Polynesian Mythology and Ancient Traditional History of the New Zealand Race
The Legend of Maui
The Legend of Maui.
One day Maui asked his brothers to tell him the place where their father and mother dwelt; he begged earnestly that they would make this known to him in order that he might go and visit the place where the two old people dwelt; and they replied to him, “We don't know; how can we tell whether they dwell up above the earth, or down under the earth, or at a distance from us.” Then he answered them, “Never mind, I think I'll find them out;” and his brothers replied, “Nonsense, how can you tell where they are—you, the last born of all of us, when we your elders have no knowledge where they are concealed from us; after you first appeared to us, and made yourself known to us and to our mother as our brother, you know that our mother used to come and sleep with us every night, and as soon as the day broke she was gone, and, lo, there was nobody but ourselves sleeping in the house, and this took place night after night, and how can we tell then where she went or where she lives?” But he answered, “Very well, you stop here, and listen; by and by you will hear news of me.”
For he had found something out after he was discovered by his mother, by his relations, and by his brothers. They discovered him one night whilst they were all dancing in the great House of Assembly. Whilst his relations were all dancing there, they then found out who he was in this manner. For little Maui, the infant, crept into the house, and went and sat behind one of his brothers, and hid himself, so when their mother counted her children that they might stand up ready for the dance, she said—“One, that's page 11 Maui-taha; two, that's Maui-roto; three, that's Maui-pae; four, that's Maui-waho;” and then she saw another, and cried out, “Hollo, where did this fifth come from?” Then little Maui, the infant, answered, “Ah, I'm your child too.” Then the old woman counted them all over again, and said, “Oh, no, there ought to be only four of you; now for the first time I've seen you.” Then little Maui and his mother stood for a long time disputing about this in the very middle of the ranks of all the dancers.
* If a child was born before its time, and thus perished without having known the joys and pleasures of life, it was carefully buried with peculiar incantations and ceremonies; because if cast into the water, or carelessly thrown aside, it became a malicious being or spirit, actuated by a peculiar antipathy to the human race, who it spitefully persecuted, from having been itself deprived of happiness which they enjoyed. All their malicious deities had an origin of this kind.
† See Tennyson's Idylls of the King, 1st ed., Guineve, p. 240:—
“For there was no man knew from whence he came;
But after tempest, when the long wave broke
All down the thundering shore of Bude and Ross,
There came a day still as heaven, and then
They found a naked child upon the sands
Of wild Dimdagil by the Cornish sea,”
And that was Arthur; and they fostered him.
When his mother, Taranga, heard all this, she cried out, “You dear little child, you are indeed my last born, the son of my old age, therefore I now tell you your name shall be Maui-tiki-tiki-a-Taranga, or Maui-formed-in-the-top-knot-of-Taranga,” and he was called by that name.
After the disputing which took place on that occasion, his mother, Taranga, called to her last-born, “Come here, my child, and sleep with the mother who bore you that I may kiss you, and you may kiss me,” and her ran to sleep with his mother. Then his elder brothers were jealous, and began to murmur about this to each other. “Well, indeed, our mother never asks us to go and sleep with her; yet we are the children she saw actually born, and about whose birth there is no doubt. When we were little things she nursed us, laying us down gently on the large soft mats she had spread out for us—then why does she not ask us now to sleep with her? when we were little things she was fond enough of us, but now we are grown older she never caresses us, or treats us kindly. But as for this little abortion, who can tell whether he was really nursed by the sea-tangles or by whom, or whether he is not some other person's child, and here he is now page 13 sleeping with our mother. Who would ever have believed that a little abortion, thrown into the ocean, would have come back to the world again a human being!—and now this little rogue has the impudence to call himself a relation of ours.”
Then the two elder brothers said to the two younger ones, “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, oh, brothers, to be kind to other people; these are the ways by which men gain influence in the world—by labouring 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, so that peace spreads through the world. Let us take care that we are not like the children of Rangi-nui and of Papa-tu-a-nuku, who turned over in their minds thoughts for slaying their parents; four of them consented, but Tawhiri-ma-tea had little desire for this, for he loved his parents; but the rest of his brothers agreed to slay them; afterwards when Tawhiri saw that the husband was separated far from his wife, then he thought what it was his duty to do, and he fought against his brothers. Thence sprang the cause which led Tu-matauenga to wage war against his brethren and his parents, and now at last this contest is carried on even between his own kindred, so that man fights against man. Therefore let us be careful not to foster divisions amongst ourselves, lest such wicked thoughts should finally turn us each against the other, and thus we should be like the children of Rangi-nui and of Papa-tu-a-nuku.” The two younger brothers, when they heard this, answered, “Yes, yes, oh, eldest brothers of ours, you are quite right; let our murmuring end here.”
It was now night; but early in the morning Taranga rose up, and suddenly, in a moment of time, she was gone from the house where her children were. As soon as they woke up they looked all about to no purpose, as they could not see her; the elder brothers knew she had left them, and were accustomed to it; but the little child was exceedingly vexed; yet he thought, I cannot page 14 see her, 't is true, but perhaps she has only gone to prepare some food for us. No—no—she was off, far, far away.
Now at nightfall when their mother came back to them, her children were dancing and singing as usual. As soon as they had finished, she called to her last born, “Come here, my child, let us sleep together;” so they slept together; but as soon as day dawned, she disappeared; the little fellow now felt quite suspicious at such strange proceedings on the part of his mother every morning. But at last, upon another night, as he slept again with his mother, the rest of his brothers that night also sleeping with them, the little fellow crept out in the night and stole his mother's apron, her belt, and clothes, and hid them; then he went and stopped up every crevice in the wooden window, and in the door-way, so that the light of the dawn might not shine into the house, and make his mother hurry to get up. But after he had done this, his little heart still felt very anxious and uneasy lest his mother should, in her impatience, rise in the darkness and defeat his plans. But the night dragged its slow length along without his mother moving; at last there came the faint light of early morn, so that at one end of a long house you could see the legs of the people sleeping at the other end of it, but his mother still slept on; then the sun rose up, and mounted far up above the horizon; now at last his mother moved, and began to think to herself, “What kind of night can this be to last so long?” and having thought thus, she dropped to sleep again. Again she awoke, and began to think to herself, but could not tell that it was broad daylight outside, as the window and every chink in the house were stopped closely up.
At last up she jumped; and finding herself quite naked, began to look for her clothes, and apron, but could find neither; then she ran and pulled out the things with which the chinks in the windows and doors were stopped up, and whilst doing so, oh, dear! oh, dear! there she saw the sun high up in the heavens; then she snatched up, as she ran off, the old clout of a flax cloak, with which the door of the house had been stopped up, and carried it off as her only covering; getting, at last, outside the page 15 house, she hurried away, crying at the thought of being so badly treated by her own children.
As soon as his mother got outside the house, little Maui jumped up, and kneeling upon his hands and knees peeped after her through the doorway into the bright light. Whilst he was watching her, the old woman reached down to a tuft of rushes, and snatching it up from the ground, dropped into a hole underneath it, and clapping the tuft of rushes in the hole again, as if it were its covering, so disappeared. Then little Maui jumped on his feet, and, as hard as he could go, ran out of the house, pulled up the tuft of rushes, and peeping down, discovered a beautiful open cave running quite deep into the earth.
He covered up the hole again and returned to the house, and waking up his brothers who were still sleeping, said, “Come, come, my brothers, rouse up, you have slept long enough; come, get up; here we are again cajoled by our mother.” Then his brothers made haste and got up; alas! alas! the sun was quite high up in the heavens.
The little Maui now asked his brothers again, “Where do you think the place is where our father and mother dwell?” and they answered, “How should we know, we have never seen it; although we are Maui-taha, and Maui-roto, and Maui-pae, and Maui-waho, we have never seen the place; and do you think you can find that place which you are so anxious to see? What does it signify to you? Cannot you stop quietly with us? What do we care about our father, or about our mother? Did she feed us with food till we grew up to be men?—not a bit of it. Why, without doubt, Rangi, or the heaven, is our father, who kindly sent his offspring down to us; Hau-whenua, or gentle breezes, to cool the earth and young plants; and Hau-ma-ringiringi, or mists, to moisten them; and Hau-ma-roto-roto, or fine weather, to make them grow; and Touarangi, or rain, to water them; and Tomairangi, or dews, to nourish them; he gave these his offspring to cause our food to grow, and then Papa-tu-a-nuku, or the earth, made her seeds to spring, and grow forth, and provide sustenance for her children in this long-continuing world.”page 16
Little Maui then answered, “What you say is truly quite correct; but such thoughts and sayings would better become me than you, for in the foaming bubbles of the sea I was nursed and fed: it would please me better if you would think over and remember the time when you were nursed at your mother's breast; it could not have been until after you had ceased to be nourished by her milk that you could have eaten the kinds of food you have mentioned; as for me, oh! my brothers, I have never partaken either of her milk or of her food; yet I love her, for this single reason alone—that I lay in her womb; and because I love her, I wish to know where is the place where she and my father dwell.”
His brothers felt quite surprised and pleased with their little brother when they heard him talk in this way, and when after a little time they had recovered from their amazement, they told him to try and find their father and mother. So he said he would go. It was a long time ago that he had finished his first labour, for when he first appeared to his relatives in their house of singing and dancing, he had on that occasion transformed himself into the likeness of all manner of birds, of every bird in the world, and yet no single form that he then assumed had pleased his brothers; but now when he showed himself to them, transformed into the semblance of a pigeon, his brothers said, “Ah! now indeed, oh, brother, you do look very well indeed, very beautiful, very beautiful, much more beautiful than you looked in any of the other forms which you assumed, and then changed from, when you first discovered yourself to us.”
What made him now look so well in the shape he had assumed was the belt of his mother, and her apron, which he had stolen from her while she was asleep in the house; for the very thing which looked so white upon the breast of the pigeon was his mother's broad belt, and he also had on her little apron of burnished hair from the tail of a dog, and the fastening of her belt was what formed the beautiful black feathers on his throat. He had once changed himself into this form a long time ago, and now that he was going to look for his father and mother, and had quitted his brothers to transform himself into the likeness of a page 17 pigeon, he assumed exactly the same form as on the previous occasion, and when his brothers saw him thus again, they said, “Oh, brother! oh, brother! you do really look well indeed;” and when he sat upon the bough of a tree, oh, dear! he never moved, or jumped about from spray to spray, but sat quite still, cooing to himself, so that no one who had seen him could have helped thinking of the proverb—“A stupid pigeon sits on one bough, and jumps not from spray to spray.” Early the next morning, he said to his brothers, as was first stated, “Now do you remain here, and you will hear something of me after I am gone; it is my great love for my parents that leads me to search for them; now listen to me, and then say whether or not my recent feats were not remarkable. For the fact of transforming oneself into birds can only be accomplished by a man who is skilled in magic, and yet here I, the youngest of you all, have assumed the form of all birds, and now, perhaps, after all, I shall quite lose my art, and become old and weakened in the long journey to the place where I am going.” His brothers answered him thus:—“That might be indeed, if you were going on a warlike expedition, but, in truth, you are only going to look for those parents who we all so long to see, and if they are found by you, we shall ever after all dwell happily, our present sorrow will be ended, and we shall continually pass backwards and forwards between our dwelling place and theirs, paying them happy visits.”
He answered them, “It is certainly a very good cause which leads me to undertake this journey, and if, when reaching the place I am going to, I find everything agreeable and nice, then I shall, perhaps, be pleased with it, but if I find it a bad, disagreeable place, I shall be disgusted with it.” They replied to him, “What you say is exceedingly true, depart then upon your journey, with your great knowledge and skill in magic.” Then their brother went into the wood, and came back to them again, looking just as if he were a real pigeon. His brothers were quite delighted, and they had no power left to do anything but admire him.
Then off he flew, until he came to the cave which his mother had run down into and he lifted up the tuft of rushes; then down page 18 he went and disappeared in the cave, and shut up its mouth again so as to hide the entrance; away he flew very fast indeed, and twice he dipped his wing, because the cave was so narrow; soon he reached nearly to the bottom of the cave, and flew along it; and again, because the cave was so narrow, he dips first one wing and then the other, but the cave now widened, and he dashed straight on.
At last he saw a party of people coming along under a grove of trees, they were manapau trees,* and flying on, he perched upon the top of one of these trees, under which the people had seated themselves; and when he saw his mother lying down on the grass by the side of her husband, he guessed at once who they were, and he thought, “Ah! there sit my father and mother right under me;” and he soon heard their names, as they were called to by their friends who were sitting with them; then the pigeon hopped down, and perched on another spray a little lower, and it pecked off one of the berries of the tree and dropped it gently down, and hit the father with it on the forehead; and some of the party said, “Was it a bird that threw that down?” but the father said, “Oh no, it was only a berry that fell by chance.”
Then the pigeon again pecked off some of the berries from the tree, and threw them down with all its force, and struck both father and mother, so that he really hurt them; then they cried out, and the whole party jumped up and looked into the tree, and as the pigeon began to coo, they soon found out from the noise, where it was sitting amongst the leaves and branches, and the whole of them, the chiefs and common people alike, caught up stones to pelt the pigeon with, but they threw for a very long time without hitting it; at last the father tried to throw up at it; ah, he struck it, but Maui had himself contrived that he should be struck by the stone which his father threw; for, but by his own choice, no one could have hit him; he was struck exactly upon his left leg, and down he fell, and as he lay fluttering and struggling upon the ground, they all ran to catch him, but lo, the pigeon had turned into a man.
* The manapau was a species of tree peculiar to the country from whence the people came, where the priests say it was known by that name.
Then all those who saw him were frightened at his fierce glaring eyes, which were red as if painted with red ochre, and they said, “Oh, it is now no wonder that he so long sat still up in the tree; had he been a bird he would have flown off long before, but he is a man:” and some of them said, “No, indeed, rather a god—just look at his form and appearance, the like has never been seen before, since Rangi and Papa-tu-a-nuku were torn apart.” Then Taranga said, “I used to see one who looked like this person every night when I went to visit my children, but what I saw then excelled what I see now; just listen to me. Once as I was wandering upon the sea-shore, I prematurely gave birth to one of my children, and I cut off the long tresses of my hair, and bound him up in them, and threw him into the foam of the sea, and after that he was found by his ancestor Tama-nui-ki-te Rangi;” and then she told his history nearly in the same words that Maui-the-infant had told it to herself and his brothers in their house, and having finished his history, Taranga ended her discourse to her husband and his friends.
Then his mother asked Maui, who was sitting near her, “Where do you come from? from the westward?” and he answered, “No.” “From the north-east then?” “No.” “From the south-east then?” “No.” “From the south then?” “No.” “Was it the wind which blows upon me, which brought you here to me then?” When she asked this, he opened his mouth and answered, “Yes.” And she cried out, “Oh, this then is indeed my child;” and she said, “Are you Maui-taha?” He answered, “No.” Then said she, “Are you Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga?” and he answered, “Yes.” And she cried aloud, “This is indeed my child. By the winds and storms and wave-uplifting gales he was fashioned and became a human being; welcome, oh my child, welcome; by you shall hereafter be climbed the threshold of the house of your great ancestor Hine-nui-te-po, and death shall henceforth have no power over man.”
Then the lad was taken by his father to the water, to be baptized, and after the ceremony prayers were offered to make him sacred, and clean from all impurities; but when it was page 20 completed, his father Makea-tu-tara felt greatly alarmed, because he remembered that he had, from mistake, hurriedly skipped over part of the prayers of the baptismal service, and of the services to purify Maui; he knew that the gods would be certain to punish this fault, by causing Maui to die, and his alarm and anxiety were therefore extreme. At night-fall they all went into his house.
Maui, after these things, returned to his brothers to tell them that he had found his parents, and to explain to them where they dwelt.
Shortly after Maui had thus returned to his brothers, he slew and carried off his first victim, who was the daughter of Maru-te-whare-aitu; afterwards, by enchantments, he destroyed the crops of Maru-te-whare-aitu, so that they all withered.
He then again paid a visit to his parents, and remained for some time with them, and whilst he was there he remarked that some of their people daily carried away a present of food for some person; at length, surprised at this, he one day asked them, “Who is that you are taking that present of food to?” And the people who were going with it answered him, “It is for your ancestress, for Muri-ranga-whenua.” He asked again, “Where does she dwell?” They answered, “Yonder.” Thereupon he says, “That will do; leave here the present of food, I will carry it to her myself.”
From that time the daily presents of food for his ancestress were carried by Maui himself; but he never took and gave them to her that she might eat them, but he quietly laid them by on one side, and this he did for many days. At last, Muri-ranga-whenua suspected that something wrong was going on, and the next time he came along the path carrying the present of food, the old chieftainess sniffed and sniffed until she thought she smelt something coming, and she was very much exasperated, and her stomach began to distend itself, that she might be ready to devour Maui as soon as he came there. Then she turned to the southward, and smelt and sniffed, but not a scent of anything reached her; then she turned round from the south to the north, by the east, with her nose up in the air sniffing and smelling to every page 21 point as she turned slowly round, but she could not detect the slightest scent of a human being, and almost thought that she must have been mistaken; but she made one more trial, and sniffed the breeze towards the westward. Ah! then the scent of a man came plainly to her, so she called aloud, “I know from the smell wafted here to me by the breeze that somebody is close to me,” and Maui murmured assent. Thus the old woman knew that he was a descendant of hers, and her stomach, which was quite large and distended, immediately began to shrink and contract itself again. If the smell of Maui had not been carried to her by the western breeze, undoubtedly she would have eaten him up.
When the stomach of Muri-ranga-whenua had quietly sunk down to its usual size, her voice was again heard saying, “Art thou Maui?” and he answered, “Even so.”
Then she asked him, “Wherefore hast thou served thy old ancestress in this deceitful way?” and Maui answered, “I was anxious that thy jaw-bone, by which the great enchantments can be wrought, should be given to me.”
She answered, “Take it, it has been reserved for thee.” And Maui took it, and having done so returned to the place where he and his brothers dwelt.
The young hero, Maui, had not been long at home with his brothers when he began to think that it was too soon after the rising of the sun that it became night again, and that the sun again sank down below the horizon, every day; in the same manner the days appeared too short to him. So at last, one day he said to his brothers, “Let us now catch the sun in a noose, so that we may compel him to move more slowly, in order that mankind may have long days to labour in to procure subsistence for themselves;” but they answered him, “Why, no man could approach it on account of its warmth, and the fierceness of its heat;” but the young hero said to them, “Have you not seen the multitude of things I have already achieved? Did not you see me change myself into the likeness of every bird of the forest; you and I equally had the aspect and appearance of men, page 22 yet I by my enchantments changed suddenly from the appearance of a man and became a bird, and then, continuing to change my form, I resembled this bird or that bird, one after the other, until I had by degrees transformed myself into every bird in the world, small or great; and did I not after all this again assume the form of a man? [This he did soon after he was born, and it was after that he snared the sun.] Therefore, as for that feat, oh, my brothers, the changing myself into birds, I accomplished it by enchantments, and I will by the same means accomplish also this other thing which I have in my mind.” When his brothers heard this, they consented on his persuasions to aid him in the conquest of the sun.
Then they began to spin and twist ropes to form a noose to catch the sun in, and in doing this they discovered the mode of plaiting flax into stout square-shaped ropes (tuamaka), and the manner of plaiting flat ropes (paraharaha), and of spinning round ropes; at last, they finished making all the ropes which they required. Then Maui took up his enchanted weapon, and he took his brothers with him, and they carried their provisions, ropes, and other things with them, in their hands. They travelled all night, and as soon as day broke, they halted in the desert, and hid themselves that they might not be seen by the sun; and at night they renewed their journey, and before dawn they halted, and hid themselves again; at length they got very far, very far, to the eastward, and came to the very edge of the place out of which the sun rises.
Then they set to work and built on each side of this place a long high wall of clay, with huts of boughs of trees at each end to hide themselves in; when these were finished, they made the loops of the noose, and the brothers of Maui then lay in wait on one side of the place out of which the sun rises, and Maui himself lay in wait upon the other side.
The young hero held in his hand his enchanted weapon, the jaw-bone of his ancestress—of Muriranga-whenua, and said to his brothers, “Mind now, keep yourselves hid, and do not go showing yourselves foolishly to the sun; if you do, you will frighten him; page 23 but wait patiently until his head and fore legs have got well into the snare, then I will shout out; haul away as hard as you can on the ropes on both sides, and then I'll rush out and attack him, but do you keep your ropes tight for a good long time (while I attack him), until he is nearly dead, when we will let him go; but mind now, my brothers, do not let him move you to pity with his shrieks and screams.”
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, and it takes in more and more of his body, until his fore-paws pass through; then are pulled tight the ropes, and the monster began to struggle and roll himself about, whilst 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-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga, with his enchanted weapon. Alas! the sun screams aloud; he roars; Maui strikes him fiercely with many blows; they hold him for a long time, at last they let him go, and then weak from wounds the sun crept slowly along its course. Then was learnt by men the second name of the sun, for in its agony the sun screamed out, “Why am I thus smitten by you! oh, man! do you know what you are doing? Why should you wish to kill Tamanui-te-Ra?” Thus was learnt his second name. At last they let him go. Oh, then, Tamanui-te-Ra went very slowly and feebly on his course.
Maui-taha and his brothers, after this feat, returned again to their own house, and dwelt there, and dwelt there, and dwelt there; and after a long time his brothers went out fishing, whilst Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga stopped idly at home doing nothing, although indeed he had to listen to the sulky grumblings of his wives and children, at his laziness in not catching fish for them. Then he called out to the women, “Never mind, O mothers, yourselves and your children need not fear. Have not I accomplished all things? and as for this little feat, this trifling work of getting food for you, do you think I cannot do that? certainly; if I go page 24 and get a fish for you, it will be one so large that when I bring it to land you will not be able to eat it all, and the sun will shine on it and make it putrid before it is consumed.” Then Maui snooded his enchanted fish hook, which was pointed with part of the jawbone of Muri-ranga-whenua; and when he had finished this, he twisted a stout fishing-line to his hook.
His brothers in the meantime had arranged amongst themselves to make fast the lashings of the top sides of their canoe, in order to go out for a good day's fishing. When all was made ready, they launched their canoe, and as soon as it was afloat Maui jumped into it, and his brothers, who were afraid of his enchantments, cried out, “Come, get you out again; we will not let you go with us; your magical arts will get us into some difficulty.” So he was compelled to remain ashore whilst his brothers paddled off, and when they reached the fishing ground they lay upon their paddles and fished, and after a good day's sport returned ashore.
As soon as it was dark night Maui went down to the shore, got into his brothers' canoe, and hid himself under the bottom boards of it. The next forenoon his brothers came down to the shore to go fishing again, and they had their canoe launched, and paddled out to sea without ever seeing Maui, who lay hid in the hollow of the canoe, under the bottom boards. When they got well out to sea, Maui crept out of his hiding-place; as soon as his brothers saw him they said, “We had better get back to the shore again as fast as we can, since this fellow is on board;” but Maui, by his enchantments, stretched out the sea, so that the shore instantly became very distant from them, and by the time they could turn themselves round to look for it it was out of view. Maui now said to them, “You had better let me go on with you; I shall at least be useful to bail the water out of our canoe.” To this they consented, and they paddled on again, and speedily arrived at the fishing ground where they used to fish upon former occasions. As soon as they got there his brothers said, “Let us drop the anchor and fish here;” and he answered, “Oh no, don't; we had much better paddle a long distance further out.” Upon this they paddle on, and paddle as far as the farthest fishing ground, a long way page 25 out to sea, and then his brothers at last say. “Come now, we must drop anchor and fish here.” And he replies again, “Oh, the fish here are very fine, I suppose; but we had much better pull right out to sea, and drop anchor there. If we go out to the place where I wish the anchor to be let go, before you can get a hook to the bottom, a fish will come following it back to the top of the water. You won't have to stop there a longer time than you can wink your eye in, and our canoe will come back to shore full of fish.” As soon as they hear this they paddle away—they paddle away until they reach a very long distance off, and his brothers then say, “We are now far enough;” and he replies, “No, no; let us go out of sight of land, and when we have quite lost sight of it, then let the anchor be dropped; but let it be very far off, quite out in the open sea.”
At last they reach the open sea, and his brothers begin to fish. Lo, lo, they had hardly let their hooks down to the bottom, when they each pulled up a fish into the canoe. Twice only they let down their lines, when behold the canoe was filled up with the number of fish they had caught. Then his brothers said, “O brother, let us all return now.” And he answered them, “Stay a little; let me also throw my hook into the sea.” And his brothers replied, “Where did you get a hook?” And he answered, “Oh, never mind; I have a hook of my own.” And his brothers replied again, “Make haste and throw it then.” And as he pulled it out from under his garments the light flashed from the beautiful mother-of-pearl shell in the hollow of the hook, and his brothers saw that the hook was carved and ornamented with tufts of hair pulled from the tail of a dog, and it looked exceedingly beautiful. Maui then asked his brothers to give him a little bait to bait his hook with; but they replied, “We will not give you any of our bait.” So he doubled his fist and struck his nose violently, and the blood gushed out, and he smeared his hook with his own blood for bait, and then he cast it into the sea, and it sank down, and sank down, till it reached to the small carved figure on the roof of a house at the bottom of the sea; then, passing by the figure, it descended along the outside carved rafters of the roof, and fell in at page 26 the doorway of the house, and the hook of Maui-tiki-tiki-o-Taranga caught first in the sill of the doorway. Then, feeling something on his hook, he began to haul in his line. Ah! ah! there ascended on his hook the house of that old fellow Tonganui. It came up, up; and as it rose high, oh dear! how his hook was strained with its great weight; and there came gurgling up foam and bubbles from the earth, as of an island emerging from the water, and his brothers opened their mouths and cried aloud.
When he had finished his incantation, there floated up, hanging to his line, the fish of Maui, a portion of the earth, of Papa-tu-a-nuku. Alas! alas! their canoe lay aground.
“Wherefore, then, oh! Tonganui,
Dost thou hold fast so obstinately below there?”
Maui then left his brothers with their canoe, and returned to the village; but before he went he said to them, “After I am gone, be courageous and patient; do not eat food until I return, and do not let our fish be cut up, but rather leave it until I have carried an offering to the gods from this great haul of fish, and until I have found a priest, that fitting prayers and sacrifices may be offered to the god, and the necessary rites be completed in order. We shall thus all be purified. I will then return, and we can cut up this fish in safety, and it shall be fairly portioned out to this one, and to that one, and to that other; and on my arrival you shall each have your due share of it, and return to your homes joyfully; and what we leave behind us will keep good, and that which we take away with us, returning, will be good too.”
Maui had hardly gone, after saying all this to them, than his brothers trampled under their feet the words they had heard him page 27 speak. They began at once to eat food, and to cut up the fish. When they did this, Maui had not yet arrived at the sacred place, in the presence of the god; had he previously reached the sacred place, the heart of the deity would have been appeased with the offering of a portion of the fish which had been caught by his disciples, and all the male and female deities would have partaken of their portions of the sacrifice. Alas! alas! those foolish, thoughtless brothers of his cut up the fish, and behold the gods turned with wrath upon them, on account of the fish which they had thus cut up without having made a fitting sacrifice. Then, indeed, the fish began to toss about his head from side to side, and to lash his tail, and the fins upon his back, and his lower jaw. Ah! ah! well done Tangaroa, it springs about on shore as briskly as if it was in the water.
That is the reason that this island is now so rough and uneven—that here stands a mountain—that there lies a plain—that here descends a vale—that there rises a cliff. If the brothers of Maui had not acted so deceitfully, the huge fish would have lain flat and smooth, and would have remained as a model for the rest of the earth, for the present generation of men. This, which has just been recounted, is the second evil which took place after the separation of Heaven from Earth.
Thus was dry land fished up by Maui after it had been hidden under the ocean by Rangi and Tawhiri-ma-tea. It was with an enchanted fish-hook that he drew it up, which was pointed with a bit of the jaw-bone of his ancestress Muri-ranga-whenua; and in the district of Heretaunga they still show the fish-hook of Maui, which became a cape stretching far out into the sea, and now forms the southern extremity of Hawke's Bay.
The hero now thought that he would extinguish and destroy the fires of his ancestress of Mahu-ika. So he got up in the night, and put out the fires left in the cooking-houses of each family in the village; then, quite early in the morning, he called aloud to the servants, “I hunger, I hunger; quick, cook some food for me.” One of the servants thereupon ran as fast as he could to make up the fire to cook some food, but the fire was out; and as page 28 he ran round from house to house in the village to get a light he found every fire quite out—he could nowhere get a light.
When Maui’s mother heard this, she called out to the servants, and said, “Some of you repair to my great ancestress Mahu-ika; tell her that fire has been lost upon earth, and ask her to give some to the world again.” But the slaves were alarmed, and refused to obey the commands which their masters, the sacred old people, gave them, and they persisted in refusing to go, notwithstanding the old people repeatedly ordered them to do so.
At last Maui said to his mother, “Well, then, I will fetch down fire for the world; but which is the path by which I must go?” And his parents, who knew the country well, said to him, “If you will go, follow that broad path that lies just before you there; and you will at last reach the dwelling of an ancestress of yours; and if she asks you who you are, you had better call out your name to her, then she will know you are a descendant of hers; but be cautious, and do not play any tricks with her, because we have heard that your deeds are greater than the deeds of men, and that you are fond of deceiving and injuring others, and perhaps you even now intend in many ways to deceive this old ancestress of yours, but pray be cautions not to do so.”
But Maui said, “No, I only want to bring fire away for men, that is all, and I'll return again as soon as I can do that.” Then he went, and reached the abode of the goddess of fire; and he was so filled with wonder at what he saw, that for a long time he could say nothing. At last he said, “Oh, lady, would you rise up? Where is your fire kept? I have come to beg some from you.”
Then the aged lady rose right up, and said, “Au-e! who can this mortal be?” and he answered, “It's I.” “Where do you come from?” said she; and he answered, “I belong to this country.” “You are not from this country,” said she; “your appearance is not like that of the inhabitants of this country. Do you come from the north-east?” He replied, “No.” “Do you come from the south-east?” He replied, “No.” “Are you from the south?” He replied, “No.” “Are you from the westward?” page 29 He answered, “No.” “Come you, then, from the direction of the wind which blows right upon me?” and he said, “I do.” “Oh, then,” cried she, “you are my grand-child; what do you want here?” He answered, “I am come to beg fire from you.” She replied, “Welcome, welcome; here then is fire for you.”
Then the aged woman pulled out her nail; and as she pulled it out fire flowed from it, and she gave it to him. And when Maui saw she had drawn out her nail to produce fire for him, he thought it a most wonderful thing! Then he went a short distance off, and when not very far from her he put the fire out, quite out; and returning to her again, said, “The light you gave me has gone out, give me another.” Then she caught hold of another nail, and pulled it out as a light for him; and he left her, and went a little on one side, and put that light out also; then he went back to her again, and said, “Oh, lady, give me, I pray you, another light, for the last one has also gone out.” And thus he went on and on, until she had pulled out all the nails of the fingers of one of her hands; and then she began with the other hand, until she had pulled all the finger-nails out of that hand, too; and then she commenced upon the nails of her feet, and pulled them also out in the same manner, except the nail of one of her big toes. Then the aged woman said to herself at last, “This fellow is surely playing tricks with me.”
Then out she pulled the one toe nail that she had left, and it, too, became fire, and as she dashed it down on the ground the whole place caught fire. And she cried out to Maui, “There, you have it all now!” And Maui ran off, and made a rush to escape, but the fire followed hard after him, close behind him; so he changed himself into a fleet-winged eagle, and flew with rapid flight, but the fire pursued, and almost caught him as he flew. Then the eagle dashed down into a pool of water; but when he got into the water he found that almost boiling: the forests just then also caught fire, so that he could not alight anywhere, and the earth and the sea both caught fire too, and Maui was very near perishing in the flames.page 30
Then he called on his ancestors Tawhiri-ma-tea and Whatiri-matakataka, to send down an abundant supply of water, and he cried aloud, “Oh, let water be given to me to quench this fire which pursues after me;” and lo, then appeared squalls and gales, and Tawhiri-ma-tea sent heavy lasting rain, and the fire was quenched; and before Mahuika could reach her place of shelter, she almost perished in the rain, and her shrieks and screams became as loud as those of Maui had been, when he was scorched by the pursuing fire; thus Maui ended this proceeding. In this manner was extinguished the fire of Mahuika, the goddess of fire; but before it was all lost, she saved a few sparks which she threw, to protect them, into the Kaikomako, and a few other trees, where they are still cherished; hence, men yet use portions of the wood of these trees for fire when they require a light.
Then he returned to the village, and his mother and father said to him, “You heard when we warned you before you went, nevertheless you played tricks with your ancestress; it served you right that you got into such trouble;” and the young fellow answered his parents, “Oh, what do I care for that? do you think that my perverse proceedings are put a stop to by this? Certainly not; I intend to go on in the same way for ever, ever, ever.” And his father answered him, “Yes, then you may just please yourself about living or dying; if you will only attend to me, you will save your life; if you do not attend to what I say, it will be worse for you, that is all.” As soon as this conversation was ended, off the young fellow went to find some more companions for his other scrapes.
Maui had a young sister named Hinauri, who was exceedingly beautiful; she married Irawaru. One day Maui and his brother-in-law went down to the sea to fish; Maui caught not a single fish with his hook, which had no barb to it, but as long as they went on fishing Maui observed that Irawaru continued catching plenty of fish; so he thought to himself, “Well, how is this? how does that fellow catch so many whilst I cannot catch one?” Just as he thought this, Irawaru had another bite, and up he page 31 pulls his line in haste, but it had got entangled with that of Maui, and Maui thinking he felt a fish pulling at his own line, drew it in quite delighted; but when he had hauled up a good deal of it, there were himself and his brother-in-law pulling in their lines in different directions, one drawing the line towards the bow of the canoe, the other towards the stern.
Maui, who was already provoked at his own ill-luck, and the good luck of his brother-in-law, now called out quite angrily, “Come, let go my line, the fish is on my hook.” But Irawaru answered, “No, it is not, it is on mine.”
Maui again called out very angrily, “Come, let go, I tell you it is on mine.”
Irawaru then slacked out his line, and let Maui pull in the fish; and as soon as he had hauled it into the canoe, Maui found that Irawaru was right, and that the fish was on his hook; when Irawaru saw this too, he called out, “Come now, let go my line and hook.” Maui answered him, “Cannot you wait a minute, until I take the hook out of the fish.”
As soon as he got the hook out of the fish's mouth, he looked at it, and saw that it was barbed; Maui, who was already exceedingly wrath with his brother-in-law, on observing this, thought he had no chance with his barbless hook of catching as many fish as his brother-in-law, so he said, “Don't you think we had better go on shore now?” Irawaru answered, “Very well, let us return to the land again.”
So they paddled back towards the land, and when they reached it, and were going to haul the canoe on the beach, Maui said to his brother-in-law, “Do you get under the out-rigger of the canoe, and lift it up with your back;” so he got under it, and as soon as he had done so, Maui jumped on it, and pressed the whole weight of the canoe down upon him, and almost killed Irawaru.
When he was on the point of death, Maui trampled on his body, and lengthened his back-bone, and by his enchantments page 32 drew it out into the form of a tail, and he transformed Irawaru into a dog, and fed him with dung.*
As soon as he had done this, Maui went back to his place of abode, just as if nothing unusual had taken place, and his young sister, who was watching for the return of her husband, as soon as she saw Maui coming, ran to him and asked him, saying, “Maui, where is your brother-in-law?” Maui answered, “I left him at the canoe.” But his young sister said, “Why did not you both come home together?” and Maui answered, “He desired me to tell you that he wanted you to go down to the beach to help him carry up the fish; you had better go therefore; and if you do not see him, just call out; and if he does not answer you, why then call out in this way, Mo-i, mo-i, mo-i.”
Upon learning this, Hinauri hurried down to the beach as fast as she could, and not seeing her husband, she went about calling out his name, but no answer was made to her; she then called out as Maui had told her, “Mo-i, mo-i, mo-i, mo-oi.” Then Irawaru, who was running about in the bushes near there, in the form of a dog, at once recognised the voice of Hinauri, and answered, “Ao! ao! ao! ao-ao-o!” howling like a dog, and he followed her back to the village, frisking along and wagging his tail with pleasure at seeing her; and from him sprang all dogs, so that he is regarded as their progenitor, and all New Zealanders still call their dogs to them by the words, “Mo-i, mo-i, mo-i.”
* This quarrel of Maui with his brother-in-law, Irawaru, is sometimes narrated in this way:—
Maui and his brother-in-law had been paying a visit to the people of a village not very distant from where they lived; when they were about to return home again, Maui asked his brother-in-law to carry a little provision for them both upon their short journey, but Irawaru answered surlily, “What should I carry any provision for? Why I have just had an excellent meal.” They then started, and Maui, who was very angry, by his enchantments drew out the earth as they proceeded, so as to lengthen exceedingly the road they had to traverse; at last, being both overcome by hunger and fatigue, they sat down to rest, and Maui, who knew what his intentions were before they started, and had brought provisions with him, eat a good meal, but gave none to his brother-in-law. He then, to throw Irawaru off his guard, asked him to clean and dress his hair for him, and laid his head on his lap for that purpose; when his own was finished, he offered to do the same for Irawaru, who suspecting no harm laid his head on Maui's lap, who threw him into an enchanted sleep, and then by his enchantments changed him into a dog.
Hinauri, when she saw that her husband had been changed into a dog, was quite distracted with grief, and wept bitterly the whole way as she went back to the village, and as soon as ever she got into her house she caught up an enchanted girdle which she had, and ran back to the sea with it, determined to destroy herself by throwing herself into the ocean, so that the dragons and monsters of the deep might devour her; when she reached the sea-shore, she sat down upon the rocks at the ocean's very edge, and as she sat there she first lamented aloud her cruel fate, and repeated an incantation, and then threw herself into the sea, and the tide swept her off from the shore.
Maui now felt it necessary to leave the village where Irawaru had lived, so he returned to his parents, and when he had been with them for some time his father said to him one day, “Oh my son, I have heard from your mother and others that you are very valiant, and that you have succeeded in all feats that you have undertaken in your own country, whether they were small or great; but now that you have arrived in your father's country, you will, perhaps, at last be overcome.” Then Maui asked him, “What do you mean? what things are there that I can be vanquished by?” And his father answered him, “By your great ancestress, by Hine-nui-te-po, who if you look, you may see flashing, and as it were opening and shutting there, where the horizon meets the sky.” And Maui replied, “Lay aside such idle thoughts, and let us both fearlessly seek whether men are to die or live for ever.” And his father said, “My child, there had been an ill omen for us; when I was baptizing you, I omitted a portion of the fitting prayers, and that I know will be the cause of your perishing.”
Then Maui asked his father, “What is my ancestress Hine-nui-te-po like?” and he answered, “What you see yonder shining so brightly red are her eyes, and her teeth are as sharp and hard as pieces of volcanic glass; her body is like that of a man; and as for the pupils of her eyes, they are jade (pounamu); and her hair is like the tangles of long seaweed, and her mouth is like that of a barracouta.” Then his son answered him, “Do you think her strength page 34 is as great as that of Tama-nui-te-Ra, who consumes man, and the earth, and the very waters, by the fierceness of his heat? Was not the world formerly saved alive by the speed with which he travelled? If he had then, in the days of his full strength and power, gone as slowly as he does now, not a remnant of mankind would have been left living upon the earth, nor, indeed, would anything else have survived. But I laid hold of Tama-nui-te-Ra, and now he goes slowly, for I smote him again and again, so that he is now feeble, and long in travelling his course, and he now gives but very little heat, having been weakened by the blows of my enchanted weapon; I then, too, split him open in many places, and from the wounds so made, many rays now issue forth, and spread in all directions. So, also, I found the sea much larger than the earth; but by the power of the last born of your children, part of the earth was drawn up again, and dry land came forth.” And his father answered him, “That is all very true, O my last born and the strength of my old age; well, then, be bold, go and visit your ancestress who flashes so fiercely there, where the edge of the horizon meets the sky.”
Hardly was this conversation concluded with his father, when the young hero went forth to look for companions to accompany him upon this enterprise; and so there came to him for companions the small robin, and the large robin, and the thrush, and the yellow-hammer, and every kind of little bird, and the water-wagtail, and these all assembled together, and they all started with Maui in the evening, and arrived at the dwelling of Hine-nui-te-po, and found her fast asleep.
Then Maui addressed them all, and said, “My little friends, now if you see me creep into this old chieftainess, do not laugh at what you see. Nay, nay, do not, I pray you; but when I have got altogether inside her, and just as I am coming out of her mouth, then you may shout with laughter if you please.” And his little friends, who were frightened at what they saw, replied, “O sir, you will certainly be killed.” And he answered them, “If you burst out laughing at me as soon as I get inside her, you will wake her up, and she will certainly kill me at once; but if you do not page 35 laugh until I am quite inside her, and am on the point of coming out of her mouth, I shall live, and Hine-nui-te-po will die.” And his little friends answered, “Go on then, brave sir, but pray take good care of yourself.”
Then the young hero started off, and twisted the strings of his weapon tightly round his wrist, and went into the house and stripped off his clothes, and the skin on his hips looked mottled and beautiful as that of a mackerel, from the tattoo marks cut on it with the chisel of Uetonga; and he entered the old chieftainess.
The little birds now screwed up their tiny cheeks, trying to suppress their laughter. At last the little Tiwakawaka could no longer keep it in, and laughed out loud, with its merry, cheerful note; this woke the old woman up; she opened her eyes, started up, and killed Maui.
Thus died this Maui we have spoken of; but before he died he had children, and sons were born to him; some of his descendants yet live in Hawaiki, some in Aotearoa (or in these islands); the greater part of his descendants remained in Hawaiki, but a few of them came here to Aotearoa. According to the traditions of the Maori,* this was the cause of the introduction of death into the world (Hine-nui-te-po being the goddess of death: if Maui had passed safely through her, then no more human beings would have died, but death itself would have been destroyed), and we express it by saying, “The water-wagtail laughing at Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga made Hine-nui-te-po squeeze him to death.” And we have this proverb, “Men make heirs, but death carries them off.”
Thus end the deeds of the son of Makeatutara and of Taranga, and the deeds of the sons of Ranginui and of Papa-tu-a-Nuku. This is the narrative about the generations of the ancestors of the inhabitants of New Zealand, and therefore we, the people of that country, preserve closely these traditions of old times, as a thing to be taught to the generations that come after us; so we repeat them in our prayers, and whenever we relate the deeds of the ancestors from whom each family is descended, and upon other similar occasions.
* Inhabitants of New Zealand.