generous in their strenuous endeavors. Every muscle was
strained and every paddle held strongly against the sea that
not an inch should be lost. There was no sudden leaping and darting
to and fro, no "give" to the line; no "tremble"
as when a great fish would shake itself in impotent wrath when
held captive by a hook. It was simply a struggle of tense muscle
against an immensely heavy dead weight. To the brothers there
came slowly the feeling that Maui was in one of his strange moods
and that something beyond their former experiences with their
tricky brother was coming to pass.
At last one of the brothers glanced backward. With a scream
of intense terror he dropped his paddle. The others also looked.
Then each caught his paddle and with frantic exertion tried to
force their canoe onward. Deep down in the heavy waters they
pushed their paddles. Out of the great seas the black, ragged
head of a large island was rising like a fish-it seemed to be
chasing them, through the boiling surf. In a little while the
water became shallow around them, and their canoe finally rested
on a black beach.
Maui for some reason left his brothers, charging them not
to attempt to cut up this great fish. But the unwise brothers
thought they would fill the canoe with part of this strange thing
which they had caught. They began to cut up the back and put
huge slices into their canoe. But the great fish-the island-shook
under the blows and with mighty earthquake shocks tossed the
boat of the brothers, and their canoe was destroyed. As they
were struggling in the waters, the great fish devoured them.
The island came up more and more from the waters-but the deep
gashes made by Maui's brothers did not heal-they became the mountains
and valleys stretching from sea to sea.
White of New Zealand says that Maui went down into the underworld
to meet his great ancestress, who was one side dead and one side
alive. From the dead side he took the jaw bone, made a magic
hook, and went fishing. When he let the hook down into the sea,
Thus he pulled up Ao-tea-roa - one of the large islands of
New Zealand. On it were houses, with people around them. Fires
were burning. Maui walked over the island, saw with wonder the
strange men and the mysterious fire. He took fire in his hands
and was burned. He leaped into the sea, dived deep, came up with
the other large island on his shoulders. This island he set on
fire and left it always burning, It is said that the name for
New Zealand given to Captain Cook was Te ika o Maui, "The
fish of Maui." Some New Zealand natives say that he fished
up the island on which dwelt "Great Hina of the Night,"
who finally destroyed Maui while he was seeking immortality.
One legend says that Maui fished up apparently from New Zealand
the large island of the Tongas. He used this chant:
why art Thou
Sulkily biting, biting below!
Beneath the earth
The power is felt,
The foam is seen,
O thou loved grandchild
Of Tangaro a-meha. "
This is an excellent poetical description of the great fish
delaying the quick hard bite. Then the island comes to the surface
and Maui, the beloved grandchild of the Polynesian god Kanaloa,
It was part of one of the legends that Maui changed himself
into a bird and from the heavens let down a line with which he
drew up land, but the line broke, leaving islands rather than
a mainland. About two hundred lesser gods went to the new islands
in a large canoe. The greater gods punished them by making them
Turner, in his book on Samoa, says there were three Mauis,
all brothers. They went out fishing from Rarotonga. One of the
brothers begged the "goddess of the deep rocks" to
let his hooks catch land. Then the island Manahiki was drawn
up. A great wave washed two of the Mauis away. The other Maui
found a great house in which eight hundred gods lived. Here he
made his home until a chief from Rarotonga drove him away. He
fled into the sky, but as he leaped he separated the land into
Other legends of Samoa say that Tangaroa, the great god, rolled
stones from heaven. One became the island Savaii, the other became
Upolu. A god is sometimes represented as passing over the ocean
with a bag of sand. Wherever he dropped a little sand islands
Payton, the earnest and honored missionary of the New Hebrides
Islands, evidently did not know the name Mauitikitiki, so he
spells the name of the fisherman Ma-tshi-ktshi-ki, and gives
the myth of the fishing up of the various islands. The natives
said that Maui left footprints on the coral reefs of each island
where he stood straining and lifting in his endeavors to pull
up each other island. He threw his line around a large island
intending to draw it up and unite it with the one on which he
stood, but his line broke. Then he became angry and divided into
two parts the island on which he stood. This same Maui is recorded
by Mr. Payton as being in a flood which put out one volcano-Maui
seized another, sailed across to a neighboring island and piled
it upon the top of the volcano there, so the fire was placed
out of reach of the flood.
In the Hervey Group of the Tahitian or Society Islands the
same story prevails and the natives point out the place where
the hook caught and a print was made by the foot in the coral
reef. But they add some very mythical details. Maui's magic fish
hook is thrown into the skies, where it continuously hangs, the
curved tail of the constellation which we call Scorpio. Then
one of the gods becoming angry with Maui seized him and threw
him also among the stars. There he stays looking down upon his
people. He has become a fixed part of the scorpion itself.
The Hawaiian myths sometimes represent Maui as trying to draw
the islands together while fishing them out of the sea. When
they had pulled up the island of Kauai they looked back and were
frightened. They evidently tried to rush away from the new monster
and thus broke the line. Maui tore a side out of the small crater
Kaula when trying to draw it to one of the other islands. Three
aumakuas, three fishes supposed to be spirit-gods, guarded Kaula
and defeated his purpose. At Hawaii Cocoanut Island broke off
because Maui pulled too hard. Another place near Hilo on the
large island of Hawaii where the hook was said to have caught
is in the Wailuku river below Rainbow Falls.
Maui went out from his home at Kauiki, fishing with his brothers.
After they had caught some fine fish the brothers desired to
return, but Maui persuaded them to go out farther. Then when
they became tired and determined to go back, he made the seas
stretch out and the shores recede until they could see no land.
Then drawing the magic hook, he baited it with the Alae or sacred
mud hen belonging to his Mother Hina. Queen Liliuokalani's family
chant has the following reference to this myth:
"Maui longed for fish for Hina-akeahi (Hina of the fire,
Go hence to your father,
There you will find line and hook.
Manaiakalani is the book.
Where the islands are caught,
The ancient seas are connected. The great bird Alae is taken,
The sister bird, Of that one of the hidden fire of Maui."
Maui evidently had no scruples against using anything which
would help him carry out his schemes.
He indiscriminately robbed his friends and the gods alike.
Down in the deep sea sank the hook with its struggling bait,
until it was seized by "the land under the water."
But Hina the mother saw the struggle of her sacred bird and
hastened to the rescue. She caught a wing of the bird, but could
not pull the Alae from the sacred hook. The wing was torn off.
Then the fish gathered around the bait and tore it in pieces.
If the bait could have been kept entire, then the land would
have come up in a continent rather than as an island. Then the
Hawaiian group would have been unbroken. But the bait broke-and
the islands came as fragments from the under world.
Maui's hook and canoe are frequently mentioned in the legends.
The Hawaiians have a long rock in the Wailuku river at Hilo which
they call Maui's canoe. Different names were given to Maui's
canoe by the Maoris of New Zealand. "Vine of Heaven,"
"Prepare for the North," "Land of the Receding
Sea." His fish hook bore the name "Plume of Beauty."
On the southern end of Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, there is
a curved ledge of rocks extending out from, the coast. This is
still called by the Maoris "Maui's fish-hook," as if
the magic hook had been so firmly caught in the jaws of the island
that Maui could not disentangle it, but had been compelled to
cut it off from his line.
There is a large stone on the sea coast of North Kohala on
the island of Hawaii which the Hawaiians point out as the place
where Maui's magic hook caught the island and pulled it through
In the Tonga Islands, a place known as Hounga is pointed out
by the natives as the spot where the magic hook canght in the
rocks. The hook itself was said to have been in the possession
of a chief-family for many generations.
Another group of Hawaiian legends, very incomplete, probably
referring to Maui, but ascribed to other names, relates that
a fisherman caught a large block of coral. He took it to his
priest. After sacrificing, and consulting the gods, the priest
advised the fisherman to throw the coral back into the sea with
incantations. While so doing this block became Hawaii-loa. The
fishing continued and blocks of coral were caught and thrown
back into the sea until all the islands appeared. Hints of this
legend cling to other island groups as well as to the Hawaiian
Islands. Fornander credits a fisherman from foreign lands as
thus bringing forth the Hawaiian Islands from the deep seas.
The reference occurs in part of a chant known as that of a friend
of Paao-the priest who is supposed to have come from, Samoa to
Hawaii in the eleventh century. This priest calls for his companions:
"Here are the canoes. Get aboard.
Come along, and dwell on Hawaii with the green back.
A land which was found in the ocean,
A land thrown up from the sea-
From the very depths of Kanaloa,
The white coral, in the watery caves,
That was caught on the hook of the fisherman."
The god Kanaloa is sometimes known as a ruler of the under-world,
whose land was caught by Maui's hook and brought up in islands.
Thus in the legends the thought has been perpetuated that some
one of the ancestors of the Polynesians made voyages and discovered
In the time of Umi, King of Hawaii, there is the following
record of an immense bone fish-hook, which was called the "fish-hook
"In the night of Mukti (the last night of the month),
a priest and his servants took a man, killed him, and fastened
his body to the hook, which bore the name Manai-a-ka-lani, and
dragged it to the heiau (temple) as a 'fish,' and placed it on
This hook was kept until the time of Kamehamleha I. From time
to time he tried to break it, and pulled until he perspired.
Peapea, a brother of Kaahumanu, took the hook and broke it.
He was afraid that Kamehameha would kill him. Kaahumanu, however,
soothed the King, and he passed the matter over. The broken bone
was probably thrown away.
MAUI LIFTING THE SKY.
MAUI'S home was for a long time enveloped
by darkness. The heavens had fallen down, or, rather, had not
been separated from the earth.
According to some legends, the skies pressed so closely and
so heavily upon the earth that when the plants began to grow,
all the leaves were necessarily flat. According to other legends,
the plants had to push up the clouds a little, and thus caused
the leaves to flatten out into larger surface, so that they could
better drive the skies back and hold them in place. Thus the
leaves became flat at first, and have so remained through all
the days of mankind. The plants lifted the sky inch by inch until
men were able to crawl about between the heavens and the earth,
and thus pass from place to place and visit one another.
After a long time, according to the Hawaiian legends, a man,
supposed to be Maui, came to a woman and said: "Give me
a drink from your gourd calabash, and I will push the heavens
higher." The woman handed the gourd to him. When he had
taken a deep draught, he braced himself against the clouds and
lifted them to the height of the trees. Again he hoisted the
sky and carried it to the tops of the mountains; then with great
exertion he thrust it upwards once more, and pressed it to the
place it now occupies. Nevertheless dark clouds many times hang
low along the eastern slope of Maui's great mountain-Haleakala-and
descend in heavy rains upon the hill Kauwiki; but they clare
not stay, lest Maui the strong come and hurl them so far away
that they cannot come back again.
A man who had been watching the process of lifting the sky
ridiculed Maui for attempting such a difficult task. When the
clouds rested on the tops of the mountains, Maui turned to punish
his critic. The man had fled to the other side of the island,
Maui rapidly pursued and finally caught him on the sea coast,
not many miles north of the town now known as Lahaina. After
a brief struggle the man was changed, according to the story,
into a great black rock, which can be seen by any traveler who
desires to localize the legends of Hawaii.
In Samoa Tiitii, the latter part of the full name of Mauikiikii,
is used as the name of the one who braced his feet against the
rocks and pushed the sky up. The foot-prints, some six feet long,
are said to be shown by the natives.
Another Samoan story is almost like the raw Hawaiian legend.
The heavens had fallen, people crawled, but the leaves pushed
up a little; but the sky was uneven. Men tried to walk, but hit
their heads, and in this confined space it was very hot. A woman
rewarded a man who lifted the sky to its proper place by giving
him a drink of water from her cocoanut shell.
A number of small groups of islands in the Pacific have legends
of their skies being lifted, but they attribute the labor to
the great eels and serpents of the sea.
One of the Ellice group, Niu Island, says that as the serpent
began to lift the sky the people clapped their hands and shouted
"Lift up!" "High!" "Higher!" But
the body of the serpent finally broke into pieces which became
islands, and the blood sprinkled its drops on the sky and became
One of the Samoan legends says that a plant called daiga,
which had one large umbrella-like leaf, pushed up the sky and
gave it its shape.
The Vatupu, or Tracey Islanders, said at one time the sky
and rocks were united. Then steam or clouds of smoke rose from
the rocks, and, pouring out in volumes, forced the sky away from
the earth. Man appeared in these clouds of steam or smoke. Perspiration
burst forth as this man forced his way through the heated atmosphere.
From this perspiration woman was formed. Then were born three
sons, two of whom pushed up the sky. One, in the north, pushed
as far as his arms would reach. The one in the south was short
and climbed a hill, pushing as he went up, until the sky was
in its proper place.
The Gilbert Islanders say the sky was pushed up by men with
The ancient New Zealanders understood incantations by which
they could draw up or discover. They found a land where the sky
and the earth were united. They prayed over their stone axe and
cut the sky and land apart. "Hau-hau-tu" was the name
of the great stone axe by which the sinews of the great heaven
above were severed, and Langi (sky) was separated from, Papa
The New Zealand Maoris were accustomed to say that at first
the sky rested close upon the earth and therefore there was utter
darkness for ages. Then the six sons of heaven and earth, born
during this period of darkness, felt the need of light and discussed
the necessity of separating their parents-the sky from the earth-and
decided to attempt the work.
Rongo (Hawaiian god Lono) the "father of food plants,"
attempted to lift the sky, but could not tear it from the earth.
Then Tangaroa (Kanaloa), the "father of fish and reptiles,"
failed. Haumia Tiki-tiki (Maui Kiikii), the "father of wild
food plants," could not raise the clouds. Then Tu (Hawaiian
Ku), the "father of fierce men," struggled in vain,
But Tane (Hawaiian Kane), the "father of giant forests,"
pushed and lifted until he thrust the sky far up above him. Then
they discovered their descendants-the multitude of human beings
who had been living on the earth concealed and crushed by the
clouds. Afterwards the last son, Tawhiri (father of storms),
was angry and waged war against his brothers. He hid in the sheltered
hollows of the great skies. There he begot his vast brood of
winds and storms with which he finally drove all his brothers
and their descendants into hiding places on land and sea. The
New Zealanders mention the names of the canoes in which their
ancestors fled from the old home Hawaiki.
Tu (father of fierce men) and his descendants, however, conquered
wind and storm and have ever since held supremacy.
The New Zealand legends also say that heaven and earth have
never lost their love for each other. -"The warm sighs of
earth ever ascend from the wooded mountains and valleys, and
men call them mists. The sky also lets fall frequent tears which
men term dew drops."
The Manihiki islanders say that Maui desired to separate the
sky from the earth. His father, Ru, was the supporter of the
heavens. Maui persuaded him to assist in lifting the burden.
Maui went to the north and crept into a place, where, lying prostrate
under the sky, he could brace himself against it and push with
great power. in the same way Ru went to the south and braced
himself against the southern skies. Then they made the signal,
and both pressed "with their backs against the solid blue
mass." It gave way before the great strength of the father
and son. Then they lifted again, bracing themselves with hands
and knees against the earth. They crowded it and bent it upward.
They were able to stand with the sky resting on their shoulders.
They heaved against the bending mass, and it receded rapidly.
They quickly put the palms of their hands under it; then the
tips of their fingers, and it retreated farther and farther.
At last, "drawing themselves out to gigantic proportions,
they pushed the entire heavens up to the very lofty position
which they have ever since occupied."
But Maui and Ru had not worked perfectly together; therefore
the sky was twisted and its surface was very irregular. They
determined to smooth the sky before they finished their task,
so they took large stone adzes and chipped off the rough protuberances
and ridges, until by and by the great arch was cut out and smoothed
off. They then took finer tools and chipped and polished until
the sky became the beautifully finished blue dome which now bends
around the earth.
The Hervey island myth, as related by W. W. Gill, states that
Ru, the father of Maui, came from Avaiki (Hawa-iki), the underworld
or abode of the spirits of the dead. He found men crowded down
by the sky, which was a mass of solid blue stone. He was very
sorry when he saw the condition of the inhabitants of the earth,
and planned to raise the sky a little. So he planted stakes of
different kinds of trees. These were strong enough to hold the
sky so far above the earth "that men could stand erect and
walk about without inconvenience." This was celebrated in
one of the Hervey Island songs:
"Force up the heavens,
And let the space be clear."
For this helpful deed Ru received the name "The supporter
of the heavens." He was rather proud of his achievement
and was gratified because of the praise received. So he came
sometimes and looked at the stakes and the beautiful blue sky
resting on them. Maui, the son, came along and ridiculed his
father for thinking so much of his work. Maui is not represented,
in the legends, as possessing a great deal of love and reverence
for his relatives provided his affection interfered with his
mischief; so it was not at all strange that he laughed at his
father. Ru became angry and said to Maui: "Who told youngsters
to talk? Take care of yourself, or I will hurl you out of existence."
Maui dared him to try it. Ru quickly seized him and "threw
him to a great height." But Maui changed himself to a bird
and sank back to earth unharmed.
Then he changed himself back into the form of a man, and,
making himself very large, ran and thrust his head between the
old man's legs. He pried and lifted until Ru and the sky around
him began to give. Another lift and he hurled them both to such
a height that the sky could not come back.
Ru himself was entangled among the stars. His head and shoulders
stuck fast, and he could not free himself. How he struggled,
until the skies shook, while Maui went away. Maui was proud of
his achievement in having moved the sky so far away. In this
self-rejoicing he quickly forgot his father.
Ru died after a time. "His body rotted away and his bones,
of vast proportions, came tumbling down from time to time, and
were shivered on the earth into countless fragments. These shattered
bones of Ru are scattered over every hill and valley of one of
the islands, to the very edge of the sea."
Thus the natives of the Hervey Islands account for the many
pieces of porous lava and the small pieces of pumice stone found
occasionally in their islands. The "bones" were very
light and greatly resembled fragments of real bone. If the fragments
were large enough they were sometimes taken and worshiped as
gods. One of these pieces, of extraordinary size, was given to
Mr. Gill when the natives were bringing in a large collection
of idols. "This one was known as 'The Light Stone,' and
was worshiped as the god of the wind and the waves. Upon occasions
of a hurricane, incantations and offerings of food would be made
Thus, according to different Polynesian legends, Maui raised
the sky and made the earth inhabitable for his fellow-men.
MAUI SNARING THE SUN.
A VERY unique legend is found among
the widely-scattered Polynesians. The story of Maui's "Snaring
the Sun" was told among the Maoris of New Zealand, the Kanakas
of the Hervey and Society Islands, and the ancient natives of
Hawaii. The Samoans tell the same story without mentioning the
name of Maui. They say that the snare was cast by a child of
the sun itself.
The Polynesian stories of the origin of the sun are worthy
of note before the le end of the change from short to long days
The Tongan Islanders, according to W. W. Gill, tell the story
of the origin of the sun and moon. They say that Vatea (Wakea)
and their ancestor Tongaiti quarreled concerning a child-each
claiming it as his own. In the struggle the child was cut in
two. Vatea squeezed and rolled the part he secured into a ball
and threw it away, far up into the heavens, where it became the
sun. It shone brightly as it rolled along the heavens, and sank
down to Avaiki (Hawaii), the nether world. But the ball came
back again and once more rolled across the sky. Tonga-iti had
let his half of the child fall on the ground and lie there, until
made envious by the beautiful ball Vatea made.
At last he took the flesh which lay on the ground and made
it into a ball. As the sun sank he threw his ball up into the
darkness, and it rolled along the heavens, but the blood had
drained out of the flesh while it lay upon the ground, therefore
it could not become so red and burning as the sun, and had not
life to move so swiftly. It was as white as a dead body, because
its blood was all gone; and it could not make the darkness flee
away as the sun had done. Thus day and night and the sun and
moon always remain with the earth.
The legends of the Society Islands say that a demon in the
west became angry with the sun and in his rage ate it up, causing
night. In the same way a demon from the east would devour the
moon, but for some reason these angry ones could not destroy
their captives and were compelled to open their mouths and let
the bright balls come forth once more. In some places a sacrifice
of some one of distinction was needed to placate the wrath of
the devourers and free the balls of light in times of eclipse.
The moon, pale and dead in appearance, moved slowly; while
the sun, full of life and strength, moved quickly. Thus days
were very short and nights were very long. Mankind suffered from
the fierceness of the heat of the sun and also from its prolonged
absence. Day and night were alike a burden to men. The darkness
was so great and lasted so long that fruits would not ripen.
After Maui had succeeded in throwing the heavens into their
place, and fastening them so that they could not fall, he learned
that he had opened a way for the sun-god to come up from the
lower world and rapidly run across the blue vault. This made
two troubles for men-the heat of the sun was very great and the
journey too quickly over. Maui planned to capture the sun and
punish him for thinking so little about the welfare of mankind.
As Rev. A. O. Forbes, a missionary among the Hawaiians, relates,
Maui's mother was troubled very much by the heedless haste of
the sun. She had many kapa-cloths to make, for this was the only
kind of clothing known in Hawaii, except sometimes a woven mat
or a long grass fringe worn as a skirt. This native cloth was
made by pounding the fine bark of certain trees with wooden mallets
until the fibres were beaten and ground into a wood pulp. Then
she pounded the pulp into thin sheets from which the best sleeping
mats and clothes could be fashioned. These kapa cloths had to
be thoroughly dried, but the days were so short that by the time
she had spread out the kapa the sun had heedlessly rushed across
the sky and gone down into the under-world, and all the cloth
had to be gathered up again and cared for until another day should
come. There were other troubles. "The food could not be
prepared and cooked in one day. Even an incantation to the gods
could not be chanted through ere theywere overtaken by darkness."
This was very discouraging and caused great suffering, as
well as much unnecessary trouble and labor. Many complaints were
made against the thoughtless sun.
Maui pitied his mother and determined to make the sun go slower
that the days might be long enough to satisfy the needs of men.
Therefore, he went over to the northwest of the island on which
he lived. This was Mt. Iao, an extinct volcano, in which lies
one of the most beautiful and picturesque valleys of the Hawaiian
Islands. He climbed the ridges until he could see the course
of the sun as it passed over the island. He saw that the sun
came up the eastern side of Mt. Haleakala. He crossed over the
plain between the two mountains and climbed to the top of Mt.
Haleakala. There he watched the burning sun as it came up from
Koolau and passed directly over the top of the mountain. The
summit of Haleakala is a great extinct crater twenty miles in
circumference, and nearly twenty-five hundred feet in depth.
There are two tremendous gaps or chasms in the side of the crater
wall, through which in days gone by the massive bowl poured forth
its flowing lava. One of these was the Koolau, or eastern gap,
in which Maui probably planned to catch the sun.
Mt. Hale-a-ka-la of the Hawaiian Islands means House-of-the-sun.
"La," or "Ra," is the name of the sun throughout
parts of Polynesia. Ra was the sungod of ancient Egypt. Thus
the antiquities of Polynesia and Egypt touch each other, and
today no man knows the full reason thereof.
The Hawaiian legend says Maui was taunted by a man who ridiculed
the idea that he could snare the sun, saying, "You will
never catch the sun. You are only an idle nobody."
Maui replied, "When I conquer my enemy and my desire
is attained, I will be your death."
After studying the path of the sun, Maui returned to his mother
and told her that he would go and cut off the legs of the sun
so that he could not run so fast.
His mother said: "Are you strong enough for this work?"
He said, 'Yes." Then she gave him fifteen strands of well-twisted
fiber and told him to go to his grandmother, who lived in the
great crater of Haleakala, for the rest of the things in his
conflict with the sun. She said: "You must climb the mountain
to the place where a large wiliwili tree is standing. There you
will find the place where the sun stops to eat cooked bananas
prepared by your grandmother.
Stay there until a rooster crows three times; then watch your
grandmother go out to make a fire and put on food. You had better
take her bananas. She will look for them and find you and ask
who you are. Tell her you belong to Hina."
When she had taught him all these things, he went tip the
mountain to Kaupo to the place Hina had directed. There was a
large wiliwili tree. Here he waited for the rooster to crow.
The name of that rooster was Kalauhele-moa. When the rooster
had crowed three times, the grandmother came out with a bunch
of bananas to cook for the sun. She took off the upper part of
the bunch and laid it down. Maui immediately snatched it away.
In a moment she turned to pick it up, but could not find it.
She was angry and cried out: "Where are the bananas of the
sun?" Then she took off another part of the bunch, and Maui
stole that. Thus he did until all the bunch had been taken away.
She was almost blind and could not detect him by sight, so she
sniffed all around her until she detected the smell of a man.
She asked - "Who are you? To whom do you belong?" Maui
replied: "I belong to Hina." "Why have you come?"
Maui told her, "I have come to kill the sun. He goes so
fast that he never dries the tapa Hina has beaten out."
The old woman gave a magic stone for a battle axe and one
more rope. She taught him how to catch the sun, saying: "Make
a place to hide here by this large wiliwili tree. When the first
leg of the sun comes up, catch it with your first rope, and so
on until you have used all your ropes. Fasten them to the tree,
then take the stone axe to strike the body of the sun."
Maui dug a hole among the roots of the tree and concealed
himself. Soon the first ray of light-the first leg of the sun-came
up along the mountain side. Maui threw his rope and caught it.
One by one the legs of the sun came over the edge of the crater's
rim and were caught. Only one long leg was still hanging down
the side of the mountain. It was hard for the sun to move that
leg. It shook and trembled and tried hard to come up. At last
it crept over the edge and was caught by Maui with the rope given
by his grandmother.
When the sun saw that his sixteen long legs were held fast
in the ropes, he began to go back down the mountain side into
the sea. Then Maui tied the ropes fast to the tree and pulled
until the body of the sun came up again. Brave Maui caught his
magic stone club or axe, and began to strike and wound the sun,
until he cried: "Give me my life." Maui said: "If
you live, you may be a traitor. Perhaps I had better kill you."
But the sun begged for life. After they had conversed a while,
they agreed that there should be a regular motion in the journey
of the sun. There should be longer days, and. yet half the time
he might go quickly as in the winter time, but the other half
he must move slowly as in summer. Thus men dwelling on the earth
should be blessed.
Another legend says that he made a lasso and climbed to the
summit of Mt. Haleakala. He made ready his lasso, so that when
the sun came lip the mountain side and rose above him he could
cast the noose and catch the sun, but he only snared one of the
sun's larger rays and broke it off. Again and again he threw
the lasso until he had broken off all the strong rays of the
Then he shouted exultantly, "Thou art my captive; I will
kill thee for going so swiftly."
Then the sun said, "Let me live and thou shalt see me
go more slowly hereafter. Behold, hast thou not broken off all
my strong legs and left me only the weak ones?"
So the agreement was made, and Maui permitted the sun to pursue
his course, and from that day he went more slowly.
Maui returned from his conflict with the sun and sought for
Moemoe, the man who had ridiculed him. Maui chased this man around
the island from one side to the other until they had passed through
Lahaina (one of the first mission stations in 1828). There on
the seashore near the large black rock of the legend of Maui
lifting the sky he found Moemoe. Then they left the seashore
and the contest raged up hill and down until Maui slew the man
and "changed the body into a long rock, which is there to
this day, by the side of the road going past Black Rock."
Before the battle with the sun occurred Maui went down into
the underworld, according to the New Zealand tradition, and remained
a long time with his relatives. In some way he learned that there
was an enchanted jawbone in the possession of some one of his
ancestors, so he waited and waited, hoping that at last he might
After a time he noticed that presents of food were being sent
away to some person whom he had not met.
One day he asked the messengers, "Who is it you are taking
that present of food to?"
The people answered, "It is for Muri, your ancestress."
Then he asked for the food, saying, "I will carry it
to her myself."
But he took the food away and hid it. "And this he did
for many days," and the presents failed to reach the old
By and by she suspected mischief, for it did not seem as if
her friends would neglect her so long a time, so she thought
she would catch the tricky one and eat him. She depended upon
her sense of smell to detect the one who had troubled her. As
Sir George Grey tells the story: "When Maui came along the
path carrying the present of food, the old chiefess sniffed and
sniffed until she was sure that she smelt some one coming. She
was very much exasperated, and her stomach began to distend itself
that she might be ready to devour this one when he came near.
Then she turned toward the south and sniffed. and not a scent
of anything reached her. Then she turned to the north, and to
the cast, but could not detect the odor of a human being. She
made one more trial and turned toward the west. Ah! then came
the scent of a man to her plainly and she called out, 'I know,
from the smell wafted to me by the breeze, that somebody is close
Maui made known his presence and the old woman knew that he
was a descendant of hers, and her stomach began immediately to
shrink and contract itself again.
Then she asked, "Art thou Maui?"
He answered, "Even so," and told her that he wanted
"the jaw-bone by which great enchantments could be wrought."
Then Muri, the old chiefess, gave him the magic bone and he
returned to his brothers, who were still living on the earth.
Then Maui said: "Let us now catch the sun in a noose
that we may compel him to move more slowly in order that mankind
may have long days to labor in and procure subsistence for themselves."
They replied, "No man can approach it on account of the
fierceness of the heat."
According to the Society Island legend, his mother advised
him to have nothing to do with the sun, who was a divine living
creature, "in form like a man, possessed of fearful energy,"
shaking his golden locks both morning and evening in the eyes
of men. Many persons had tried to regulate the movements of the
sun, but had failed completely.
But Maui encouraged his mother and his brothers by asking
them to remember his power to protect himself by the use of enchantments.
The Hawaiian legend says that Maui himself gathered cocoanut
fibre in great quantity and manufactured it into strong ropes.
But the legends of other islands say that he had the aid of his
brothers, and while working learned many useful lessons. While
winding and twisting they discovered how to make square ropes
and flat ropes as well as the ordinary round rope. In the Society
Islands, it is said, Maui and his brothers made six strong ropes
of great length. These he called aeiariki (royal nooses).
The New Zealand legend says that when Maui and his brothers
had finished making all the ropes required they took provisions
and other things needed and journeyed toward the east to find
the place where the sun should rise. Maui carried with him the
magic jaw-bone which he had secured from Muri, his ancestress,
in the under-world.
They traveled all night and concealed themselves by day so
that the sun should not see them and become too suspicious and
watchful. In this way they journeyed, until "at length they
had gone very far to the eastward and had come to the very edge
of the place out of which the sun rises. There they set to work
and built on each side a long, high wall of clay, with hilts
of boughs of trees at each end to hide themselves in."
Here they laid a large noose made from their ropes and Maui
concealed himself on one side of this place along which the sun
must come, while his brothers hid on the other side.
Maui seized his magic enchanted jaw-bone as the weapon with
which to fight the sun, and ordered his brothers to pull hard
on the noose and not to be frightened or moved to set the sun
"At last the sun came rising up out of his place like
a fire spreading far and wide over the mountains and forests.
He rises up.
His head passes through the noose.
The ropes are pulled tight.
Then the monster began to struggle and roll himself about,
while the snare jerked backwards and forwards as he struggled.
Ah! was not he held fast in the ropes of his enemies.
Then forth rushed that bold hero Maui with his enchanted weapon.
The sun screamed aloud and roared. Maui struck him fiercely with
many blows. They held him for a long time. At last they let him
go, and then weak from wounds the sun crept very slowly and feebly
along his course."
In this way the days were made longer so that men could perform
their daily tasks and fruits and food plants could have time
The legend of the Hervey group of islands says that Maui made
six snares and placed them at intervals along the path over which
the sun must pass. The sun in the form of a man climbed up from
Avaiki (Hawaiki). Maui pulled the first noose, but it slipped
down the rising sun until it caught and was pulled tight around
Maui ran quickly to pull the ropes of the second snare, but
that also slipped down, down, until it was tightened around the
knees. Then Maui hastened to the third snare, while the sun was
trying to rush along on his journey. The third snare caught around
the hips. The fourth snare fastened itself around the waist.
The fifth slipped under the arms, and yet the sun sped along
as if but little inconvenienced by Maui's efforts.
Then Maui caught the last noose and threw it around the neck
of the sun, and fastened the rope to a spur of rock. The sun
struggled until nearly strangled to death and then gave up, promising
Maui that he would go as slowly as was desired. Maui left the
snares fastened to the sun to keep him in constant fear.
"These ropes may still be seen hanging from the sun at
dawn and stretching into the skies when he descends into the
ocean at night. By the assistance of these ropes he is gently
let down into Ava-iki in the evening, and also raised up out
of shadow-land in the morning."
Another legend from the Society Islands is related by Mr.
Maui tried many snares before he could catch the sun. The
sun was the Hercules, or the Samson, of the heavens. He broke
the strong cords of cocoanut fibre which Maui made and placed
around the opening by which the sun climbed out from the under-world.
Maui made stronger ropes, but still the sun broke them every
Then Maui thought of his sister's hair, the sister Inaika,
whom he cruelly treated in later years. Her hair was long and
beautiful. He cut off some of it and made a strong rope. With
this he lassoed or rather snared the sun, and caught him around
the throat. The sun quickly promised to be more thoughtful of
the needs of men and go at a more reasonable pace across the
A story from the American Indians is told in Hawaii's Young
People, which is very similar to the Polynesian legends.
An Indian boy became very angry with the sun for getting so
warm and making his clothes shrink with the heat. He told his
sister to make a snare. The girl took sinews from a large deer,
but they shriveled under the heat. She took her own long hair
and made snares, but they were burned in a moment. Then she tried
the fibres of various plants and was successful. Her brother
took the fibre cord and drew it through his lips. It stretched
and became a strong red cord. He pulled and it became very long.
He went to the place of sunrise, fixed his snare, and caught
the sun. When the sun had been sufficiently punished, the animals
of the earth studied the problem of setting the sun free. At
last a mouse as large as a mountain ran and gnawed the red cord.
It broke and the sun moved on, but the poor mouse had been burned
and shriveled into the small mouse of the present day.
A Samoan legend says that a woman living for a tinie with
the sun bore a child who had the name "Child of the Sun."
She wanted gifts for the child's marriage, so she took a long
vine, climbed a tree, made the vine into a noose, lassoed the
sun, and made him give her a basket of blessings.
In Fiji, the natives tie the grasses growing on a hilltop
over which they are passing, when traveling from place to place.
They do this to make a snare to catch the sun if he should try
to go down before they reach the end of their day's journey.
This legend is a misty memory of some time when the Polynesian
people were in contact with the short days of the extreme north
or south. It is a very remarkable exposition of a fact of nature
perpetuated many centuries in lands absolutely free from such
MAUI FINDING FIRE.
"Grant, oh grant me thy hidden fire,
O Banyan Tree.
Perform an incantation,
Utter a prayer
To the Banyan Tree.
Kindle a fire in the dust
Of the Banyan Tree."
AMONG students of mythology certain
characters in the legends of the various nations are known as
"culture heroes." Mankind has from time to time learned
exceedingly useful lessons and has also usually ascribed the
new knowledge to some noted person in the national mythology.
These mythical benefactors who have brought these practical benefits
to men are placed among the "hero gods." They have
been teachers or "culture heroes" to mankind.
Probably the fire finders of the different nations are among
the best remembered of all these benefactors. This would naturally
be the case, for no greater good has touched man's physical life
than the discovery of methods of making fire.
Prometheus, the classical fire finder, is most widely known
in literature. But of all the helpful gods of mythology, Maui,
the mischievous Polynesian, is beyond question the hero of the
largest numbers of nations scattered over the widest extent of
territory. Prometheus belonged to Rome, but Maui belonged to
the length and breadth of the Pacific Ocean. Theft or trickery,
the use of deceit of some kind, is almost inseparably connected
with fire finding all over the world. Prometheus stole fire from,
Jupiter and gave it to men together with the genius to make use
of it in the arts and sciences. He found the rolling chariot
of the sun, secretly filled his hollow staff with fire, carried
it to earth, put a part in the breast of man to create enthusiasm
or animation, and saved the remainder for the comfort of mankind
to be used with the artist skill of Minerva and Vulcan. In Brittany
the golden or fire-crested wren steals fire and is red-marked
while so doing. The animals of the North American Indians are
represented as stealing fire sometimes from the cuttle fish and
sometimes from one another. Some swiftly-flying bird or fleet-footed
coyote would carry the stolen fire to the home of the tribe.
The possession of fire meant to the ancients all that wealth
means family of today. It meant the possession of comfort. to
the The gods were naturally determined to keep this wealth in
their own hands. For any one to make a sharp deal and cheat a
god of fire out of a part of this valuable property or to make
a courageous raid upon the fire guardian and steal the treasure,
was easily sufficient to make that one a "culture hero."
As a matter of fact a prehistoric family without fire would go
to any length in order to get it. The fire finders would naturally
be the hero-gods and stealing fire would be an exploit rather
than a crime.
It is worth noting that in many myths not only was fire stolen,
but birds marked by red or black spots among their feathers were
associated with the theft. It would naturally be supposed that
the Hawaiians living in a volcanic country with ever-flowing
fountains of lava, would connect their fire myths with some volcano
when relating the story of the origin of fire. But like the rest
of the Polynesians, they found fire in trees rather than in rivers
of melted rock. They must have brought their fire legends and
fire customs with them when they came to the islands of active
Flint rocks as fire producers are not found in the Hawaiian
myths, nor in the stories from the island groups related to the
Hawaiians. Indians might see the fleeing buffalo strike fire
from the stones under his hard hoofs. The Tartars might have
a god to teach them "the secret of the stone's edge and
the iron's hardness." The Peruvians could very easily form
a legend of their mythical father Guamansuri finding a way to
make fire after he had seen the sling stones, thrown at his enemies,
bring forth sparks of fire from the rocks against which they
struck. The thunder and the lightning of later years were the
sparks and the crash of stones hurled among the cloud mountains
by the mighty gods.
In Australia the story is told of an old man and his daughter
who lived in great darkness. After a time the father found the
doorway of light through which the sun passed on his journey.
He opened the door and a flood of sunshine covered the earth.
His daughter looked around her home and saw numbers of serpents.
She seized a staff and began to kill them. She wielded it so
vigorously that it became hot in her bands. At last it broke,
but the pieces rubbed against each other and flashed into sparks
and flames. Thus it was learned that fire was buried in wood.
Flints were known in Europe and Asia and America, but the
Polynesian looked to the banyan and kindred trees for the hidden
sparks of fire. The natives of De Peyster's Island say that their
ancestors learned how to make fire by seeing smoke rise from
crossed branches rubbing together while trees were shaken by
In studying the Maui myths of the Pacific it is necessary
to remember that Polynesians use "t" and "k"
without distinguishing them apart, and also as in the Hawaiian
Islands an apostrophe (') is often used in place of "t"
or "k". Therefore the Maui Ki-i-k-i'i of Hawaii becomes
the demi-god Tiki-tiki of the Gilbert Islands-or the Ti'i-ti'i
of Samoa or the Tiki of New Zealand-or other islands of the great
ocean. We must also remember that in the Hawaiian legends Kalana
is Maui's father. This in other groups becomes Talanga or Kalanga
or Karanga. Kanaloa, the great god of most of the different Polynesians,
is also sometimes called the Father of Maui. It is not strange
that some of the exploits usually ascribed to Maui should be
in some places transferred to his father under one name or the
other. On one or two groups Mafuia, an ancestress of Maui, is
mentioned as finding the fire. The usual legend makes Maui the
one who takes fire away from Mafuia. The story of fire finding
in Polynesia sifts itself to Maui under one of his widely-accepted
names, or to his father or to his ancestress-with but very few
exceptions. This fact is important as showing in a very marked
manner the race relationship of a vast number of the islanders
of the Pacific world. From the Marshall Islands, in the west,
to the Society Islands of the east; from the Hawaiian Islands
in the north to the New Zealand group in the south, the footsteps
of the fire finder can be traced.
The Hawaiian story of fire finding is one of the least marvelous
of all the legends. Hina, Maui's mother, wanted fish. One morning
early Maui saw that the great storm waves of the sea had died
down and the fishing grounds could be easily reached. He awakened
his brothers and with them hastened to the beach. This was at
Kaupo on the island of Maui. Out into the gray shadows of the
dawn they paddled.
When they were far from shore they began to fish. But Maui,
looking landward, saw a fire on the mountain side.
"Behold," he cried. "There is a fire burning.
Whose can this fire be?"
"Whose, indeed?" his brothers replied.
"Let us hasten to the shore and cook our food,"
They decided that they had better catch some fish to cook
before they returned. Thus, in the morning, before the hot sun
drove the fish deep down to the dark recesses of the sea, they
fished until a bountiful supply lay in the bottom of the canoe.
When they came to land, Maui leaped out and ran up the mountain
side to get the fire. For a long, long time they had been without
fire. The great volcano Haleakala above then, had become extinct-and
they had lost the coals they had tried to keep alive. They had
eaten fruits and uncooked roots and the shell fish broken from
the reef-and sometimes the great raw fish from the far-out ocean.
But now they hoped to gain living fire and cooked food.
But when Maui rushed up toward the cloudy pillar of smoke
he saw a family of birds scratching the fire out. Their work
was finished and they flew away just as he reached the place.
Maui and his brothers watched for fire day after day-but the
birds, the curly-tailed Alae (or the mudhens) made no fire. Finally
the brothers went fishing once more-but when they looked toward
the mountain, again they saw flames and smoke. Thus it happened
to them again and again.
Maui proposed to his brothers that they go fishing leaving
him to watch the birds. But the Alae counted the fishermen and
refused to build a fire for the hidden one who was watching them.
They said among themselves, "Three are in the boat and we
know not where the other one is, we will make no fire today."
So the experiment failed again and again. If one or two remained
or if all waited on the land there would be no fire-but the dawn
which saw the four brothers in the boat, saw also the fire on
Finally Maui rolled some kapa cloth together and stuck it
up in one end of the canoe so that it would look like a man.
He then concealed himself near the haunt of the mud-hens, while
his brothers went out fishing. The birds counted the figures
in the boat and then started to build a heap of wood for the
Maui was impatient-and just as the old Alae began to select
sticks with which to make the flames he leaped swiftly out and
caught her and held her prisoner. He forgot for a moment that
he wanted the secret of fire making. In his anger against the
wise bird his first impulse was to taunt her and then kill her
for hiding the secret of fire.
But the Alae cried out: "If you are the death of me-my
secret will perish also-and you cannot have fire."
Maui then promised to spare her life if she would tell him
what to do.
Then came the contest of wits. The bird told the demi-god
to rub the stalks of water plants together. He guarded the bird
and tried the plants. Water instead of fire ran out of the twisted
stems. Then she told him to rub reeds together-but they bent
and broke and could make no fire. He twisted her neck until she
was half dead-then she cried out: "I have hidden the fire
in a green stick."
Maui worked hard, but not a spark of fire appeared. Again
he caught his prisoner by the head and wrung her neck, and she
named a kind of dry wood. Maui rubbed the sticks together, but
they only became warm. The neck twisting process was resumed
and repeated again and again, until the mud-hen was almost dead-and
Maui had tried tree after tree. At last Maui found fire. Then
as the flames rose he said: "There is one more thing to
rub." He took a fire stick and rubbed the top of the head
of his prisoner until the feathers fell off and the raw flesh
appeared. Thus the Hawaiian mud-hen and her descendants have
ever since had bald heads, and the Hawaiians have had the secret
of fire making.
Another Hawaiian legend places the scene of Maui's contest
with the mud-hens a little inland of the town of Hilo on the
Island of Hawaii. There are three small extinct craters very
near each other known as The Halae Hills. One, the southern or
Puna side of the hills, is a place called Pohaku-nui. Here dwelt
two brother birds of the Alae family. They were gods. One had
the power of fire making. Here at Pohaku-nui they were accustomed
to kindle a fire and bake their dearly loved food-baked bananas.
Here Maui planned to learn the secret of fire. The birds had
kindled the fire and the bananas were almost done, when the elder
Alae called to the younger: "Be quick, here comes the swift
son of Hina."
The birds scratched out the fire, caught the bananas and fled.
Maui told his mother he would follow them until he learned the
secret of fire. His mother encouraged him because he was very
strong and very swift. So he followed the birds from place to
place as they fled from him, finding new spots on which to make
their fires. At last they came to the island Oahu. There he saw
a great fire and a multitude of birds gathered around it, chattering
loudly and trying to hasten the baking of the bananas. Their
incantation was this: "Let us cook quick." "Let
us cook quick." "The swift child of Hina will come."
Maui's mother Hina had taught him how to know the fire-maker.
"If you go up to the fire, you will find many birds. Only
one is the guardian. This is the small, young Alae. His name
is Alae-iki: Only this one knows how to make fire." So whenever
Maui came near to the fire-makers he always sought for the little
Alae. Sometimes he made mistakes and soirietimes almost captured
the one he desired. At Waianae he leaped suddenly among the birds.
They scattered the fire, and the younger bird tried to snatch
his banana from the coals and flee, but Maui seized him and began
to twist his neck. The bird cried out, warning Maui not to kill
him or he would lose the secret of fire altogether. Maui was
told that the fire was made from a banana stump. He saw the bananas
roasting and thought this was reasonable. So, according to directions,
he began to rub together pieces of the banana. The bird hoped
for an unguarded moment when be might escape, but Mau was very
watchful and was also very angry when he found that rubbing only
resulted in squeezing out juice. Then he twisted the neck of
the bird and was told to rub the stem of the taro plant. This
also was so green that it only produced water. Then he was so
angry that he nearly rubbed the head of the bird off-and the
bird, fearing for its life, told the truth and taught Maui how
to find the wood in which fire dwelt.
They learned to draw out the sparks secreted in different
kinds of trees. The sweet sandalwood was one of these fire trees.
Its Hawaiian name is "Ili-ahi" -the "ili"
(bark) and "ahi" (fire), the bark in which fire is
A legend of the Society Islands is somewhat similar. Ina (Hina)
promised to aid Maui in finding fire for the islanders. She sent
him into the under-world to find Tangaroa (Kanaloa). This god
Tangaroa held fire in his possession-Maui was to know him by
his tattooed face. Down the dark path through the long eaves
Maui trod swiftly until he found the god. Maui asked him for
fire to take up to men. The god gave him a lighted stick and
sent him away. But Maui put the fire out and went back again
after fire. This he did several times, until the wearied giver
decided to teach the intruder the art of fire making. He called
a white duck to aid him. Then, taking two sticks of dry wood,
he gave the under one to the bird and rapidly moved the upper
stick across the under until fire came, Maui seized the upper
stick, after it had been charred in the flame, and burned the
head of the bird back of each eye. Thus were made the black spots
which mark the head of the white duck. Then arose a quarrel between
Tangaroa and Maui-but Maui struck down the god, and, thinking
he had killed him, carried away the art of making fire. His father
and mother made inquiries about their relative-Maui hastened
back to the fire fountain and made the spirit return to the body-then,
coming back to Ina, he bade her good bye and carried the fire
sticks to the upper-world. The Hawaiians, and probably others
among the Polynesians, felt that any state of unconsciousness
was a form of death in which the spirit left the body, but was
called back by prayers and incantations. Therefore, when Maui
restored the god to consciousness, he was supposed to have made
the spirit released by death return into the body and bring it
back to life.
In the Samoan legends as related by G. Turner, the name Ti'iti'i
is used. This is the same as the second name found in Maui Ki'i-ki'i.
The Samoan legend of Ti'iti'i is almost identical with the New
Zealand fire myth of Maui, and is very similar to the story coming
from the Hervey Islands from Savage Island and also from the
Tokelau and other island groups. The Samoan story says that the
home of Mafuie the earthquake god was in the land of perpetual
fire. Maui's or Ti'iti'i's father Talanga (Kalana) was also a
resident of the under-world and a great friend of the earthquake
Ti'iti'i watched his father as he left his home in the upper-world.
Talanga approached a perpendicular wall of rock, said some prayer
or incantation-and passed through a door which immediately closed
after him. (This is a very near approach to the "open sesame"
of the Arabian Nights stories.)
Ti'iti'i went to the rock, but could not find the way through.
He determined to conceal himself the next time so near that he
could hear his father's words.
After some days he was able to catch all the words uttered
by his iather as he knocked on the stone door-
Ti'iti'i went to the perpendicular wall and imitating his
father's voice called for a rock to open. Down through a cave
he passed until he found his father working in the under-world.
The astonished father, learning how his son came, bade him
keep very quiet and work lest he arouse the anger of Mafuie.
So for a time the boy labored obediently by his father's side.
In a little while the boy saw smoke and asked what it was.
The father told him that it was the smoke from the fire of Mafuie,
and explained what fire would do.
The boy determined to get some fire-he went to the place from
which the smoke arose and there found the god, and asked him
for fire. Mafuie gave him fire to carry to his father. The boy
quickly had an oven prepared and the fire placed in it to cook
some of the taro they had been cultivating. Just as everything
was ready an earthquake god came up and blew the fire out and
scattered the stones of the oven.
Then Ti'iti'i was angry and began to talk to Mafuie. The god
attacked the boy, intending to punish him severely for daring
to rebel against the destruction of the fire.
What a battle there was for a time in the underworld! At last
Ti'iti'i seized one of the arms of Mafuie and broke it off. He
caught the other arm and began to twist and bend it.
Mafuie begged the boy to spare him. His right arm was gone.
How could he govern the earthquakes if his left arm were torn
off also? It was his duty to hold Samoa level and not permit
too many earthquakes. It would be hard to do that even with one
arm-but it would be impossible if both arms were gone.
Ti'iti'i listened to the plea and demanded a reward if he
should spare the left arm. Alafuie offered Ti'iti'i one hundred
wives. The boy did not want them.
Then the god offered to teach him the secret of fire finding
to take to the upper-world.
The boy agreed to accept the fire secret, and thus learned
that the gods in making the earth had concealed fire in various
trees for men to discover in their own good time, and that this
fire could be brought out by rubbing pieces of wood together.
The people of Samoa have not had much faith in Mafuie's plea
that he needed his left arm in order to keep Samoa level. They
say that Mafuie has a long stick or handle to the world under
the islands-and when he is angry or wishes to frighten them he
moves this handle and easily shakes the islands. When an earthquake
comes, they give thanks to Ti'iti'i for breaking off one arm-because
if the god had two arms they believe he would shake them unmercifully.
One legend of the Hervey Islands says that Maui and his brothers
had been living on uncooked food-but learned that their mother
sometimes had delicious food which had been cooked. They learned
also that fire was needed in order to cook their food. Then Alatii
wanted fire and watched his mother.
Maui's mother was the guardian of the way to the invisible
world. When she desired to pass from her home to the other world,
she would open a black rock and pass inside. Thus she went to
Hawaiki, the under-world. Maui planned to follow her, but first
studied the forms of birds that he might assume the body of the
strongest and most enduring. After a time he took the shape of
a pigeon and, flying to the black rock, passed through the door
and flew down the long dark passage-way.
After a time he found the god of fire living in a bunch of
banyan sticks. He changed himself into the form of a man and
demanded the secret of fire.
The fire god agreed to give Maui fire if he would permit himself
to be tossed into the sky by the god's strong arms.
Maui agreed on condition that he should have the right to
toss the fire god afterwards.
The fire-god felt certain that there would be only one exercise
of strength-he felt that he had everything in his own hands-so
readily agreed to the tossing contest. It was his intention to
throw his opponent so high that when he fell, if he ever did
fall, there would be no antagonist uncrushed.
He seized Maui in his strong arms and, swinging him back and
forth, flung him upward-but the moment Maui left his hands he
changed himself into a feather and floated softly to the ground.
Then the boy ran swiftly to the god and seized him by the
legs and lifted him up. Then he began to increase in size and
strength until he had lifted the fire god very high. Suddenly
he tossed the god upward and caught him as he fell-again and
again-until the bruised and dizzy god cried enough, and agreed
to give the victor whatever he demanded.
Maui asked for the secret of fire producing. The god taught
him how to rub the dry sticks of certain kinds of trees together,
and, by friction, produce fire, and especially how fire could
be produced by rubbing fire sticks in the fine dust of the banyan
A Society Island legend says Maui borrowed a sacred red pigeon,
belonging to one of the gods, and, changing himself into a dragon
fly, rode this pigeon through a black rock into Avaiki (Hawaiki),
the fire-land of the under-world. He found the god of fire, Mau-ika,
living in a house built from a banyan tree. Mau-ika taught Maui
the kinds of wood into which when fire went out on the earth
a fire goddess had thrown sparks in order to preserve fire. Among
these were the "au" (Hawaiian hau), or "the lemon
hibiscus"-the "argenta," the "fig" and
the "banyan." She taught him also how to make fire
by swift motion when rubbing the sticks of these trees. She also
gave him coals for his present need.
But Maui was viciously mischievous and set the banyan house
on fire, then mounted his pigeon and fled toward the upper-world.
But the flames hastened after him and burst out through the rock
doors into the sunlit land above-as if it were a volcanic eruption.
The Tokelau Islanders say that Talanga (Kalana) known in other
groups of islands as the father of Maui, desired fire in order
to secure warmth and cooked food. He went down, down, very far
down in the caves of the earth. In the lower world he found Mafuika-an
old blind woman, who was the guardian of fire. He told her he
wanted fire to take back to men. She refused either to give fire
or to teach how to make it. Talanga threatened to kill her, and
finally persuaded her to teach how to make fire in any place
he might dwell-and the proper trees to use, the fire-yielding
trees. She also taught him how to cook food-and also the kind
of fish he should cook, and the kinds which should be eaten raw.
Thus mankind learned about food as well as fire.
The Savage Island legend adds the element of danger to Maui's
mischievous theft of fire. The lad followed his father one day
and saw him pull up a bunch of reeds and go down into the fire-land
beneath. Maui hastened down to see what his father was doing.
Soon he saw his oportunity to steal the secret of fire. Then
he caught some fire and started for the upperworld.
His father caught a glimpse of the young thief and tried to
Maui ran up the passage through the black cave-bushes and
trees bordered his road.
The father hastened after his son and was almost ready to
lay hands upon him, when Maui set fire to the bushes. The flames
spread rapidly, catching the underbrush and the trees on all
sides and burst out in the face of the pursuer. Destruction threatened
the under-world, but Maui sped along his way. Then he saw that
the fire was chasing him. Bush after bush leaped into flame and
hurled sparks and smoke and burning air after him. Choked and
smoke-surrounded, he broke through the door of the cavern and
found the fresh air of the world. But the flames followed him
and swept out in great power upon the upperworld a mighty volcanic
The New Zealand legends picture Maui as putting out, in one
night, all the fires of his people. This was serious mischief,
and Maui's mother decided that he should go to the under-world
and see his ancestress, Mahuika, the guardian of fire, and get
new fire to repair the injury he had wrought. She warned him
against attempting to play tricks upon the inhabitants of the
Maui gladly hastened down the cave-path to the house of Mahuika,
and asked for fire for the upperworld. In some way he pleased
her so that she pulled off a finger nail in which fire was burning
and gave it to him. As soon as he had gone back to a place where
there was water, he put the fire out and returned to Mahuika,
asking another gift, which he destroyed. This he did for both
hands and feet until only one nail remained. Maui wanted this.
Then Mahuika became angry and threw the last finger nail on the
ground. Fire poured out and laid hold of everything. Maui ran
up the path to the upper-world, but the fire was swifter-footed.
Then Maui changed himself into an eagle and flew high up nto
the air, but the fire and smoke still followed him. Then he saw
water and dashed into it, but it was too hot. Around him the
forests were blazing, the earth burning and the sea boiling.
Maui, about to perish, called on the gods for rain. Then floods
of water fell and the fire was checked. The great rain fell on
Mahuika and she fled, almost drowned. Her stores of fire were
destroyed, quenched by the storm. But in order to save fire for
the use of men, as she fled she threw sparks into different kinds
of trees where the rain could not reach them, so that when fire
was needed it might be brought into the world again by rubbing
together the fire sticks.
The Chatham Islanders give the following incantation, which
they said was used by Maui against the fierce flood of fire which
was pursuing him:
The legend of Savage Island places Maui in the role of fire-maker.
He has stolen fire in the underworld. His father tries to catch
him, but Maui sets fire to the bushes by the path until a great
conflagration is raging which pursues him to the upper-world.
Some legends make Maui the fire-teacher as well as the fire-finder.
He teaches men how to use hardwood sticks in the fine dry dust
on the bark of certain trees, or how to use the fine fibre of
the palm tree to catch sparks.
In Tahiti the fire god lived in the "Hale-a-o-a,"
or House of the Banyan. Sometimes human sacrifices were placed
upon the sacred branches of this tree of the fire god.
In the Bowditch or Fakaofa Islands the goddess of fire when
conquered taught not only the method of making fire by friction
but also what fish were to be cooked and what were to be eaten
Thus some of the myths of Maui, the mischievous, finding fire
are told by the side of the inrolling surf, while natives of
many islands, around their poi bowls, rest in the shade of the
far-reaching boughs and thick foliage of the banyan and other
fire producing trees.
MAUI THE SKILLFUL.
ACCORDING to the New Zealand legends
there were six Mauis-the Hawaiians counted four. They were a
band of brothers. The older five were known as "the forgetful
Mauis." The tricky and quick-witted youngest member of the
family was called Maui te atamai-"Maui the skillful."
He was curiously accounted for in the New Zealand under-world.
When he went down through the long cave to his ancestor's home
to find fire, he was soon talked about. "Perhaps this is
the man about whom so much is said in the upper-world."
His ancestress from whom be obtained fire recognized him as the
man called "the deceitful Maui." Even his parents told
him once, "We know you are a tricky fellow-more so than
any other man." One of the New Zealand fire legends while
recording his flight to the under-world and his appearance as
a bird, says: "The men tried to spear him, and to catch
him in nets. At last they cried out, 'Maybe you are the man whose
fame is great in the upper-world.' At once he leaped to the ground
and appeared in the form of a man."
He was not famous for inventions, but he was always ready
to improve upon anything which was already in existence. He could
take the sun in hand and make it do better work. He could tie
the moon so that it had to swim back around the island to the
place in the ocean from which it might rise again, and go slowly
through the night.
His brothers invented a slender, straight and smooth spear
with which to kill birds. He saw the fluttering, struggling birds
twist themselves off the smooth point and escape. He made a good
light bird spear and put notches in it and kept most of the birds
stuck. His brothers finally examined his spear and learned the
reason for its superiority. In the same way they learned how
to spear fish. They could strike and wound and sometimes kill-but
they could not with their smooth spears draw the fish from the
waters of the coral caves. But Maui the youngest made barbs,
so that the fish could not easily shake themselves loose. The
others soon made their spears like his.
The brothers were said to have invented baskets in which to
trap eels, but many eels escaped. Maui improved the basket by
secretly making an inside partition as well as a cover, and the
eels were securely trapped. It took the brothers a long time
to learn the real difference between their baskets and his. One
of the family made a basket like his and caught many eels. Then
Maui became angry and chanted a curse over him and bewildered
him, then changed him into a dog.
The Manahiki Islanders have the legend that Maui made the
moon, but could not get good light from it. He tried experiments
and found that the sun was quite an improvernent. The sun's example
stimulated the moon to shine brighter.
Once Maui became interested in tattooing and tried to make
a dog look better by placing dark lines around the mouth. The
legends say that one of the sacred birds saw the pattern and
then marked the sky with the red lines sometimes seen at sunrise
and sunset. An Hawaiian legend says that Maui tattooed his arm
with a sacred name and thus that arm was strong enough to hold
the sun when he lassoed it. There is a New Zealand legend in
which Maui is made one of three gods who first created man and
then woman from one of the man's ribs.
The Hawaiians dwelling in Hilo have many stories of Maui.
They say that his home was on the northern bank of the Wailuku
River. He had a strong staff made from, an ohia tree (the native
apple tree). With this he punched holes through the lava, making
natural bridges and boiling pools, and new channels for its sometimes
obstructed waters, so that the people could go up or down the
river more easily. Near one of the natural bridges is a figure
of the moon carved in the rocks, referred by some of the natives
Maui is said to have taught his brothers the different kinds
of fish nets and the use of the strong fibre of the olona, which
was much better than cocoanut threads.
The New Zealand stories relate the spear-throwing contests
of Maui and his brothers. As children, however, they were not
allowed the use of wooden spears. They took the stems of long,
heavy reeds and threw them at each other, but Maui's reeds were
charmed into stronger and harder fibre so that he broke his mother's
house and made her recognize him as one of her children. He had
been taken away as soon as he was born by the gods to whom he
was related. When he found his way back home his mother paid
no attention to him. Thus by a spear thrust he won a horne.
The brothers all made fish hooks, but Maui the youngest made
two kinds of hooks-one like his brothers' and one with a sharp
barb. His brothers' hooks were smooth so that it was difficult
to keep the fish from floundering and shaking themselves off,
but they noticed that the fish were held by Maui's hook better
than by theirs. Maui was not inclined to devote himself to hard
work, and lived on his brothers as much as possible-but when
driven out by his wife or his mother he would catch more fish
than the other fishermen. They tried to examine his hooks, but
he always changed his hooks so that they could not see any difference
between his and theirs. At such times they called him the mischievous
one and tried to leave him behind while they went fishing. They
were, however, always ready to give him credit for his improvements.
They dealt generously with him when they learned what he had
really accom, plished. When they caught him with his barbed hook
they forgot the past and called him "ke atamai"-the
The idea that fish hooks made from the jawbones of human beings
were better than others, seemed to have arisen at first from
the angle formed in the lower jawbone. Later these human fish
hooks were considered sacred and therefore possessed of magic
powers. The greater sanctity and power belonged to the bones
which bore more especial relation to the owner. Therefore Maui's
"magic hook," with which he fished up islands, was
made from the jawbone of his ancestress Malmika. It is also said
that in order to have powerful hooks for every-day fishing he
killed two of his children. Their right eyes he threw tip into
the sky to become stars. One became the morning and the other
the evening star.
The idea that the death of any members of the family must
not stand in the way of obtaining magical power, has prevailed
throughout Polynesia. From this angle in the jawbone Maui must
have conceived the idea of making a hook with a piece of bone
or shell which should be fastened to the large bone at a very
sharp angle, thus making a kind of barb. Hooks like this have
been made for ages among the Polynesians.
Maui and his brothers went fishing for eels with bait strung
on the flexible rib of a cocoanut leaf. The stupid brothers did
not fasten the ends of the string. Therefore the eels easily
slipped the bait off and escaped. But Maui made the ends of his
string fast, and captured many eels.
The little things which others did not think about were the
foundation of Maui's fame. Upon these little things he built
his courage to snare the sun and seek fire for mankind.
In a New Zealand legend, quoted by Edward Tregear, Maui is
called Maui-maka-walu, or "Maui with eyes eight." This
eight-eyed Maui would be allied to the Hindoo deities who with
their eight eyes face the four quarters of the world-thus possessing
both insight into the affairs of men and foresight into the future.
Fornander, the Hawaiian ethnologist, says: "In Hawaiian
mythology, Kamapuaa, the demigod opponent of the goddess Pele,
is described as having eight eyes and eight feet; and in the
legends Maka-walu, 'eight-eyed,' is a frequent epithet of gods
and chiefs." He notes this coincidence with the appearance
of some of the principal Hindoo deities as having some bearing
upon the origin of the Polynesians. It may be that a comparative
study of the legends of other islands of the Pacific by some
student will open up other new and important facts.
In Tahiti, on the island Raiatea, a high priest or prophet
lived in the long, long ago. He was known as Maui the prophet
of Tahiti. He was probably not Maui the demigod. Nevertheless
he was represented as possessing very strange prophetical powers.
According to the historian Ellis, who previous to 1830 spent
eight years in the Society and Hawaiian Islands, this prophet
Maui clearly prophesied the coming of an outriggerless canoe
from some foreign land. An outrigger is a log which so balances
a canoe that it can ride safely through the treacherous surf.
The chiefs and prophets charged him with stating the impossible.
He took his wooden calabash and placed it in a pool of water
as an illustration of the way such a boat should float.
Then with the floating bowl before him he uttered the second
prophecy, that boats without line to tie the sails to the masts,
or the masts to the ships, should also come to Tahiti.
When English ships under Captain Wallis and Captain Cook,
in the latter part of the eighteenth century, visited these islands,
the natives cried out, "O the canoes of Maui-the outriggerless
Passenger steamships, and the men-of-war from the great nations,
have taught the Tahitians that boats without sails and masts
can cross the great ocean, and again they have recurred to the
words of the prophet Maui, and have exclaimed, "O the boats
without sails and masts." This rather remarkable prophecy
could easily have occurred to Maui as he saw a wooden calabash
floating over rough waters.
Maui's improvement upon nature's plan in regard to certain
birds is also given in the legends as a proof of his supernatural
White relates the story as follows: "Maui requested some
birds to go and fetch water for him. The first one would not
obey, so he threw it into the water. He requested another bird
to go-and it refused, so he threw it into the fire, and its feathers
were burnt. Dut the next bird obeyed, but could not carry the
water, and he rewarded it by making the feathers of the fore
part of its head white. Then he asked another bird to go, and
it filled its ears with water and brought it to Maui, who drank,
and then pulled the bird's legs and made them long in payment
for its act of kindness."
Diffenbach says: "Maui, the Adam of New Zealand, left
the cat's cradle to the New Zealanders as an inheritance."
The name "Whai" was given to the game. It exhibited
the various steps of creation according to Maori mythology. Every
change in the cradle shows some act in creation. Its various
stages were called "houses." Diffenbach says again:
"In this game of Maui they are great proficients. It is
a game like that called cat's cradle in Europe. It is intimately
connected with their ancient traditions and in the different
figures which the cord is made to assume whilst held on both
hands, the outline of their different varieties of houses, canoes
or figures of men and women are imagined to be represented."
One writer connects this game with witchcraft, and says it was
brought from the under-world. Some parts of the puzzle show the
adventures of Maui, especially his attempt to win immortality
In New Zealand it was said Maui found a large, fine-grained
stone block, broke it in pieces, and from the fragments learned
how to fashion stone implements.
White also tells the New Zealand legend of Maui and the winds.
"Maui caught and held all the winds save the west wind.
He put each wind into a cave, so that it might not blow. He sought
in vain for the west wind, but could not find from whence it
came. If he had found the cave in which it stayed he would have
closed the entrance to that cave with rocks. When the west wind
blows lightly it is because Maui has got near to it, and has
nearly caught it, and it has gone into its home, the cave, to
escape him. When the winds of the south, east, and north blow
furiously it is because the rocks have been removed by the stupid
people who could not learn the lessons taught by Maui. At other
times Maui allows these winds to blow in hurricanes to punish
that people, and also that he may ride on these furious winds
in search of the west wind."
In the Hawaiian legends Maui is represented as greatly interested
in making and flying kites. His favorite place for the sport
was by the boiling pools of the Wailuku river near Hilo. He had
the winds under his control and would call for them to push his
kites in the direction he wished. His incantation calling up
the winds is given in this Maui proverb-
White in his "Ancient History of the Maoris," relates
some of Maui's experiences with the people whom he found on the
islands brought up from the under-world. On one island he found
a sand house with eight hundred gods living in it. Apparently
Maui discovered islands with inhabitants, and was reported to
have fished them up out of the depths of the ocean. Fishing was
sailing over the ocean until distant lands were drawn near or
Maui walked over the islands and found men living on them
and fires burning near their homes. He evidently did not know
much about fire, for he took it in his hands. He was badly burned
and rushed into the sea. Down he dived under the cooling waters
and came up with one of the New Zealand islands on his shoulders.
But his hands were still burning, so wherever he held the island
it was set on fire.
These fires are still burning in the secret recesses of the
volcanoes, and sometimes burst out in flowing lava. Then Maui
paid attention to the people whom he had fished up. He tried
to teach them, but they did not learn as he thought they should.
He quickly became angry and said, "It is a waste of light
for the sun to shine on such stupid people." So he tried
to hold his hands between them and the sun, but th rays of the
sun were too many and too strong; there fore, he could not shut
them out. Then he tried the moon and managed to make it dark
a part of the time each month. In this way he made a little trouble
for the stupid people.
There are other hints in the legends concerning Maui's desire
to be revenged upon any one who incurred his displeasure. It
was said that Maui for a time lived in the heavens above the
earth. Here he had a foster brother Maru. The two were cultivating
the fields. Maru sent a snowstorm over Maui's field. (It would
seem as if this might be a Polynesian memory of a cold land where
their ancestors knew the cold winter, or a lesson learned from
the snow-caps of high mountains.) At any rate, the snow blighted
Maui's crops. Maui retaliated by praying for rain to destroy
Maru's fields. But Maru managed to save a part of his crops.
Other legends make Maui the aggressor. At the last, however,
Maui became very angry. The foster parents tried to soothe the
two men by saying, "Live in peace with each other and do
not destroy each other's food." But Maui was implacable
and lay in wait for his foster brother, who was in the habit
of carrying fruit and grass as an offering to the gods of a temple
situated on the summit of a hill. Here Maui killed Maru and then
went away to the earth.
This legend is told by three or four different, tribes of
New Zealand and is very similar to the Hebrew story of Cain and
Abel. At this late day it is difficult to say definitely whether
or not it owes its origin to the early touch of Christianity
upon New Zealand when white men first began to live with the
natives. It is somewhat similar to stories found in the Tonga
Islands and also in the Hawaiian group, where a son of the first
gods, or rather of the first men, kills a brother. In each case
there is the shadow of the Biblical idea. It seems safe to infer
that such legends are not entirely drawn from contact with Christian
civilization. The natives claim that these stories are very ancient,
and that their fathers knew them before the white men sailed
on the Pacific.
MAUI AND TUNA.
WHEN Maui returned from the voyages
in which he discovered or "fished up" from the ocean
depths new islands, he gave deep thought to the things he had
found. As the islands appeared to come out of the water he saw
they were inhabited. There were houses and stages for drying
and preserving food. He was greeted by barking dogs. Fires were
burning, food cooking and people working. He evidently had gone
so far away from home that a strange people was found. The legend
which speaks of the death of his brothers, "eaten"
by the great fish drawn up from the floor of the sea, may very
easily mean that the new people killed and ate the brothers.
Maui apparently learned some new lessons, for on his return
he quickly established a home of his own, and determined to live
after the fashion of the families in the new islands.
Maui sought Hina-a-te-lepo, "daughter of the swamp,"
and secured her as his wife. The New Zealand tribes tell legends
which vary in different localities about this woman Hina. She
sometimes bore the name Rau-kura-"The red plume."
She cared for his thatched house as any other Polynesian woman
was in the habit of doing. She attempted the hurried task of
cooking his food before he snared the sun and gave her sufficient
daylight for her labors.
They lived near the bank of a river from which Hina was in
the habit of bringing water for the household needs.
One day she went down to the stream with her calabash. She
was entwined with wreaths of leaves and flowers, as was the custom
among Polynesian women. While she was standing on the bank, Tuna-roa,
"the long eel," saw her. He swam up to the bank and
suddenly struck her and knocked her into the water and covered
her with slime from the blow given by his tail.
Hina escaped and returned to her home, saying nothing to Maui
about the trouble. But the next day, while getting water, she
was again overthrown and befouled by the slime of Tuna-roa.
Then Hina became angry and reported the trouble to Maui.
Maui decided to punish the long eel and started out to find
his hiding place. Somie of the New Zealand legends as collected
by White, state that Tuna-roa was a very smooth skinned chief,
who lived on the opposite bank of the stream, and, seeing Hina,
had insulted her.
When Maui saw this chief, he caught two pieces of wood over
which he was accustomed to slide his canoe into the sea. These
he carried to the stream and laid them from bank to bank as a
bridge over which he might entice Tuna-roa to cross.
Maui took his stone axe, Ma-Tori-Tori, "the severer,"
and concealed himself near the bank of the river.
When "the long eel" had crossed the stream, Maui
rushed out and killed him with a mighty blow of the stone axe,
cutting the head from the body.
Other legends say that Maui found Tuna-roa living as an eel
in a deep water hole, in a swamp on the seacoast of Tata-a, part
of the island Ao-tea-roa. Other stories located Tuna-roa in the
river near Maui's home.
Maui saw that he could not get at his enemy without letting
off the water which protected him.
Therefore into the forest went Maui, and with sacred ceremonies,
selected trees from the wood of which he prepared tools and weapons.
Meanwhile, in addition to the insult given to Hina, Tuna-roa
had caught and devoured two of Maui's children, which made Maui
more determined to kill him.
Maui made the narrow spade (named by the Maoris of New Zealand
the "ko," and by the Hawaiians "o-o") and
the sharp spears, with which to pierce either the earth or his
enemy. These spears and spades were consecrated to the work of
preparing a ditch by which to draw off the water protecting "the
The work of trench-making was accomplished with many incantations
and prayers. The ditch was named "The sacred digging,"
and was tabooed to all other purposes except that of catching
Across this ditch Maui stretched a strong net, and then began
a new series of chants and ceremonies to bring down an abundance
of rain. Soon the flood came and the overflowing waters rushed
down the sacred ditch. The walls of the deep pool gave way and
"the long eel" was carried down the trench into the
waiting net. Then there was commotion. Tuna-roa was struggling
Maui saw him and hastened to grasp his stone axe, "the
severer." Hurrying to the net, he struck Tuna-roa a terrible
blow, and cut off the head. With a few more blows, he cut the
body in pieces. The head and tail were carried out into the sea.
The head became fish and the tail became the great conger-eel.
Other parts of the body became sea monsters. But some parts which
fell in fresh water became the common eels. From the hairs of
the head came certain vines and creepers among the plants.
After the death of Tuna-roa the offspring of Maui were in
no danger of being killed and soon multiplied into a large family.
Another New Zealand legend related by White says that Maui
built a sliding place of logs, over which Tuna-roa must pass
when coming from the river.
Maui also made a screen behind which he could secrete himself
while watching for Tuna-roa.
He commanded Hina to come down to the river and wait on the
bank to attract Tuna-roa. Soon the long eel was seen in the water
swimming near to Hina. Hina went to a place back of the logs
which Maui had laid down.
Tuna-roa came towards her, and began to slide down the skids.
Maui sprang out from his hiding place and killed Tuna-roa
with his axe, and cut him in pieces.
The tail became the conger-eel. Parts of his body became fresh-water
eels. Some of the blood fell upon birds and always after marked
them with red spots. Some of the blood was thrown into certain
trees, making this wood always red. The muscles became vines
From this time the children of Maui caught and ate the eels
of both salt and fresh water. Eel traps were made, and Maui taught
the people the proper chants or incantations to use when catching
This legend of Maui and the long eel was found by White in
a number of forms among the different tribes of New Zealand,
but does not seem to have had currency in many other island groups.
In Turner's "Samoa" a legend is related which was
probably derived from the Maui stories and yet differs in its
romantic results. The Samoans say that among their ancient ones
dwelt a woman named Sina. Sina among the Polynesians is the same
as Hina-the "h" is softened into "s". She
captured a small eel and kept it as a pet. It grew large and
strong and finally attacked and bit her. She fled, but the eel
followed her evervwhere. Her father came to her assistance and
raised high mountains between the eel and herself.
But the eel passed over the barrier and pursued her. Her mother
raised a new series of mountains. But again the eel surmounted
the difficulties and attempted to seize Sina. She broke away
from him and ran on and on. Finally she wearily passed through
a village. The people asked her to stay and eat with them, but
she said they could only help her by delivering her from the
pursuing eel. The inhabitants of that village were afraid of
the eel and refused to fight for her. So she ran on to another
place. Here the chief offered her a drink of water and promised
to kill the eel for her. He prepared awa, a stupefying drink,
and put poison in it. When the eel came along the chief asked
him to drink. He took the awa and prepared to follow Sina. When
he came to the place where she was the pains of death had already
seized him. While dying he begged her to bury his head by her
home. This she did, and in time a plant new to the islands sprang
up. It became a tree, and finally produced a cocoanut, whose
two eyes could continually look into the face of Sina.
Tuna, in the legends of Fiji, was a demon of the sea. He lived
in a deep sea cave, into which he sometimes shut himself behind
closed doors of coral. When he was hungry, he swam through the
ocean shadows, always watching the restless surface. When a canoe
passed above him, he would throw himself swiftly through the
waters, upset the canoe, and seize some of the boatmen and devour
them. He was greatly feared by all the fishermen of the Fijian
Roko-a mo-o or dragon god-in his journey among the islands,
stopped at a village by the sea and asked for a canoe and boatmen.
The people said: "We have nothing but a very old canoe out
there by the water." He went to it and found it in a very
bad condition. He put it in the water, and decided that he could
use it. Then he asked two men to go with him and paddle, but
they refused because of fear, and explained this fear by telling
the story of the water demon, who continually sought the destruction
of this canoe, and also their own death. Roko encouraged them
to take him to wage battle with Tuna, telling them he would destroy
the monster. They paddled until they were directly over Tuna's
cave. Roko told them to go off to one side and wait and watch,
saying: "I am going down to see this Tuna. If you see red
blood boil up through the water, you may be sure that Tuna has
been killed. If the blood is black, then you will know that he
has the victory and I am dead."
Roko leaped into the water and went down-down to the door
of the cave. The coral doors were closed. He grasped them in
his strong hands and tore them open, breaking them in pieces.
Inside he found cave after cave of coral, and broke his way through
until at last he awoke Tuna. The angry demon cried: "Who
is that?" Roko answered: "It is I, Roko, alone. Who
Tuna aroused himself and demanded Roko's business and who
guided him to that place. Roko replied: "No one has guided
me. I go from place to place, thinking that there is no one else
in the world."
Tuna shook himself angrily. "Do you think I am nothing?
This day is your last."
Roko replied: "Perhaps so. If the sky falls, I shall
Tuna leaped upon Roko and bit him. Then came the mighty battle
of the coral caves. Roko broke Tuna into several pieces-and the
red blood poured in boiling bubbles upward through the clear
ocean waters, and the boatmen cried: "The blood is red the
blood is red-Tuna is dead by the hand of Roko."
Roko lived for a time in Fiji, where his descendants still
find their home. The people use this chant to aid them in difficulties:
In the Hawaiian legends, Hina was Maui's mother rather than
his wife, and Kuna (Tuna) was a mo-o, a dragon or gigantic lizard
possessing miraculous powers.
Hina's home was in the large cave under the beautiful Rainbow
Falls near the city of Hilo. Above the falls the bed of the river
is along the channel of an ancient lava flow. Sometimes the water
pours in a torrent over the rugged lava, sometimes it passes
through underground passages as well as along the black river
bed, and sometimes it thrusts itself into boiling pools.
Maui lived on the northern side of the river, but a chief
named Kuna-moo-a dragon-lived in the boiling pools. He attacked
Hina and threw a dam across the river below Rainbow Falls, intending
to drown Hina in her cave. The great ledge of rock filled the
river bed high up the bank on the Hilo side of the river. Hina
called on Maui for aid. Maui came quickly and with mighty blows
cut out a new channel for the river-the path it follows to this
day. The waters sank and Hina remained unharmed in her cave.
The place where Kuna dwelt was called Wai-kuna -the Kuna water.
The river in which Hina and Kuna dwelt bears the name Wailuku-"the
destructive water." Maui went above Kuna's home and poured
hot water into the river. This part of the myth could easily
have arisen from a lava outburst on the side of the volcano above
the river. The hot water swept in a flood over Kuna's home. Kuna
jumped from the boiling pools over a series of small falls near
his home into the river below. Here the hot water again scalded
him and in pain he leaped from the river to the bank, where Maui
killed him by beating him with a club. His body was washed down
the river over the falls under which Hina dwelt, into the ocean.
The story of Kuna or Tuna is a legend with a foundation in
the enmity between two chiefs of the long ago, and also in a
desire to explain the origin of the family of eels and the invention
of nets and traps.
MAUI AND HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW.
THE "Stories of Maui's Brother-in-Law,"
and of "Maui seeking Immortality," are not found in
Hawaiian mythology. We depend upon Sir George Grey and John White
for the New Zealand myths in which both of these legends occur.
Maui's sister Hina-uri married Ira-waru, who was willing to
work with his skillful brother-in-law. They hunted in the forests
and speared birds. They fished and farmed together. They passed
through many experiences similar to those Maui's own brothers
had suffered before the brother-in-law took their place as Maui's
companion. They made spears together-but Maui made notched barbs
for his spear ends-and slipped them off when Ira-waru came near.
So for a long time the proceeds of bird hunting fell to Maui.
But after a time the brother-in-law learned the secret as the
brothers had before, and Maui was looked up to by his fellow
hunter as the skillful one. Sometimes Ira-waru was able to see
at once Maui's plan and adopt it. He discovered Maui's method
of making the punga or eel baskets for catching eels.
The two hunters went to the forest to find a certain creeping
vine with which to weave their eel snares. Ira-waru made a basket
with a hole, by which the eels could enter, but they could turn
around and go out the same way. So he very seldom caught an eel.
But Maui made his basket with a long funnelshaped door, by which
the eels could easily slide into the snare but could scarcely
escape. He made a door in the side which he fastened tight until
he wished to pour the eels out.
Ira-waru immediately made a basket like Maui. Then Maui became
angry and uttered incantations over Ira-waru. The man dropped
on the ground and became a dog. Maui returned home and met his
sister, who charged him with sorcery concerning her husband.
Maui did not deny the exercise of his power, but taught his
sister a chant and sent her out to the level country. There she
uttered her chant and a strange dog with long hair came to her,
barking and leaping around her. Then she knew what Maui had done.
"Thus Ira-waru became the first of the long-haired dogs
whose flesh has been tabooed to women."
The Tahu and Han tribes of New Zealand tell a different story.
They say that Maui went to visit Ira-waru. Together they set
out on a journey. After a time they rested by the wayside and
became sleepy. Maui asked Ira-waru to cleanse his head. This
gave him the restful, soothing touch which aided sleep. Then
Maui proposed that Ira-waru sleep. Taking the head in his hands,
Maui put his brother-in-law to sleep. Then by incantations he
made the sleep very deep and prolonged. Meanwhile he pulled the
ears and arms and limbs until they were properly lengthened.
He drew out the under jaw until it had the form of a dog's mouth.
He stretched the end of the backbone into a tail, and then wakened
Ira-waru and drove him back when he tried to follow the path
to the settlement.
Hina-uri went out and called her husband. He came to her,
leaping and barking. She decided that this was her husband, and
in her agony reproached Maui and wandered away.
The Rua-nui story-tellers of New Zealand say that Maui's anger
was aroused against Ira-waru because he ate all the bait when
thev went fishing, and they could catch no fish after paddling
out to the fishing grounds. When they carne to land, Maui told
Irawarn to lie down in the sand as a roller over which to drag
the canoe up the beach. When he was lying helpless under the
canoe, Maui changed him into a dog.
The Arawa legends make the cause of Maui's anger the success
of Ira-waru while fishing. Ira-waru had many fish while Maui
had captured but few. The story is told thus: "Ira-waru
hooked a fish and in pulling it in his line became entangled
with that of Maui. Maui felt the jerking and began to pull in
his line. Soon they pulled their lines close up to the canoe,
one to the bow, the other to the stern, where each was sitting.
Maui said: 'Let me pull the lines to me, as the fish is on my
hook.' His brother-in-law said: 'Not so; the fish is on mine.'
But Maui said: 'Let me pull my line in.' Ira-waru did so and
saw that the fish was on his hook. Then he said: 'Untwist your
lines and let mine go, that I may pull the fish in.' Maui said:
I will do so, but let me have time.' He took the fish off Ira-waru's
hook and saw that there was a barb on the hook. He said to Ira-waru:
'Perhaps we ought to return to land! When they were dragging
the canoe on shore, Maui said to Ira-waru: 'Get between the canoe
and outrigger and drag.' Irawaru did so and Maui leaped on the
outrigger and weighed it heavily down and crushed Ira-waru prostrate
on the beach. Maui trod on him and pulled his backbone long like
a tail and changed him into a dog."
Maui is said to have tattooed the muzzle of the dog with a
beautiful pattern which the birds (kahui-zara, a flock of tern)
used in marking the sky. From this also came the red glow which
sometimes flushes the face of man.
Another Arawa version of the legend was that Mau and Ira-waru
were journeying together. Ira-waru wa gluttonous and ate the
best food. At last Maui determined to punish his companion. By
incantation lengthened the way until Ira-waru became faint an
weary. Maui had provided himself with a little food and therefore
was enabled to endure the long way. While Ira-waru slept Maui
trod on his backbone and lengthened it and changed the arms and
limbs into the legs of a dog. When Hina-uri saw the state of
her husband she went into the thatched house by which Ira-waru
had so often stood watching the hollow log in which she dried
the fish and preserved the birds speared in the mountains. She
bound her girdle and hala-leaf apron around her and went down
to the sea to drown herself, that her body might be eaten by
the monsters of the sea. When she came to the shell-covered beach,
she sat down and sang her death song-
"I weep, I call to the steep billows of the sea
And to him, the great, the ocean god;
To monsters, all now hidden,
To come and bury me,
Who now am wrapped in mourning.
Let the waves wear their mourning, too,
And sleep as sleeps the dead."
Then Hina-uri threw herself into the sea and was borne on
the waves many moons, at last drifting to shore, to be found
by two fishermen. They carried the body off to the fire and warmed
it back to life. They brushed off the sea moss and sea weeds
and rubbed her until she awoke.
Soon they told their chief, Tini-rau, what a beautiful woman
they had found in the sea. He came and took her away to make
her one of his wives. But the other wives were jealous and drove
Hina-uri away from the chief's houses.
Another New Zealand legend says that Hina came to the sea
and called for a little fish to aid her in going away from the
island. It tried to carry her, but was too weak. Hina struck
it with her open hand. It had striped sides forever after. She
tried a larger fish, but fell off before they had gone far from
shore. Her blow gave this fish its beautiful blue spots. Another
received black spots. Another she stamped her foot upon, making
it flat. At last a shark carried her far away. She was very thirsty,
and broke a cocoanut on the shark's head, making a bump, which
has been handed down for generations. The shark carried her to
the home of the two who rescued her and gave her new strength.
Meanwhile Rupe or Maui-mua, a brother of Hinauri and Maui,
grieved for his sister. He sought for her throughout the land
and then launched his canoe upon the blue waters surrounding
Ao-tea-roa (The Great White Land; the ancient native New Zealand)
and searched the coasts. He only learned that his sister had,
as the natives said, "leaped into the waters and been carried
away into the heavens."
Rupe's heart filled with the desire to find and protect the
frenzied sister who had probably taken a canoe and floated away,
out of the horizon, seen from New Zealand coasts, into new horizons.
During the Viking age of the Pacific, when many chiefs sailed
long distances, visiting the most remote islands of Polynesia,
they frequently spoke of breaking through from the home land
into new heavens-or of climbing up the path of the sun on the
waters into a new heaven. This was their poetical way of passing
from horizon to horizon. The horizon around their particular
island surrounded their complete world. Outside, somewhere, were
other worlds and other heavens. Rupe's voyage was an idyll of
the Pacific. It was one more story to be added to the prose poems
of consecrated travel. It was a brother feeling through the mysteries
of unknown lands for a sister, as dear to him as an Evangeline
has been to other men.
From the mist-land of the Polynesian race comes this story
of the trickery of Maui the learned, and the faithfulness of
his older brother Maui-mua or Rupe-one of the "five forgetful
Mauis." Rupe hoisted mat-sails over his canoe and thus made
the winds serve him. He paddled the canoe onward through the
hotlis when calms rested on glassy waves.
Thus he passed out of sight of Ao-tea-roa, away from his brothers,
and out of the reach of all tricks and incantations of Maui,
the mischievous. He sailed until a new island rose out of the
sea to greet him. Here in a "new heaven" he found friends
to care for him and prepare him for his longer journey. His restless
anxiety for his sister urged him onward until days lengthened
into months and months into years. He passed from the horizons
of newly-discovered islands, into the horizons of circling skies
around islands of which he had never heard before. Sometimes
he found relatives, but more frequently his welcome came from
those who could trace no historical touch in their genealogies.
Here and there, apparently, he found traces of a woman whose
description answered that of his sister Hina-uri. At last he
looked through the heavens upon a new world, and saw his sister
in great trouble.
According to some legends the jealous wives of the great chief,
Tini-rau, attack Hina, who was known among them as Hina-te-ngaru-moana,
"Hina, the daughter of the ocean." Tini-rau and Hina
lived away from the village of the chief until their little boy
was born. When they needed food, the chief said, "Let us
go to my settlement and we shall have food provided."
But Hina chanted:
and sufficient food fell before them. After a time their frail
clothing wore out, and the cold chilled them, then Hina again
uttered the incantation and clothing was provided for their need.
But the jealous wives, two in number, finally heard where
Hina and the chief were living, and started to see them.
Tini-rau said to Hina, "Here come my other wives-be careful
how you act before them."
She replied, "If they come in anger it will be evil."
She armed herself with an obsidian or volcanic-glass knife,
and waited their coming.
They tried to throw enchantments around her to, kill her.
Then one of them made a blow at her with a weapon, but she turned
it aside and killed her enemy with the obsidian knife.
Then the other wife made an attack, and again the obsidian
knife brought death. She ripped open the stomachs of the jealous
ones and showed the chief fish lines and sinkers and other property
which they had eaten in the past and which Tini-rau had never
been able to trace.
Another legend says that the two women came to kill Hina when
they heard of the birth of her boy. For a time she was greatly
terrified. Then she saw that they were coming from different
directions. She attacked the nearest one with a stone and killed
her. The body burst open, and was seen to be full of green stone.
Then she killed the second wife in the same way, and found more
green stones. "Thus, according to the legends, originated
the greenstone" from which the choicest and most valuable
stone tools have since been made. For a time the chief and Hina
lived happily together. Then he began to neglect her and abuse
her, until she cried aloud for her brother-
Rupe assumed the form of a bird and flew down to this world
in which he had found his sister. He chanted as he came down-
He folded the mother and her boy under his wings and flew
away with them. Sir George Gray relates a legend in which Maui-mua
or Rupe is recorde as having carried his sister and her child
to one of the new lands, found in his long voyage, where dwelt
an aged relative, of chief rank, with his retainers.
Some legends say that Tini-rau tried to catch Rupe, who was
compelled to drop the child in order to escape with the mother.
Tini-rau caught the child and carefully cared for him until he
grew to be a strong young lad.
Then he wanted to find his mother and bring her back to his
father. How this was done, how Rupe took his sister back to the
old chief, and how civil wars arose are not all these told in
the legends of the Maoris. Thus the tricks of Maui the mischievous
brought trouble for a time, but were finally overshadowed by
happy homes in neighboring lands for his suffering sister and
MAUI'S KITE FLYING.
MAUI the demi-god was sometimes the
Hercules of Polynesia. His exploits were fully as marvelous as
those of the hero of classic mythology. He snared the sun. He
pulled up islands from the ocean depths. He lifted the sky into
its present position and smoothed its arched surface with his
stone adze. These stories belong to all Polynesia.
There are numerous less important local myths, some of them
peculiar to New Zealand, some to the Society Islands and some
to the Hawaiian group.
One of the old native Hawaiians says that in the long, long
ago the birds were flying around the homes of the ancient people.
The flutter of their wings could be heard and the leaves and
branches moved when the motion of the wings ceased and the wanderers
through the air found resting places. Then came sweet music from
the trees and the people marvelled. Only one of all mankind could
see the winged warblers. Maui, the demi-god, had clear vision.
The swift-flying wings covered with red or gold he saw. The throats
tinted many colors and reflecting the sunlight with diamond sparks
of varied hues he watched while they trembled with the melody
of sweet bird songs. All others heard but did not see. They were
blind and yet had open vision.
Sometimes the iiwi (a small red bird) fluttered in the air
and uttered its shrill, happy song, and Maui saw and heard. But
the bird at that time was without color in the eyes of the ancient
people and only the clear voice was heard, while no speck of
bird life flecked the clear sky overhead.
At one time a god from one of the other islands came to visit
Maui. Each boasted of and described the beauties and nierits
of his island. While they were conversing, Maui called for his
friends the birds. They gathered around the house and fluttered
among the leaves of the surrounding trees. Soon their sweet voices
filled the air on all sides. All the people wondered and worshiped,
thinking they heard the fairy or menchune people. It was said
that Maui had painted the bodies of his invisible songsters and
for a long time had kept the delight of their flashing colors
to himself. But when the visitor had rejoiced in the mysterious
harmonies, Maui decided to take away whatever veil shut out the
sight of these things beautiful, that his bird friends might
be known and honored ever after. So he made the birds reveal
themselves perched in the trees or flying in the air. The clear
eyes of the god first recognized the new revelation, then all
the people became dumb before the sweet singers adorned in all
their brilliant tropical plumage.
The beautiful red birds, iiwi and akakani, and the birds of
glorious yellow feathers, the oo and the mamo, were a joy to
both eye and ear and found high places in Hawaiian legend and
story, and all gave their most beautiful feathers for the cloaks
and helmets of the chiefs.
The Maoris of New Zealand say that Maui could at will change
himself into a bird and with his feathered friends find a home
in leafy shelters. In bird form he visited the gods of the under-world.
His capricious soul was sensitive to the touch of all that mysterious
life of nature.
With the birds as companions and the winds as his servants
Maui must soon have turned his inventive mind to kite making.
The Hawaiian myths are perhaps the only ones of the Pacific
Ocean which give to any of the gods the pleasure and excitement
of kite flying. Maui, after repeated experiments, made a large
kite for himself. It was much larger than any house of his time
or generation. He twisted a long line from the strong fibers
of the native plant known as the olona. He endowed both kite
and string with marvelous powers and launched the kite up toward
the clouds. It rose very slowly. The winds were not lifting it
into the sky.
Maui remembered that an old priest lived in Waipio valley,
the largest and finest valley of the large island, Hawaii, on
which he made his home.
This priest had a covered calabash in which he compelled the
winds to hide when he did not wish them to play on land and sea.
The priest's name was Kaleiioku, and his calabash was known as
ipu-makania ka maumau, "the calabash of the perpetual winds."
Maui called for the priest who had charge of the winds to open
his calabash and let them come up to Hilo and blow along the
Wailuku river. The natives say that the place where Maui stood
was marked by the pressure of his feet in the lava rocks of the
river bank as he braced himself to hold the kite against the
increasing force of the winds which pushed it towards the sky.
Then the enthusiasm of kite flying filled his youthful soul and
he cried aloud, screaming his challenge along the coast of the
sea toward Waipio-
"O winds, winds of Waipio,
In the calabash of Kaleiioku.
Come from the ipu-makard,
O wind, the wind of Hilo,
Come quickly, come with power."
Then the priest lifted the cover of the calabash of the winds
and let the strong winds of Hilo escape. Along the sea coast
they rushed until as they entered Hilo Bay they heard the voice
of Maui calling-
With a tumultuous rush the strong winds turned toward the
mountains. They forced their way along the gorges and palisades
of the Wailuku river. They leaped into the heavens, making a
fierce attack upon the monster which Maui had sent into the sky.
The kite struggled as it was pushed upward by the hands of the
fierce winds, but Maui rejoiced. His heart was uplifted by the
joy of the conflict in which his strength to hold was pitted
against the power of the winds to tear away. And again he shouted
toward the sea-
The winds which had been stirring up storms on the face of
the waters came inland. They dashed against Maui. They climbed
the heights of the skies until they fell with full violence against
their mighty foe hanging in the heavens.
The kite had been made of the strongest kapa (paper cloth)
which Maui's mother could prepare. It was not torn, although
it was bent backward to its utmost limit. Then the strain came
on the strong cord of olona fibre. The line was stretched and
strained as the kite was pushed back. Then Maui called again
and again for stronger winds to come. The cord was drawn out
until the kite was far above the mountains. At last it broke
and the kite was tossed over the craters of the volcanoes to
the land of the district of Ka-u on the other side of the island.
Then Maui was angry and hastily leaped over the mountains,
which are nearly fourteen thousand feet in altitude. In a half
dozen strides he had crossed the fifty or sixty miles from his
home to the place where the kite lay. He could pass over many
miles with a single step. His narne was Maui-Mama, "Maui
the Swift." When Maui returned with his kite he was more
careful in calling the winds to aid him in his sport.
The people watched their wise neighbor and soon learned that
the kite could be a great blessing to them. When it was soaring
in the sky there was always dry and pleasant weather. It was
a day for great rejoicing. They could spread out their kapa cloth
to dry as long as the kite was in the sky. They could carry out
their necessary work without fear of the rain. Therefore when
any one saw the kite beginning to float along the mountain side
he would call out joyfully, "E! Maui's kite is in the heavens."
Maui would send his kite into the blue sky and then tie the line
to the great black stones in the bed of the Wailuku river.
Maui soon learned the power of his kite when blown upon by
a fierce wind. With his accustomed skill he planned to make use
of his strong servant, and therefore took the kite with him on
hisjourneys to the other islands, using it to aid in making swift
voyages. With the wind in the right direction, the kite could
pull his double canoe very easily and quickly to its destination.
Time passed, and even the demi-god died. The fish hook with
which he drew the Hawaiian Islands up from the depths of the
sea was allowed to lie on the lava by the Wailuku river until
it became a part of the stone. The double canoe was carried far
inland and then permitted to petrify by the river side. The two
stones which represent the double canoe now bear the name "Waa-Kauhi,"
and the kite has fallen from the sky far up on the mountain side,
where it still rests, a flat plot of rich land between Mauna
Kea and Mauna Loa.
THE OAHU LEGENDS OF MAUI.
SEVERAL Maui legends have been located
on the island of Oahu. They were given by Mr. Kaaia to Mr. T.
G. Thrum, the publisher of what is well known in the Hawaiian
Islands as "Thrum's Annual." He has kindly furnished
them for added interest to the present volume. The legends have
a distinctly local flavor confined entirely to Oahu. It has seemed
best to reserve them for a chapter by themselves although they
are chiefly variations of stories already told.
MAUI AND THE TWO GODS.
This history of Maui and his grandmother Hina begins with
their arrival from foreign lands. They dwelt in Kane-ana (Kane's
cave), Waianae, Oahu. This is an "ana," or cave, at
Puu-o-hulu. Hina had wonderful skill in making all kinds of tapa
according to the custom of the women of ancient Hawaii.
Maui went to the Koolau side and rested at Kaha-luu, a diving
place in Koolaupoko. In that place there is a noted hill called
Ma-eli-eli. This is the story of that hill. Maui threw up a pile
of dirt and concealed rubbish under it. The two gods, Kane and
Kanaloa, came along and asked Maui what he was doing. He said,
"What you see. You two dig on that side to the foot of the
pali, (precipice) and I will go down at Kaha-luu. If you two
dig through first, you may kill me. If I get through first I
will kill you," They agreed, and began to dig and throw
up the dirt. Then Maui dug three times and tossed up some of
the hills of that place. Kane and Kanaloa saw that Maui was digging
very fast, so they put forth very great strength and threw the
dirt into a hill. Meanwhile Maui ran away to the other side of
the island. Thus by the aid of the gods the hill Ala-eli-eli
was thrown up and received its name "eli," meaning
"dig." "Ma-eli-eli" meant "the place
HOW THEY FOUND FIRE.
It was said that Maui and Hina had no fire. They where often
cold and had no cooked food. Maui saw flames rising in a distant
place and ran to see how they were made. When he came to that
place the fire was out and some birds flew away. One of them
was Ka-Alae-huapi, "the stingy Alae"-a small duck,
the Hawaiian mud hen. Maui watched again and saw fire. When he
went up the birds saw him coming and scattered the fire, carrying
the ashes into the water; but he leaped and caught the little
Alae. "Ali!" he said, "I will kill you, because
you do not let me have fire." The bird replied, "If
you kill me you cannot find fire." Maui said, "Where
is fire?" The Alae said, "Go up on the high land where
beautiful plants with large leaves are standing; rub their branches."
Maui set the bird free and went inland from Halawa and found
dry land taro. He began to rub the stalks, but only juice came
out like water. He had no red fire. He was very angry and said,
"If that lying Alae is caught again by me I will be its
After a while he saw the fire burning and ran swiftly. The
birds saw him and cried, "The cooking is over. Here comes
the swift grandchild of Hina." They scattered the fire;
threw the ashes away and flew into the water. But again Maui
caught the Alae and began to kill it, saying: "You gave
me a plant full of water from which to get fire." The bird
said, "If I die you can never find fire. I will give you
the secret of fire. Take a branch of that dry tree and rub."
Maui held the bird fast in one hand while he rubbed with the
other until smoke and fire came out. Then he took the fire stick
and rubbed the head of the bird, making a place where red and
white feathers have grown ever since.
He returned to Hina and taught her how to make fire, using
the two fire sticks and how to twist coconut fibre to catch the
fire when it had been kindled in wood. But the Alae was not forgotten.
It was called huapi, "stingy," because it selfishly
kept the knowledge of fire making to itself.
MAUI CATCHING THE SUN.
Maui watched Hina making tapa. The wet tapa was spread on
a long tapa board, and Hina began at one end to pound it into
shape; pounding from one end to another. He noticed that sunset
came by the time she had pounded to the middle of the board.
The sun hurried so fast that she could only begin her work before
the day was past.
He went to the hill Hele-a-ka-la, which means "journey
of the sun." He thought he would catch the sun and make
it miove slowly. He went up the hill and waited. When the sun
began to rise, Maui made himself long, stretching up toward the
sky. Soon the shining legs of the sun came up the hillside. He
saw Maui and began to run swiftly, but Maui reached out and caught
one of the legs, saying: "O sun, I will kill you. You are
a mischief maker. You make trouble for Hina by going so fast."
Then he broke the shining leg of the sun. The sufferer said,
"I will change my way and go slowly-six months slow and
six months faster." Thus arose the saying, "Long shall
be the daily journey of the sun and he shall give light for all
the people's toil." Hina learned that she could pound until
she was tired while the farmers could plant and take care of
their fields. Thus also this hill received its name Hele-a-ka-la.
This is one of the hills of Waianae near the precipice of the
UNITING THE ISLANDS.
Maui suggested to Hina that he had better try to draw the
islands together, uniting them in one land. Hina told Maui to
go and see Alae-nui-a-Hina, who would tell him what to do. The
Alae told him they must go to Ponaha-ke-one (a fishing place
outside of Pearl Harbor) and find Ka-uniho-kahi, "the one
toothed," who held the land under the sea.
Maui went back to Hina. She told him to ask his brothers to
go fishing with him. They consented and pushed out into the sea.
Soon Maui saw a bailing dish floating by the canoe and picked
it up. It was named Hina-a-ke-ka, "Hina who fell off."
They paddled to Ponaha-ke-one. When they stopped they saw, a
beautiful young wornan in the boat. Then they anchored and again
looked in the boat, but the young woman was gone. They saw the
bailing dish and, threw it into the sea.
Maui-mua threw his hook and caught a large fish, which was
seen to be a shark as they drew it to the surface. At once they
cut the line. So also Mauihope and Maui-waena. At last Maui threw
his hook Manai-i-ka-lani into the sea. It went down, down into
the depths. Maui cried, "Hina-a-ke-ka has my hook in her
hand. By her it will be made fast." Hina went down with
the hook until she met Ka-uniho-kahi. She asked him to open his
mouth, then threw the hook far inside and made it fast. Then
she pulled the line so that Maui should know that the fish was
caught. Maui fastened the line to the outrigger of the canoe
and asked his brothers to paddle with all diligence, and not
look back. Long, long, they paddled and were very tired. Then
Maui took a paddle and dipped deep in the sea. The boat moved
more swiftly through the sea. The brothers looked back and cried,
"There is plenty of land behind us." The charm was
broken. The hook came out of "the one toothed," and
the raised islands sank back into their place. The native say,
"The islands are now united to America. Perhaps Maui has
been at work."
MAUI AND PEA-PEA THE EIGHT-EYED.
Maui had been fishing and had caught a great fish upon which
he was feasting. He looked inland and saw his wife, Kumu-lama,
seized and carried away by Pea-pea-maka-walu, "Pea-pea the
eight-eyed." This is a legend derived from the myths of
many islands in which Lupe or Rupe (pigeon) changed himself into
a bird and flew after his sister Hina who had been carried on
the back of a shark to distant islands. Sometimes as a man and
sometimes as a bird he prosecuted his search until Hina was found.
Maui pursued Pea-pea, but could not catch him. He carried
Maui's wife over the sea to a far away island. Maui was greatly
troubled but his grandmother sent him inland to find an old man
who would tell him what to do. Maui went inland and looking down
toward Waipahu saw this man Ku-olo-kele. He was hump-backed.
Maui threw a large stone and hit the "hill on the back"
knocked it off and made the back straight. The old man lifted
up the stone and threw it to Waipahu, where it lies to this day.
Then he and Maui talked together. He told Maui to go and catch
birds and gather ti leaves and fibers of the ie-ie vine, and
fill his house. These things Maui secured and brought to him.
He told Maui to go home and return after three days.
Ku-olo-kele took the ti leaves and the ie-ie threads and made
the body of a great bird which he covered with bird feathers.
He fastened all together with the ie-ie. This was done in the
first day. The second day he placed food inside and tried his
bird and it flew all right. "Thus," as the Hawaiians
say, "the first flying ship was made in the time of Maui."
This is a modern version of Rupe changing himself into a bird.
On the third day Maui came and saw the wonderful bird body
thoroughly prepared for his journey. Maui went inside. Ku-olo-kele
said, "When you reach that land, look for a village. If
the people are not there look to the beach. If there are many
people, your wife and Pea-pea the eight-eyed will be there. Do
not go near, but fly out over the sea. The people will say, 'O,
the strange bird;' but Pea-pea will say, 'This is my bird. It
is tabu.' You can then come to the people."
Maui pulled the ie-ie ropes fastened to the wings and made
them move. Thus he flew away into the sky. Two days was his journey
before he came to that strange island, Moana-liha-i-ka-wao-kele.
It was a beautiful land. He flew inland to a village, but there
were no people; according to the ancient chant:
The people were by the sea. Maui flew over them. He saw his
wife, but he passed on flying out over the sea, skimming like
a sea bird down to the water and rising gracefully up to the
sky. Pea-pea called out, "This is my bird. It is tabu."
Maui heard and came to the beach. He was caught and placed in
a tabu box. The servants carried him, up to the village and put
him in the chief's sleeping house, when Pea-pea and his people
returned to their homes.
In the night Pea-pea and Maui's wife lay down to sleep. Maui
watched Pea-pea, hoping that he would soon sleep. Then he would
kill him. Maui waited. One eye was closed, seven eyes were opened.
Then four eyes closed, leaving three. The night was almost past
and dawn was near. Then Maui called to Hina with his spirit voice,
"O Hina, keep it dark." Hina made the gray dawn dark
in the three eyes and two closed in sleep. The last eye was weary,
and it also slept. Then Maui went out of the bird body and cut
off the head of Pea-pea and put it inside the bird. He broke
the roof of the house until a large opening was made. He took
his wife, Kumu-lama, and flew away to the island of Oahu. The
winds blew hard against the flying bird. Rain fell in torrents
around it, but those inside had no trouble.
"Thus Maui returned with his wife to his home in Oahu.
The story is pau (finished)."
MAUI SEEKING IMMORTALITY.
Climb up, climb up,
To the highest surface of heaven,
To all the sides of heaven.
Climb then to thy ancestor,
The sacred bird in the sky,
To thy ancestor Rehua
-New Zealand kite incantation.
THE story of Maui seeking immortality
for the human race is one of the finest myths in the world. For
pure imagination and pathos it is difficult to find any tale
from Grecian or Latin literature to compare with it. In Greek
and Roman fables gods suffered for other gods, and yet none were
surrounded with such absolutely mythical experiences as those
through which the demi-god Maui of the Pacific Ocean passed when
he entered the gates of death with the hope of winning immortality
for mankind. The really remarkable group of legends which cluster
around Maui is well concluded by the story of his unselfish and
heroic battle with death.
The different islands of the Pacific have their Hades, or
abode of dead. It is, with very few exceptions, down in the interior
of the earth. Sometimes the tunnels left by currents of melted
lava are the passages into the home of departed spirits. In Samoa
there are two circular holes among the rocks at the west end
of the island Savaii. These are the entrances to the under-world
for chiefs and people. The spirits of those who die on the other
islands leap into the sea and swim around the land from island
to island until they reach Savaii. Then they plunge down into
their heaven or their hades.
The Tongans had a spirit island for the horne of the dead.
They said that some natives once sailed far away in a canoe and
found this island. It was covered with all manner of beautiful
fruits, amongwhich rare birds sported. They landed, but the trees
were shadows. They grasped but could not hold them. The fruits
and the birds were shadows. The men ate, but swallowed nothing
substantial. It was shadow-land. They walked through all the
delights their eyes looked upon, but found no substance. They
returned home, but ever seemed to listen to spirits calling them
back to the island. In a short time all the voyagers were dead.
There is no escape from death. The natives of New Zealand
say: "Man may have descendants, but the daughters of the
night strangle his offspring"; and again: "Men make
heroes, but death carries them away."
There are very few legends among the Polynesians concerning
the death of Maui. And these are usually fragmentary, except
among the Maoris of New Zealand.
The Hawaiian legend of the death of Maui is to the effect
that he offended some of the greater gods living in Waipio valley
on the Island of Hawaii. Kanaloa, one of the four greatest gods
of Hawaii, seized him and dashed him against the rocks. His blood
burst from, the body and colored the earth red in the upper part
of the valley. The Hawaiians in another legend say that Maui
was chasing a boy and girl in Honolii gulch, Hawaii. The girl
climbed a breadfruit tree. Maui changed himself into an eel and
stretched himself along the side of the trunk of the tree. The
tree stretched itself upward and Maui failed to reach the girl.
A priest came along and struck the eel and killed it, and so
Maui died. This is evidently a changed form of the legend of
Maui and the long eel. Another Hawaiian fragment approaches very
near to the beautiful New Zealand myth. The Hawaiians said that
Maui attempted to tear a motintain apart. He wrenched a great
hole in the side. Then the elepaio bird sang and the charm was
broken. The cleft in the mountain could not be enlarged. If the
story could be completed it would not be strange if the death
of Maui came with this failure to open the path through the mountain.
The Hervey Islands say that after Maui fished up the islands
his hook was thrown into the heavens and became the curved tail
of the constellation of stars which we know as "The Scorpion."
Then the people became angry with Maui and threw him up into
the sky and his body is still thought to be hanging among the
stars of the scorpion.
The Samoans, according to Turner, say that Maui went fishing
and tried to catch the land under the seas and pull it to the
surface. Finally an island appeared, but the people living on
it were angry with Maui and drove him away into the heavens.
As he leaped from the island it separated into two parts.
Thus the Samoans account for the origin of two of their islands
and also for the passing away of Maui from the earth.
The natives of New Zealand have many myths concerning the
death of Maui. Each tribe tells the story with such variations
as would be expected when the fact is noted that these tribes
have preserved their individuality through many generations.
The substance of the myth, however, is the same.
In Maui's last days he longed for the victory over death.
His innate love of life led him to face the possibility of escaping
and overcoming the relentless enemy of mankind and thus bestow
the boon of deathlessness upon his fellow-men. He had been successful
over and over again in his contests with both gods and men. When
man was created, he stood erect, but, according to an Hawaiian
myth, had jointless arms and limbs. A web of skin connected and
fastened tightly the arms to the body and the legs to each other.
"Maui was angry at this motionless statue and took him and
broke his legs at ankle, knee and hip and then, tearing them
and the arms from the body, destroyed the web. Then he broke
the arms at the elbow and shoulder. Then man could move from
place to place, but he had neither fingers or toes." Here
comes the most ancient Polynesian statement of the theory of
evolution: "Hunger impelled man to seek his food in the
mountains, where his toes were cut out by the brambles in climbing,
and his fingers were also formed by the sharp splinters of the
bamboo while searching with his arms for food in the ground."
It was not strange that Maui should feel self-confident when
considering the struggle for immortality as a gift to be bestowed
upon mankind. And yet his father warned him that his time of
failure would surely come.
White, who has collected many of the myths and legends of
New Zealand, states that after Maui had ill-treated Mahu-ika,
his grandmother, the goddess and guardian of fire in the under-world,
his father and mother tried to teach him to do differently. But
he refused to listen. Then the father said:
"You heard our instructions, but please yourself and
persist for life or death."
Maui replied: "What do I care? Do you think I shall cease?
Rather I will persist forever and ever."
Then his father said: "There is one so powerful that
no tricks can be of any avail."
Maui asked: "By what shall I be overcome?" The answer
was that one of his ancestors, Hine-nui-te-po (Great Hine of
the night), the guardian of life, would overcome him.
When Maui fished islands out of the deep seas, it was said
that Hine made her home on the outer edge of one of the outermost
islands. There the glow of the setting sun lighted the thatch
of her house and covered it with glorious colors. There Great
Hine herself stood flashing and sparkling on the edge of the
Maui, in these last days of his life, looked toward the west
and said: "Let us investigate this matter and learn whether
life or death shall follow."
The father replied: "There is evil hanging over you.
When I chanted the invocation of your childhood, when you were
made sacred and guarded by charms, I forgot a part of the ceremony.
And for this you are to die."
Then Maui said, "Will this be by Hine-nui-te-po? What
is she like?"
The father said that the flashing eyes they could see in the
distance were dark as greenstone, the teeth were as sharp as
volcanic glass, her mouth was large like a fish, and her hair
was floating in the air like sea-weed.
One of the legends of New Zealand says that Maui and his brothers
went toward the west, to the edge of the horizon, where they
saw the goddess of the night. Light was flashing from her body.
Here they found a great pit-the home of night. Maui entered the
pit-telling his brothers not to laugh. He passed through and
turning about started to return. The brothers laughed and the
walls of night closed in around him and held him till he died.
The longer legend tells how Maui after his conversation with
his father, remembered his conflict with the moon. He had tied
her so that she could not escape, but was compelled to bathe
in the waters of life and return night after night lest men should
be in darkness when evening came.
Maui said to the goddess of the moon: "Let death be short.
As the moon dies and returns with strength, so let men die and
But she replied: "Let death be very long, that man may
sigh and sorrow. When man dies, let him go into darkness, become
like earth, that those he leaves behind may weep and wail and
Maui did not lay aside his purpose, but according to the New
Zealand story, "did not wish men to die but to live forever.
Death appeared degrading and an insult to the dignity of man.
Man ought to die like the moon, which dips in the life-giving
waters of Kane and is renewed again, or like the sun, which daily
sinks into the pit of night and with renewed strength rises in
Maui sought the home of Hine-nui-te-po-the guardian of life.
He heard her order her attendants to watch for any one approaching
and capture all who came walking upright as a man. He crept past
the attendants on hands and feet, found the place of life, stole
some of the food of the goddess and returned home. He showed
the food to his brothers and persuaded them to go with him into
the darkness of the night of death. On the way he changed them
into the form of birds. In the evening they came to the house
of the goddess on the island long before fished up from the seas.
Maui warned the birds to refrain from making any noise -while
he made the supreme effort of his life. He was about to enter
upon his struggle for immortality. He said to the birds: "If
I go into the stomach of this woman, do not laugh until I have
gone through her, and come out again at her month; then you can
laugh at me."
His friends said: "You will be killed." Maui replied:
"If you laugh at me when I have only entered her stomach
I shall be killed, but if I have passed through her and come
out of her mouth I shall escape and Hine-nui-te-po will die."
His friends called out to him: "Go then. The decision
is with you."
Hine was sleeping soundly. The flashes of lightning had all
ceased. The sunlight had almost passed away and the house lay
in quiet gloom. Maui came near to the sleeping goddess. Her large,
fish-like mouth was open wide. He put off his clothing and prepared
to pass through the ordeal of going to the hidden source of life,
to tear it out of the body of its guardian and carry it back
with him, to mankind. He stood in all the glory of savage manhood.
His body was splendidly marked by the tattoo-bones, and now well
oiled shone and sparkled in the last rays of the setting sun.
He leaped through the mouth of the enchanted one and entered
her stomach, weapon in band, to take out her heart, the vital
principle which he knew had its home somewhere within her being.
He found immortality on the other side of death. He turned to
come back again into life when suddenly a little bird (the Pata-tai)
laughed in a clear, shrill tone, and Great Hine, through whose
mouth Maui was passing, awoke. Her sharp, obsidian teeth closed
with a snap upon Maui, cutting his body in the center. Thus Maui
entered the gates of death, but was unable to return, and death
has ever since been victor over rebellious men. The natives have
"If Maui had not died, he could have restored to life
all who had gone before him, and thus succeeded in destroying
Maui's brothers took the dismembered body and buried it in
a cave called Te-ana-i-hana, "The cave dug out," possibly
a prepared burial place.
Maui's wife made war upon the spirits, the gods, and killed
as many as she could to avenge her husband's death. One of the
old native poets of New Zealand, in chanting the story to Mr.
White, said: "But though Maui was killed, his offspring
survived. Some of these are at Hawa-i-i-ki and some at Aotearoa
(New Zealand), but the greater part of them remained at Hawa-i-ki.
This history was handed down by the generations of our ancestors
of ancient times, and we continue to rehearse it to our children,
with our incantations and genealogies, and all other matters
relating to our race."
"But death is nothing new,
Death is, and has been ever since old Maui died.
Then Pata-tai laughed loud
And woke the goblin-god,
Who severed him in two, and shut him in,
So dusk of eve came on."
HINA OF HILO.
HINA is not an uncommon name in Hawaiian
genealogies. It is usually accompanied by some adjective which
explains or identifies the person to whom the name is given.
In Hawaii the name Hina is feminine. This is also true throughout
all Polynesia except in a few cases where Hina is reckoned as
a man with supernatural attributes. Even in these cases it is
apparent that the legend has been changed from its original form
as it has been carried to small islands by comparatively ignorant
people when moving away from their former homes.
Hina is a Polynesian goddess whose story is very interesting-one
worthy of study when comparing the legends of the island groups
of the Pacific. The Hina of Hilo is the same as the goddess of
that name most widely known throughout Polynesia-and yet her
legends are located by the ancient Hawaiians in Hilo, as if that
place were her only home. The legends are so old that the Hawaiians
have forgotten their origin in other lands. The stories were
brought with the immigrants who settled on the Hilo coast. Thus
the stories found their final location with the families who
brought them. There are three Hawaiian Hinas practically distinct
from each other, although a supernatural element is connected
with each one. Hina who was stolen from Hawaii by a chief of
the Island of Molokai was an historical character, although surrounded
by mythical stories. Another Hina, who was the wife of Kuula,
the fish god, was pre-eminently a local deity, having no real
connection with the legends of the other islands of the Pacific,
athough sometimes the stories told concerning her have not been
kept entirely distinct from the legends of the Hina of Hilo.
The Hilo Hina was the true legendary character closely connected
with all Polynesia. The stories about her are of value not simply
as legends, but as traditions closely uniting the Hawaiian Islands
with the island groups thousands of miles distant. The Wailuku
river, which flows through the town of Hilo, has its own peculiar
and weird beauty. For miles it is a series of waterfalls and
rapids. It follows the course of an ancient lava flow, sometimes
forcing its way under bridges of lava, thus forming what are
called boiling pots, and sometimes pouring in massive sheets
over the edges of precipices which never disintegrate. By the
side of this river Hina's son,Maui had his lands. In the very
bed of the river, in a cave under one of the largest falls, Hina
made her own home, concealed from the world by the silver veil
of falling water and lulled to sleep by the continual roar of
the flood falling into the deep pool below. By the side of this
river, the legends say, she pounded her tapa and prepared her
food. Here were the small, graceful mamake and the coarser wauke
trees, from which the bark was stripped with which she made tapa
cloth. Branches were cut or broken from these and other trees
whose bark was fit for the purpose. These branches were well
soaked until the bark was removed easily. Then the outer bark
was scraped off, leaving only the pliable inner bark. The days
were very short and there was no time for rest while making tapa
cloth. Therefore, as soon as the morning light reddened the clouds,
Hina would take her calabash filled with water to pour upon the
bark, and her little bundle of round clubs (the hohoa) and her
four-sided mallets (the i-e-kuku) and hasten to the sacred spot
where, with chants and incantations, the tapa was made.
The bark was well soaked in the water all the days of the
process of tapa making. Hina took small bundles of the wet inner
bark and laid them on the kua or heavy tapa board, pounding them
together into a pulpy mass with her round clubs. Then using the
four-sided mallets, she beat this pulp into thin sheets. Beautiful
tapa, soft as silk, was made by adding pulpy mass to pulpy mass
and beating it day after day until the fibres were lost and a
sheet of close-woven bark cloth was formed. Although Hina was
a goddess and had a family possessing miraculous power, it never
entered the mind of the Hawaiian legend tellers to endow her
with case in producing wonderful results. The legends of the
Southern Pacific Islands show more imagination. They say that
Ina (Hina) was such a wonderful artist in making beautiful tapas
that she was placed in the skies, where she beat out glistening
fine tapas, the white and glorious clouds. When she stretches
these clouds sheets out to dry, she places stones along the edges,
so that the fierce winds of the heavens shall not blow them away.
When she throws these stones aside, the skies reverberate with
thunder. When she rolls her cloud sheets of tapa together, the
folds glisten with flashes of light and lightning leaps from
sheet to sheet.
The Hina of Hilo was grieved as she toiled because after she
had pounded the sheets out so thin that they were ready to be
dried, she found it almost impossible to secure the necessary
aid of the sun in the drying process. She would rise as soon
as she could see and hasten to spread out the tapa made the day
before. But the sun always hurried so fast that the sheets could
not dry. He leaped from the ocean waters in the earth, rushed
across the heavens and plunged into the dark waters again on
the other side of the island before she could even turn her tapas
so that they might dry evenly. This legend of very short days
is strange because of its place not only among the myths of Hawaii
but also because it belongs to practically all the tropical islands
of the Pacific Ocean. In Tahiti the legends said that the sun
rushed across the sky very rapidly. The days were too short for
fruits to ripen or for work to be finished. In Samoa the "mats"
made by Sina had no time to dry. The ancestors of the Polynesians
sometime somewhere must have been in the region of short days
and long nights. Hina found that her incantations had no influence
with the sun. She could not prevail upon him to go slower and
give her more time for the completion of her task. Then she called
on her powerful son, Maui-ki-i-ki-i, for aid.
Some of the legends of the Island Maui say that Hina dwelt
by the sea coast of that island near the high hill Kauwiki at
the foot of the great mountain Haleakala, House of the Sun, and
that there, facing the southern skies under the most favorable
conditions for making tapa, she found the days too short for
the tapa to dry. At the present time the Hawaiians point out
a Iong, narrow stone not far from the surf and almost below the
caves in which the great queen Kaahumanu spent the earliest days
of her childhood.
This stone is said to be the kua or tapa board on which Hina
pounded the bark for her cloth. Other legends of that same island
locate Hina's home on the northeast coast near Pohakuloa.
The Hilo legends, however, do not deem it necessary that Hina
and Maui should have their home across the wide channel which
divides the Island Hawaii from the Island Maui in order to wage
war successfully with the inconsiderate sun. Hina remained in
her home by the Wailuku river, sometimes resting in her cave
under Rainbow Falls, and sometimes working on the river bank,
trusting her powerful son Maui to make the swiftly-passing lord
of day go more slowly.
Maui possessed many supernatural powers. He could assume the
form of birds or insects. He could call on the winds to do his
will, or he could, if he wished, traverse miles with a single
stride. It is interesting to note that the Hilo legends differ
as to the way in which Ma-ui the man passed over to Mau-i the
island. One legend says that he crossed the channel, miles wide,
with a single step. Another says that he launched his canoe and
with a breath the god of the winds placed him on the opposite
coast, while another story says that Maui assumed the form of
a white chicken, which flew over the waters to Haleakala. Here
he took ropes made from the fibre of trees and vines and lassoed
the sun while it climbed the side of the mountain and entered
the great crater which hollows out the summit. The sun came through
a large gap in the eastern side of the crater, rushing along
as rapidly as possible. Then Maui threw his lassoes one after
the other over the sun's legs (the rays of light), holding him
fast and breaking off some of them. With a magic club Maui struck
the face of the sun again and again. At last, wounded andweary,
and also limping on its broken legs, the sun promised Maui to
go slowly forevermore.
"La" among the Polynesians, like the word "Ra"
among the Egyptians, means "sun" or "day"
or "sungod"-and the mountain where the son of Hina
won his victory over the monster of the heavens has long borne
the name Hale-a-ka-la, or House of the Sun.
Hina of Hilo soon realized the wonderful cleed which Maui
had done. She spread out her fine tapas with songs of joy and
cheerily performed the task which filled the hours of the day.
The comfort of sunshine and cooling winds came with great power
into Hina's life, bringing to her renewed joy and beauty.
HINA AND THE WAILUKU RIVER.
HERE are two rivers of rushing, tumbling
rapids and waterfalls in the Hawaiian Islands, both bearing the
name of Wailuku. One is on the Island of Maui, flowing out of
a deep gorge in the side of the extinct volcano Iao. Yosemite-like
precipices surround this majestically-walled crater. The name
lao means "asking for clouds." The head of the crater-valley
is almost always covered with great masses of heavy rain clouds.
Out of the crater the massed waters rush in a swift-flowing stream,
of only four or five miles, emptying into Kahului harbor. The
other Wailuku river is on the Island of Hawaii. The snows melt
on the summits of the two great mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna
Loa. The water seeps through the porous lava from the eastern
slope of Mauna Loa and the southern slope of Mauna Kea, meeting
where the lava flows of centuries from each mountain have piled
up against each other. Through the fragments of these volcanic
battles the waters creep down the mountain side toward the sea.
At one place, a number of miles above the city of Hilo, the
waters were heard gurgling and splashing far below the surface.
Water was needed for the sugar plantations, which modern energy
has established all along the eastern coast of the large island.
A tunnel was cut into the lava, the underground stream was tapped-and
an abundant supply of water secured and sluiced down to the large
plantations below. The head waters of the Wailuku river gathered
frorn the melting snow of the mountains found these channels,
which centered at last in the bed of a very ancient and very
interesting lava flow. Sometimes breaking forth in a large, turbulent
flood, the stream forces its way over and around the huge blocks
of lava which mark the course of the eruption of long ago. Sometimes
it courses in a tunnel left by the flowing lava and comes up
from below in a series of boiling pools. Then again it falls
in majestic sheets over high walls of worn precipices. Several
large falls and some very picturesque smaller cascades interspersed
with rapids and natural bridges give to, this river a beauty
peculiarly its own. The most weird of all the rough places through
which the Walluku river flows is that known as the basin of Rainbow
Falls near Hilo. Here Hina, the moon goddess of the Polynesians,
lived in a great open cave, over which the falls hung their misty,
rainbow-tinted veil. Her son Maui, the mighty demi-god of Polynesia,
supposed by some writers to be the sun-god of the Polynesians,
had extensive lands along the northern bank of the river. Here
among his cultivated fields he had his home, from which he went
forth to accomplish the wonders attributed to him in the legends
of the Hawaiians.
Below the cave in which Hina dwelt the river fought its way
through a narrow gorge and then, in a series of many sinall falls,
descended to the little bay, where its waters mingled with the
surf of the salt sea. Far above the cave, in the bed of the river,
dwelt Kuna. The district through which that portion of the river
runs bears to this day the name "Wai-kuna" or "Kuna's
river." When the writer was talking with the natives concerning
this part of the old legend, they said "Kuna is not a Hawaiian
word. It means something like a snake or a dragon, something
we do not have in these islands." This, they thought, made
the connection with the Hina legend valueless until they were
shown that Tuna (or kuna) was the New Zealand name of a reptile
which attacked Hina and struck her with his tail like a crocodile,
for which Maui killed him. When this was understood, the Hawaiians
were greatly interested to give the remainder of this legend
and compare it with the New Zealand story. In New Zealand there
are several statements concerning Tuna's dwelling place. He is
sometimes represented as coming from a pool to attack Hina and
sometimes from a distant stream, and sometimes from the river
by which Hina dwelt. The Hawaiians told of the annoyances which
Hina endured from Kuna while he lived above her home in the Wailuku.
He would stop,up the river and fill it with dirt as when the
freshets brought down the debris of the storms from the mountain
sides. He would throw logs and rolling stones into the stream
that they might be carried over the falls and drive Hina from
her cave. He had sought Hina in many ways and had been repulsed
again and again until at last hatred took the place of all more
kindly feelings and he determined to destroy the divine chiefess.
Hina was frequently left with but little protection, and yet
from her home in the cave feared nothing that Kuna could do.
Precipices guarded the cave on either side, and any approach
of an enemy through the falling water could be easily thwarted.
So her chants rang out through the river valley even while floods
swirled around her, and Kuna's missiles were falling over the
rocky bed of the stream toward her. Kuna became very angry and,
tittering great curses and calling upon all his magic forces
to aid him, caught a great stone and at night hurled it into
the gorge of the river below Hina's home, filling the river bed
from bank to bank. "Ah, Hina! Now is the danger, for the
river rises. The water cannot flow away. Awake! Awake!"
Hina is not aware of this evil which is so near. The water
rises and rises, higher and higher. "Auwe! Auwe! Alas, alas,
Hina must perish!" The water entered the opening of the
cave and began to creep along the floor. Hina cannot fly, except
into the very arms of her great enemy, who is waiting to destroy
her. Then Hina called for Maui. Again and again her voice went
out from the cave. It pierced through the storms and the clouds
which attended Kuna's attack upon her. It swept along the side
of the great mountain. It crossed the channel between the islands
of Hawaii and Maui. Its anguish smote the side of the great mountain
Haleakala, where Maui had been throwing his lassoes around the
sun and compelling him, to go more slowly. When Maui heard Hina's
cry for help echoing from cliff to cliff and through the ravines,
he leaped at once to rush to her assistance.
Some say that Hina, the goddess, had a cloud servant, the
"ao-opua," the "warning cloud," which rose
swiftly above the falls when Hina cried for aid and then, assuming
a peculiar shape, stood high above the hills that Maui might
see it. Down the mountain he leaped to his magic canoe. Pushing
it into the sea with two mighty strokes of his paddle lie crossed
the sea to the mouth of the Wailuku river. Here even to the present
day lies a long double rock, surrounded by the waters of the
bay, which the natives call Ka waa o Maui, "The canoe of
Maui." It represents to Hawaiian thought the magic canoe
with which Maui always sailed over the ocean more swiftly than
any winds could carry him. Leaving his canoe, Maui seized the
magic club with which he had conquered the sun after lassoing
him, and rushed along the dry bed of the river to the place of
danger. Swinging the club swiftly around his head, lie struck
the dam holding back the water of the rapidly-rising river.
"Ah! Nothing can withstand the magic club. The bank around
one end of the dam gives way. The imprisoned waters leap into
the new channel. Safe is Hina the goddess."
Kuna heard the crash of the club against the stones of the
river bank and fled up the river to his home in the hidden caves
by the pools in the river bed. Maui rushed up the river to punish
Kuna-mo-o for the trouble he had caused Hina. When he came to
the place where the dragon was hidden under deep waters, he took
his magic spear and thrust it through the dirt and lava rocks
along one side of the river, makin- a long hole, through which
the waters rushed, revealing Kuna-mo-o's hiding place. This place
of the spear thrust is known among the Hawaiians as Ka puka a
Maui, "the door made by Maui." It is also known as
"The natural bridge of the Wailuku river."
Kuna-mo-o fled to his different hiding places, but Maui broke
up the river bed and drove the dragon out from every one, following
him from place to place as he fled down the river. Apparently
this is a legendary account of earthquakes. At last Kuna-mo-o
found what seemed to be a safe hiding place in a series of deep
pools, but Maui poured a lava flow into the river. He threw red-hot
burning stones into the water until the pools were boiling and
the steam was rising in clouds. Kuna uttered incantation after
incantation, but the water scalded and burned him. Dragon as
he was, his hard, tough skin was of no avail. The pain was becoming
unbearable. With cries to his gods he leaped from the pools and
fled down the river. The waters of the pools are no longer scalding,
but they have never lost the tumbling, tossing, foaming, boiling
swirl which Maui gave to them when he threw into them the red-hot
stones with which he hoped to destroy Kuna, and they are known
today as "The Boiling Pots."
Some versions of the legend say that Maui poured boiling water
in the river and sent it in swift pursuit of Kuna, driving him
froin point to point and scalding his life out of him. Others
say that Maui chased the dragon, striking him again and again
with his consecrated weapons, following Kuna down from falls
to falls until he came to the place where Hina dwelt. Then, feeling
that there was little use in flight, Kuna battled with Maui.
His struggles were of no avail. He was forced over the falls
into the stream below. Hina and her women encouraged Maui by
their chants and strengthened him by the most powerful incantations
with which they were acquainted. Great was their joy when they
beheld Kuna's ponderous body hurled over the falls. Eagerly they
watched the dragon as the swift waters swept him against the
dam with which he had hoped to destroy Hina; and when the whirling
waves caught him and dashed him through the new channel made
by Maui's magic club, they rejoiced and sang the praise of the
mighty warrior who had saved them. Maui had rushed along the
bank of the river with tremendous strides overtaking the dragon
as he was rolled over and over among the small waterfalls near
the mouth of the river. Here Matii again attacked Kuna, at last
beating the life out of his body. "Moo-Kuna" was the
name given by the Hawaiians to the dragon. "Moo" means
anything in lizard shape, but Kuna was unlike any lizard known
in the Hawaiian Islands. Moo Kuna is the name sometimes given
to a long black stone lying like an island in the waters between
the small falls of the river. As one who calls attention to this
legendary black stone says: "As if he were not dead enough
already, every big freshet in the stream beats him and pounds
him and drowns him over and over as he would have drowned Hina."
A New Zealand legend relates a conflict of incantations, somewhat
like the filling in of the Wailuku river by Kuna, and the cleaving
of a new channel by Maui with the different use of means. In
New Zealand the river is closed by the use of powerful incantations
and charms and reopened by the use of those more powerful.
In the Hervey Islands, Tuna, the god of eels, loved Ina (Hina)
and finally died for her, giving his head to be buried. From,
this head sprang two cocoanut trees, bearing fruit marked with
Tuna's eyes and mouth.
In Samoa the battle was between an owl and a serpent. The
owl conquered by calling in the aid of a friend.
This story of Hina apparently goes far back in the traditions
of Polynesians, even to their ancient home in Hawaiki, from which
it was taken by one branch of the family to New Zealand and by
another to the Hawaiian Islands and other groups in the Pacific
Ocean. The dragon may even be a remembrance of the days when
the Polynesians were supposed to dwell by the banks of the River
Ganges in India, when crocodiles were dangerous enemies and heroes
saved families from their destructive depredations.
GHOSTS OF THE HILO HILLS.
THE legends about Hina and her famous
son Maui and her less widely known daughters are common property
among the natives of the beautiful little city of Hilo. One of
these legends of more than ordinary interest finds its location
in the three small hills back of Hilo toward the mountains.
These hills are small craters connected with some ancient
lava flow of unusual violence. The eruption must have started
far up on the slopes of Mauna Loa. As it sped down toward the
sea it met some obstruction which, although overwhelmed, checked
the flow and caused a great mass of cinders and ashes to be thrown
out until a large hill with a hollow crater was built up, covering
many acres of ground.
Soon the lava found another vent and then another obstruction
and a second and then a third hill were formed nearer the sea.
These hills or extinct craters bear the names Halai, Opeapea
and Puu Honu. They are not far from the Wailuku river, famous
for its picturesque waterfalls and also for the legends which
are told along its banks. Here Maui had his lands overlooking
the steep bluffs. Here in a cave under the Rainbow Falls was
the home of Hina, the mother of Maui, according to the Hawaiian
stories. Other parts of the Pacific sometimes make Hina Maui's
wife, and sometimes a goddess from whom he descended. In the
South Sea legends Hina was thought to have married the moon.
Her home was in the skies, where she wove beautiful tapa cloths
(the clouds), which were bright and glistening, so that when
she rolled them up flashes of light (cloud lightning) could be
seen on the earth. She laid heavy stones on the corners of these
tapas, but sometimes the stones rolled off and made the thunder.
Hina of the Rainbow Falls was a famous tapa maker whose tapa
was the cause of Maui's conflict with the sun.
Hina had several daughters, four of whose names are given:
Hina Ke Ahi, Hina Ke Kai, Hina Mahuia, and Hina Kuluua. Each
name marked the peculiar "mana" or divine gift which
Hina, the mother, had bestowed upon her daughters.
Hina Ke Ahi meant the Hina who had control of fire. This name
is sometimes given to Hina the mother. Hina Ke Kai was the daughter
who had power over the sea. She was said to have been in a canoe
with her brother Maui when he fished up Cocoanut Island, his
line breaking before he could pull it up to the mainland and
make it fast. Hina Kuluua was the mistress over the forces of
rain. The winds and the storms were supposed to obey her will.
Hina Mahuia is pectiliarly a name connected with the legends
of the other island groups of the Pacific. Mahuia or Mafuie was
a god or goddess of fire all through Polynesia.
The legend of the Hilo hills pertains especially to Hina Ke
Ahi and Hina Kuluua. Hina the mother gave the hill Halai to Hina
Ke Ahi and the hill Puu Honu to Hina Kuluua for their families
The hills were of rich soil and there was much rain. Therefore,
for a long time, the two daughters had plenty of food for themselves
and their people, but at last the days were like fire and the
sky had no rain in it. The taro planted on the hillsides died.
The bananas and sugar cane and sweet potatoes withered and the
fruit on the trees was blasted. The people were faint becauseof
hunger, and the shadow of death was over the land. Hina Ke Ahi
pitied her suffering friends and determined to provide food for
them. Slowly her people labored at her command. Over they went
to the banks of the river course, which was only the bed of an
ancient lava stream, over which no water was flowing; the famished
laborers toiled, gathering and carrying back whatever wood they
could find, then up the mountain side to the great koa and ohia
forests, gathering their burdens of fuel according to the wishes
of their chiefess.
Their sorcerers planted charms along the way and uttered incantations
to ward off the danger of failure. The priests offered sacrifices
and prayers for the safe and successful return of the burden-bearers.
After many days the great quantity of wood desired by the goddess
was piled up by the side of the Halai Hill.
Then came the days of digging out the hill and making a great
imu or cooking oven and preparing it with stones and wood. Large
quantities of wood were thrown into the place. Stones best fitted
for retaining heat were gathered and the fires kindled. When
the stones were hot, Hina Ke Ahi directed the people to arrange
the imu. in its proper order for cooking the materials for a
great feast. A place was made for sweet potatoes, another for
taro, another for pigs and another for dogs. All the form of
preparing the food for cooking was passed through, but no real
food was laid on the stones. Then Hina told them to make a place
in the imu for a human sacrifice. Probably out of every imu of
the long ago a small part of the food was offered to the gods,
and there may have been a special place in the imu for that part
of the food to be cooked. At any rate Hina had this oven so built
that the people understood that a remarkable sacrifice would
be offered in it to the gods, who for some reason had sent the
famine upon the people.
Human sacrifices were frequently offered by the Hawaiians
even after the days of the coming of Captain Cook. A dead body
was supposed to be acceptable to the gods when a chief's house
was built, when a chief's new canoe was to be made or when temple
walls were to be erected or victories celebrated. The bodies
of the people belonged to the will of the chief. Therefore it
was in quiet despair that the workmen obeyed Hina Ke Ahi and
prepared the place for sacrifice. It might mean their own holocaust
as an offering to the gods. At last Hina Ke Ahi bade the laborers
cease their work and stand by the side of the oven ready to cover
it with the dirt which had been thrown out and piled up by the
side. The people stood by, not knowing upon whom, the blow might
But Hina Ke Ahi was "Hina the kind," and although
she stood before them robed in royal majesty and power, still
her face was full of pity and love. Her voice melted the hearts
of her retainers as she bade them carefully follow her directions.
"O my people. Where are you? Will you obey and do as
I command? This imu is my imu. I shall lie down on its bed of
burning stones. I shall sleep under its cover. But deeply cover
ine or I may perish. Quickly throw the dirt over in), body. Fear
not the fire. Watch for three days. A woman will stand by the
imu. Obey her will."
Hina Ke Ahi was very beautiful, and her eyes flashed light
like fire as she stepped into the great pit and lay down on the
burning stones. A great smoke arose and gathered over the imu.
The men toiled rapidly, placing the imu mats over their chiefess
and throwing the dirt back into the oven until it was all thoroughly
covered and the smoke was quenched.
Then they waited for the strange, mysterious thing which must
follow the sacrifice of this divine chiefess.
Halai hill trembled and earthquakes shook the land round about.
The great heat of the fire in the imu withered the little life
which was still left from the famine. Meanwhile Hina Ke Ahi was
carrying out her plan for securing aid for her people. She could
not be injured by the heat for she was a goddess of fire. The
waves of heat raged around her as she sank down through the stones
of the imu into the underground paths which belonged to the spirit
world. The legend says that Hina made her appearance in the form
of a gushing stream of water which would always supply the want
of her adherents. The second day passed. Hina was still journeying
underground, but this time she came to the surface as a pool
named Moe Waa (canoe sleep) much nearer the sea. The third day
came and Hina caused a great spring of sweet water to burst forth
from the sea shore in the very path of the ocean surf. This received
the name Auauwai. Here Hina washed away all traces of her journey
through the depths. This was the last of the series of earthquakes
and the appearance of new water springs. The people waited, feeling
that some more wonderful event must follow the remarkable experiences
of the three days. Soon a woman stood by the imu, who commanded
the laborers to dig away the dirt and remove the mats. When this
was done, the hungry people found a very great abundance of food,
enough to supply their want until the food plants should have
time to ripen and the days of the famine should be over.
The joy of the people was great when they knew that their
chiefess had escaped death and would still dwell among them in
comfort. Many were the songs sung and stories told about the
great famine and the success of the goddess of fire.
The second sister, Hina Kuluua, the goddess of rain, was always
very jealous of her beautiful sister Hina Ke Ahi, and many times
sent rain to put out fires which her sister tried to kindle.
Hina Ke Ahi could not stand the rain and so fled with her people
to a home by the seaside.
Hina Kuluua (or Hina Kuliua as she was sometimes known among
the Hawaiians) could control rain and storms, but for some reason
failed to provide a food supply for her people, and the famine
wrought havoc among them. She thought of the stories told and
songs sung about her sister and wished for the same honor for
herself. She commanded her people to make a great imu for her
in the hill Pun Honu. She knew that a strange power belonged
to her and yet, blinded by jealousy, forgot that rain and fire
could not work together. She planned to furnish a great supply
of food for her people in the same way in which her sister had
The oven was dug. Stones and wood were collected and the same
ghostly array of potatoes, taro, pig and dog prepared as had
been done before by her sister.
The kahunas or priests knew'that Hina Kuluua was going out
of her province in trying to do as her sister had done, but there
was no use in attempting to change her plans. jealousy is self-willed
and obstinate and no amount of reasoning from her dependents
could have any influence over her.
The ordinary incantations were observed, and Hina Kulutia
gave the same directions as those her sister had given. The imu
was to be well heated. The make-believe food was to be put in
and a place left for her body. It was the goddess of rain making
ready to lie down on a bed prepared for the goddess of fire.
When all was ready, she lay down on the heated stones and the
oven mats were thrown over her and the ghostly provisions. Then
the covering of dirt was thrown back upon the mats and heated
stones, filling the pit which had been dug. The goddess of rain
was left to prepare a feast for her people as the goddess of
fire had done for herfollowers.
Some of the legends have introduced the demi-god Maui into
this story. The natives say that Maui came to "burn"
or "cook the rain" and that he made the oven very hot,
but that the goddess of rain escaped and hung over the hill in
the form of a cloud. At least this is what the people saw-not
a cloud of smoke over the imu, but a rain cloud. They waited
and watched for such evidences of underground labor as attended
the passage of Hina Ke Ahi through the earth from the hill to
the sea, but the only strange appearance was the dark rain cloud.
They waited three days and looked for their chiefess to come
in the form of a woman. They waited another day and still another
and no signs or wonders were rnanifest. Meanwhile Maui, changing
himself into a white bird, flew up into the sky to catch the
ghost of the goddess of rain which had escaped from the burning
oven. Having caught this spirit, he rolled it in some kapa cloth
which lie kept for food to be placed in an oven and carried it
to a place in the forest on the mountain side where again the
attempt was made to "burn the rain," but a great drop
escaped and sped upward into the sky. Again Maui can ht the ghost
of the goddess and carried it to a pali or precipice below the
great volcano Kilauea, where he again tried to destroy it in
the heat of a great lava oven, but this time the spirit escaped
and found a safe refuge among kukui trees on the mountain side,
from which she sometimes rises in clouds which the natives say
are the sure sign of rain.
Whether this Maui legend has any real connection with the
two Hinas and the famine we do not surely know. The legend ordinarily
told among the Hawaiians says that after five days had passed
the retainers decided on their own responsibility to open the
imu. No woman had appeared to give them directions. Nothing but
a mysterious rain cloud over the hill. In doubt and fear, the
dirt was thrown off and the mats removed. Nothing was found but
the ashes of Hina Kuluua. There was no food for her followers
and the goddess had lost all power of appearing as a chiefess.
Her bitter and thoughtless jealousy brought destruction upon
herself and her people. The ghosts of Hina Ke Ahi and Hina Kuluua
sometimes draw near to the old hills in the form of the fire
of flowing lava or clouds of rain while the old men and women
tell the story of the Hinas, the sisters of Maui, who were laid
upon the burning stones of the imus of a famine.
HINA, THE WOMAN IN THE MOON.
THE Wailuku river has by its banks
far up the mountain side some of the most ancient of the various
interesting picture rocks of the Hawaiian Islands. The origin
of the Hawaiian picture writing is a problem still unsolved,
but the picture rocks of the Wailuku river are called "na
kii o Maui," "the Maui pictures." Their antiquity
is beyond question.
The most prominent figure cut in these rocks is that of the
crescent moon. The Hawaiian legends do not attempt any direct
explanation of the meaning of this picture writing. The traditions
of the Polynesians both concerning Hina and Matti look to Hina
as the moon goddess of their ancestors, and in some measure the
Hawaiian stories confirm the traditions of the other island groups
of the Pacific.
Fornander, in his history of the Polynesian race, gives the
Hawaiian story of Hina's ascent to the moon, but applies it to
a Hina the wife of a chief called Aikanaka rather than to the
Hina of Hilo, the wife of Akalana, the father of Maui. However,
Fornander evidently found some difficulty in determining the
status of the one to whom he refers the legend, for he calls
her "the mysterious wife of Aikanaka." In some of the
Hawaiian legends Hina, the mother of Maui, lived on the southeast
coast of the Island Maui at the foot of a hill famous in Hawaiian
story as Kauiki. Fornander says that this "mysterious wife"
of Aikanaka bore her children Puna and Huna, the latter a noted
sea-rover among the Polynesians, at the foot of this hill Kauiki.
It can very easily be supposed that a legend of the Ilina connected
with the demi-god Maui might be given during the course of centuries
to the other Hina, the mother of Huna. The application of the
legend would make no difference to anyone were it not for the
fact that the story of Hina and her ascent to the moon has been
handed down in different forms among the traditions of Samoa,
New Zealand, Tonga, Hervey Islands, Fate Islands, Nauru and other
Pacific island groups. The Polynesian name of the moon, Mahina
or Masina, is derived from Hina, the goddess mother of Matii.
It is even possible to trace the name back to "Sin,"
the moon god of the Assyrians.
The moon goddess of Ponape was Ina-inaram. (Hawaiian Hina-malamalama),
"Hina giving light."
In the Paumotan Islands an eclipse of the sun is called Higa-higa-hana
(Hina-hiua-hana), "The act (hana) of Hina-the moon."
In New Zealand moonless nights were called "Dark Hina."
In Tahiti it is said there was war among the gods. They cursed
the stars. Hina saved them, although they lost a little light.
Then they cursed the sea, but Hina preserved the tides. They
cursed the rivers, but Hina saved the springs-the moving waters
inland, like the tides in the ocean.
The Hawaiians say that Hina and her maidens pounded out the
softest, finest kapa cloth on the long, thick kapa board at the
foot of Kauiki. Incessantly the restless sea dashed its spray
over the picturesque groups of splintered lava rocks which form
the Kauiki headland. Here above the reach of the surf still lies
the long, black stone into which the legends say Hina's kapa
board was changed. Here Hina took the leaves of the hala tree
and, after the manner of the Hawaiian women of the ages past,
braided in,ats for the household to sleep upon, and from the
nuts of the kukui trees fashioned the torches which were burned
around the homes of those of high chief rank.
At last she became weary of her work among mortals. Her family
had become more and more troublesome. It was said that her sons
were unruly and her husband lazy and shiftless. She looked into
the heavens and determined to flee up the pathway of her rainbow
through the clouds.
The Sun was very bright and Hina said, "I will go to
the Sun." So she left her home very early in the morning
and climbed up, higher, higher, until the heat of the rays of
the sun beat strongly upon her and weakened her so that she could
scarcely crawl along her beautiful path. Up a little higher and
the clouds no longer gave her even the least shadow. The heat
from the sun was so great that she began to feel the fire shriveling
and torturing her. Quickly she slipped down into the storms around
her rainbow and then back to earth. As the day passed her strength
came back, and when the full moon rose through the shadows of
the night she said, "I will climb to the moon and there
But when Hina began to go upward her husband saw her and called
to her: "Do not go into the heavens." She answered
him: `My mind is fixed; I will go to my new husband, the moon."
And she climbed up higher and higher. Her husband ran toward
her. She was almost out of reach, but he leaped and caught her
foot. This did not deter Hina from her purpose. She shook off
her husband, but as he fell he broke her leg so that the lower
part came off in his hands. Hina went up through the stars, crying
out the strongest incantations she could use. The powers of the
night aided her. The mysterious hands of darkness lifted her,
until she stood at the door of the moon. She had packed her calabash
with her most priceless possessions and had carried it with her
even when injured by her cruel husband. With her calabash she
limped into the moon and found her abiding home. When the moon
is full, the Hawaiians of the long ago, aye and even today, look
into the quiet, silvery light and see the goddess in her celestial
home, her calabash by her side.
The natives call her now Lono-moku, "the crippled Lono."
From this watch tower in the heavens she pointed out to Kahai,
one of her descendents, the way to rise up into the skies. The
ancient chant thus describes his ascent:
Thus under the care of his ancestress Hina, Kahai, the great
sea-rover, made his ascent in quest of adventures among the immortals.
In the Tongan Islands the legends say that Hina remains in
the moon watching over the "fire-walkers" as their
great protecting goddess.
The Hervey Island traditions say that the Moon (Marama) had
often seen Hina and admired her, and at last had come down and
caught her up to live with himself. The moonlight in its glory
is called Inamotea, "the brightness of Ina."
The story as told on Atiu Island (one of the Society group)
is that Hina took her human husband with her to the moon, where
they dwelt happily for a time, but as he grew old she prepared
a rainbow, down which he descended to the earth to die, leaving
Hina forevermore as "the woman in the moon." The Savage
Islanders worshiped the spirits of their ancestors, saying that
many of them went up to the land of Sina, the always bright land
in the skies. To the natives of Niue Island, Hina has been the
goddess ruling over all tapa making. They say that her home is
"Motu a Hina," "the island of Hina," the
home of the dead in the skies.
The Samoans said that the Moon received Hina and a child,
and also her tapa board and mallet and material for the manufacture
of tapa cloth. Therefore, when the moon is shining in full splendor,
they shade their eyes and look for the goddess and the tools
with which she fashions the tapa clouds in the heavens.
The New Zealand legend says that the woman went after water
in the night. As she passed down the path to the spring the bright
light of the full moon made the way easy for her quick footsteps,
but when she had filled her calabash and started homeward, suddenly
the bright light was hidden by a passing cloud and she stumbled
against a stone in the path and fell to the ground, spilling
the water she was carrying. Then she became very angry and cursed
the moon heartily. Then the moon became angry and swiftly swept
down upon her from the skies, grasping her and lifting her up.
In her terrible fight she caught a small tree with one hand and
her calabash with the other. But oh! the strong moon pulled her
up with the tree and the calabash and there in the full m,oon
they can all be traced when the nights are clear.
Pleasant or Nauru Island, in which a missionary from Central
Union Church, Honolulu, is laboring, tells the story of Gigu,
a beautiful young woman, who has many of the experiences of Hina.
She opened the eyes of the Mother of the Moon as Hina, in some
of the Polynesian legends, is represented to have opened the
eyes of one of the great goddesses, and in reward is married
to Maraman, the Moon, with whom she lives ever after, and in
whose embrace she can always be seen when the moon is full. Gigu
is Hina under another and more guttural form of speech. Maraman
is the same as Malama, one of the Polynesian names for the moon.