Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2
The Maui Myths
The Maui Myths
No account of Maori mythology can be viewed as satisfactory unless it includes a narration of the Maui myths, albeit these stories have been included in all comprehensive works on the Maori folk of these isles. These tales include a number of origin myths and were among the most highly favoured recitals indulged in as a pastime during leisure hours; they were viewed as popular tales and may be classed as second class myths, superior to ordinary folk tales but inferior to the cosmogonic and other myths given in part 1 (Dominion Museum Bulletin 10) of this study. Early writers on the Maori were apt to look upon these tales as being extremely puerile, but we can now see some meaning in them and know that such stories are of an allegorical nature; we cannot mistake the meaning of the story of Maui and Hine, when he strove to gain eternal life for man, and light perished in the womb of darkness; it is but another aspect of the struggle between Tane and Whiro.
Nicholas seems to have been the first writer to collect data pertaining to Maui in New Zealand. The Maw-we of Tahiti mentioned in the anonymous account of Cook's first voyage may be Maui, who is spoken of as the discoverer of fire at that isle, but as the 1769 account of Maw-we speaks of him as the cause of earthquakes, then the name may be intended for Mahui'e, the Tahitian form of Mahuika, who is often connected with earthquakes in Polynesia. Nicholas, who was in New Zealand in 1815, mentions three of the Maui brothers, the names being given as Mowheerangara, Mowheemooha, and Mowheebotakee, these names representing Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, Maui-mua, and Maui-potiki. It is, however, clear that the first named cannot have been given to Nicholas in the form in which we know it. Nicholas speaks of the first named as the 'Supreme Deity' of the Maori, an exalted position for Maui the hero. The task of Maui-mua, he tells us, is to fasten submarine lands to his brother's hook when he wishes to draw them up to the light of day, and so 'Mowheebotakoe' hauls them up, also he controls in some way all forms of disease, and "the power of giving life is exclusively vested in him". He also tells us that these three 'gods' created the first man, and that "the first woman was made of one of the man's ribs", so we see that friend Nicholas is but a lame guide as to the Maui myths (Nicholas, J. L., Voyage to New Zealand, vol. 1, pp. 56-60).page 330
In his Account of New Zealand (2nd ed., 1835, p. 142) the Rev. W. Yate informs us that the Maui stories are "truly ridiculous" and doubtless they are so when viewed from certain standpoints, just as those concerning Jack the Giant Killer and Eve and the Serpent are. Mr Yate gives us details of the Maui myths that have not been collected since, and seems to have got his notes badly mixed. He allows Mawe, as he terms Maui, but one brother, one Taki, who appears to represent Tawhaki (Yate, op. cit., pp. 142-145).
Polack, in his New Zealand, speaks of "Mawe the King of Heaven" as having hauled up New Zealand from ocean depths. Elsewhere he alludes to "Maui" as the father of the gods (op. cit., pp. 227-9). These garbled notes are repeated in the same writer's Manners and Customs of the New Zealanders (1840). In Wade's Journey in the Northern Island of New Zealand (1842) we find a fuller and more correct account of these stories. Here the five Maui brothers appear as the sons of Mahuika, the man who first produced fire; Mahuika appears as a woman in most New Zealand tales.
Shortland, in his Traditions and Superstitions of the New Zealanders (1856) pp. 61-4, tells of but three Maui brothers, and gives us a version of the Maui and Hine-nui-te-po episode not met with elsewhere; he omits the other tales of the series. In Thomson's Story of New Zealand (1859) we have a very brief reference to the Maui myths in vol. 1, pp. 109-111 but in Taylor's Te Ika a Maui (1855) we have a fairly comprehensive account, although a brief one, pp. 23-31. Another account occupies seven pages of Buller's Forty Years in New Zealand, pp. 183-190. The late Sir George Grey first collected and recorded a fairly full account of these Maui tales, this was in the middle of last century, and some very inferior versions have been published since the appearance of Grey's Polynesian Mythology in 1855. In the second vol. of White's Ancient History of the Maori (1887) pp. 62-119 is recorded much detail concerning Maui's adventures, but there is also much repetition.
The Maui myths have occupied a prominent place in all recitals and collections of Maori traditionary lore, but nearly all the incidents in these myths are connected with Maui-potiki, the youngest of the five brothers. A perusal of these is somewhat confusing to the reader inasmuch as we are told that Maui and his brothers were denizens of a remote homeland in remote times, but also we learn that during a sea fishing trip of these brothers Maui-potiki hauled up the land of New Zealand. In many isles of page 331Polynesia this story has been localised, and so Maui is credited with having fished up many islands from the deeps. Several writers have explained these stories as meaning that Maui discovered the isles to which such stories pertain, but there is no precise traditionary evidence to show that any navigator of that name ever explored Polynesia, as we have in the case of a number of old sea rovers. At p. 161 et seq. of vol. 6 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society Mr A. Shand shows his belief that there were two Maui, one pertaining to a far back period of myth, and the other to comparatively late times; this latter being viewed as a sea voyager. Mr S. Percy Smith, author of Hawaiki, etc., upheld this view, as shown at p. 36 of vol. 20, p. 154 of vol. 24, and p. 123 of vol. 26 of the above mentioned Journal; see also Hawaiki (4th ed) pp. 129, 153-7. This theory does not explain how it is that, in all these stories, Maui is one of five brothers whose names are identical throughout.
The present writer inclines to the view that all the Maui stories are myths, and that all pertain to a mythical hero, a personified form of light or day.
If, as seems to be the case, Maui personified light, or the sun, or day, then light drew up the isles from the realms of darkness, the unknown. E. B. Tylor, the anthropologist, in Primitive Culture, vol. 1, pp. 302-3, believed that Maui represented the sun, and Tregear followed his lead. But others hold that Maui does not represent the sun directly, but rather its light, in which case he would appear to be a double of Tane-te-waiora. The name of Maui does not tell us much if we look up the name as a word of vernacular speech, but in whakamaui we have a genuine and interesting Maori expression, inasmuch as it means to regain life, as a person recovering from a severe illness. In various Polynesian tongues we note that moui and maui mean "life", even as mauri does, and mouri is a variant form of mauri. At Niue fakamoui means "to save", it is the whakamaui of Maoriland, and the bakamauri"to cause to live" of Efate. Maui means "life" at Tonga, "life" and "living" at Niue. A peculiar statement at p. 15, vol. 2 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society is to the effect that at Niue the underworld of spirits is called Maui, but the bright land of Sina (Hina) is in the sky (Tregear, "Niue: or Savage Island").
Our famous hero Maui was the youngest of the five Maui brothers, hence he was known as Maui-potiki; he was also known as Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga, the origin of which name will appear anon. In addition to these he had several descriptive titles, such page 332as Maui-nuka-rau, Mauitoa and Maui-mohio, these being employed occasionally in order to emphasise the qualities of deceitfulness, courage and wisdom said to have been possessed by him. It will be seen that, in some Polynesian isles he is known as Tikitiki, and an interesting name assigned to him is that of Maui-matawaru, or matavaru for which see the Polynesian Journal, vol. 2, Tregear—"Asiatic Gods in the Pacific" p. 143, and vol. 27, Percy Smith—"Notes on the Mangareva, or Gambier Group of Islands" p. 131. This title is rendered as "Maui the eight-eyed" by Tregear, and the name recalls that of a Fijian god called Matawalu, who had eight eyes, denoting wisdom, for which statement see Williams's Fiji and Fijians, vol. 1, p. 218. But as matavalu means "wise" in Fijian then such may be the general acceptance of the term, and not 'eight-eyed'. I incline to the rendering "Maui the wise" in connection with this title; it is equivalent to Maui-mohio, given above.
The Rev. W. D. Westervelt, in his Maui the Demi-god, mentions this title and alludes to eight-eyed Hindoo deities, also quoting Fornander as follows: "In Hawaiian mythology, Kamapuaa, the demi-god 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." (pp. 83-4). In Miss Henry's work Ancient Tahiti, p. 431 we find that, at Tahiti, Maui-potiki was also known as Maui-upo'o-Varu (Maui-upoko-waru in Maori) or eight-headed Maui. Eight heads do not agree with eight eyes, but rather seem to demand sixteen, and one marvels why such a personification as Maui should be endowed with eight heads. At Tahiti the father of the Maui brothers was Hihi-ra or Sun-ray, and Uahea was the mother (p. 408 of Miss Henry's work), but elsewhere (p. 352) we find a statement that the parents were Tangaroa and Uahea; Tangaroa is given as the father by some Maori tribes. Maui-taha, Maui-roto, Maui-poti'i and Maui-ti-iti'i appear in Tahitian recitals. A Rarotongan recital also mentions the eight heads of Maui, for which see the Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 8, p. 71, "History and Traditions of Rarotonga".
We have many stories concerning Maui hauling up far sundered isles from ocean depths, including New Zealand; we have also the various tales asserting that he was a denizen of the original homeland of the race, known as Hawaiki and Irihia (see Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 22, p. 5, and vol. 36,. p. 348). These stories are manifestly myths, and the later Maui, of the same name, and having four brothers bearing the same page 333names as those of Maui the first of the homeland, can scarcely be accepted as a real personage. Parallels of the Maui myths are found in many lands (see Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 20, p. 37 and vol. 23, p. 153), and the Polynesian sea strollers have carried their Maui tales far and wide; they are found, not only throughout Polynesia, but also in Melanesia.
As to the meaning of the Maui myths we have had many opinions expressed; some have viewed them as being superior sun myths, while others have seen them nought but puerile folk tales. In the latter cases most assuredly writers have not really studied the tales, have not obtained any insight into their origin; had they done so then they would certainly have recognised them as Nature myths. The story of the origin of fire, the connection between Maui and Hina the Moon Maid, the contest Maui and Hine of the realm of darkness and death, these and other such recitals lift the Maui myths out of the plane of puerility. We are told that, when Maui was slain by Hine-nui-te-po, it was not a case of permanent death, inasmuch as after a certain lapse of time he came to life again. Of course he did, for Day must succeed Night, and Darkness cannot annihilate Light.
In a paper on Maori myths published in vol. 30, pp. 51-2 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Tregear classifies the Maui tales as folk lore rather than myths, because they are recited as popular stories toward which no feeling of reverence is evinced. Later on, however, he admits that, when this aspect is thrust aside, they are seen to be Nature myths. They seem to have been looked upon as popular tales, korero purakau, and so are korero whaihanga or invented stories, but the few experts saw more than this in them. At the same time I am by no means sure that even the experts of later times really grasped all the inner meaning of such myths, that they were evolved in remote times in order to explain natural phenomena. Certainly such stories were always held to be extremely useful as developing memorising powers. As to the fishing up of New Zealand I have heard a Maori explain this matter by stating that Maui discovered this land, a statement that may well be doubtful.
The connection between Maui and Hina (female personified form of the moon) is most persistent throughout Polynesia. In various isles and groups Maui is said to have been the son, grandson, brother and husband of Hina. He is also said to have been a son of Tangaroa, of Irawhaki, of Makeatutara, of Taranga, of Mahuika, the last two named being females. In an east coast version of these Maui myths we are told that Hine-te-page 334waiwa, Hine-te-otaota, Hine-marekareka, Raukatauri and Raukatamea were sisters of the Maui brothers. The first of these names pertains to Hina, who is also known as Hine-te-iwaiwa, the others are not usually connected with Maui. Tregear gives Hina-te-otaota as another name for Hina, but in the version quoted above they appear as two distinct persons. He also refers to Maori versions in which Hina, Rohe, Raukura and Hine-a-te-repo are alluded to as wives of Maui. White gives many accounts of Maui, some consisting merely of a brief paragraph, and others have apparently been supplied by inferior authorities. A Ngaitahu version recorded by White gives Mahuika as the mother of Maui, and Teraka (Taranga) as his father, but Mahuika in most cases appears as his grandmother, as in the following example— though this is not in most cases the position of Hina; the above is given by Wohlers, a South Island collector. Maui appears as a grandson of Hina in one Hawaiian record. Maori versions usually give Taranga as the mother of Maui, but a few tales collected by White refer to Taranga as the father of Maui; these were Ngaitahu and Ngati-Hau versions. All east coast tribes seem to view Taranga as a female, and some Ngati-Kahungunu versions gives Irawhaki as her husband—
Makeatutara is often given as the father of Maui in our local versions, but occasionally Tangaroa takes that place; the Matatua folk give Tangaroa-i-te-rupetu as his full name; Pani-tinaku, sister of Tangaroa became the foster mother of the Maui brothers after the death of their mother. As a rule Tangaroa is not connected with Maui in New Zealand, but Rarotongan myth makes Maui the son of Tangaroa and Ataranga, the Maori page 335Taranga. In the Tongan groups there seems to have been some connection between Maui and Tangaroa, but to the latter was assigned the sky, and to Maui the underworld. At Tonga there seem to have been three "Maui", sons of Maui-motua, and one of the three was Maui-atalanga, the father of Maui-kijikiji (Maui-tikitiki), this latter being the wonder worker, as in New Zealand.
A Rarotongan legend cited in Smith's Hawaiki, p. 153 has it that the mother of Maui was Vaine-uenga, and Te Ranui of Tuhoe gave Uenga and Tauranga as the parents of Maui, although Tutaka of the same tribe gave Uenga as a child of Maui and Marewa-i-te-rangi.
As a variant of the above myth concerning Pani, old Tamarau Waiari of Tuhoe stated that Pani was the second name of Taranga. Yet another version makes Pani the wife of Maui who was interfered with by Tuna, and Pani was the 'mother' of the kumara or sweet potato. A brief note concerning Pani is given in Wade's Journey in the Northern Island of New Zealand (p. 94). The expression kura a Maui, applied to the sweet potato, has not been explained; it may be concerned with Rongomai, said to have been a husband of Pani, and who may or may not be one and the same as Maui-potiki; from another aspect Rongomaui seems to be more closely allied to Rongo-maraeroa.
There is a curious old Polynesian myth that seems to connect our Maui with Rongomaui. This is given by Lesson in Les Polynesiens, vol. II, p. 476, and is to the effect that Tikitiki, as Maui is called at some isles, went to the spirit world to ask Tangaroa for a gift of taro, a prized food product. The gift was refused, hence Maui-tiki tiki purloined a piece thereof and concealed it in his ure (urethra) and so brought it back to this world, where it was cultivated, and flourished. Now the same story is told by the Maori of New Zealand as pertaining to Rongomaui, who ascended to the heavens in order to obtain the kumara or sweet potato from Whanui (the Star Vega). His request was not granted, hence he concealed a piece of tuber in his ure and brought it down to earth, where his wife Pani produced and fostered the 'sweet potato children' as the tubers are called in the tale.
A curious sentence occurs in White's Ancient History of the Maori (vol. 2, p. 90) to the effect that one of his eyes resembled the eel, and the other was like greenstone. The meaning of this sentence is obscure, it may have been intended to explain that both eyes were of a greenish colour, or that one was green and the other blue.page 336
The whare wananga or house of learning, the repository of occult lore known as Taururangi is said to have been the domain of the five Maui brothers; it was apparently situated in the old racial homeland of the Polynesian folk, wherever that may be.
The lines of descent from Maui given by natives differ widely in length, that is in the number of generations, and many of them have been given by poor authorities. One of fifty generations from Maui-potiki before me was contributed by a Kahungunu expert, who gave another of forty-nine generations from Maui-taha, and one of fifty from Maui-pae. Another gave a line of sixty generations from Maui-potiki. It is not necessary to give these lines here, a number of them have been recorded; two given by Tuhoe folk are thirty and forty generations; thus the half-dozen here mentioned range from thirty to sixty generations! In their earlier parts these lines of descent are, I am assured, entirely mythical, but some appear to be fairly reliable for the last twenty generations or so. This does not apply to such lines as were collected from the Matatua tribes. A Kahungunu line from Maui-mua gives forty-seven generations, another from Maui-pae only thirty-seven. It is a mistake to rely upon these mythical (in their earlier parts) lines of descent as a means of fixing incidents in Polynesian history.
Williamson, in his work Social and Political Systems of Central Polynesia, vol. 1, p. 91, refers to Maui's connection with volcanoes, but this is not in evidence in Maori myths. Maui procured fire for mankind from Mahuika, but it was not volcanic fire, indeed it had been derived from above, that is from the sun. In these tales of the Maori whenever the simple form Maui is employed we are to understand that the youngest of the brothers is meant, Maui-potiki or Maui-tikitiki.
It will be seen that the Maui myths of these isles comprise a number of stories in which Maui appears as the hero, and that there is little connection between the different tales. In very few cases, if any, has a Maori narrator given the whole of these different tales or incidents, one or more are usually omitted; in many cases a narrator is not acquainted with all of them, or has perchance but a partial knowledge of some of the incidents.
The following are the principal incidents in the life of Maui, as given by our Maori folk:
Birth and childhood of Maui.
Maui as a dart thrower.
Maui descends to the underworld.
page 337 Maui and Mahuika.
Maui invents barbed hook and spear.
Maui invents baffling entrance to eel and crayfish pots.
Maui snares the sun.
Maui and Irawaru.
Maui and Rohe.
Maui, Hina and Tuna.
Maui, Tangaroa and Mokoroiata.
Maui pulls up land from ocean depths.
Maui encounters Hine-nui-te-po.
Here we have thirteen prominent incidents, and these will be explained in the various versions given, as also some minor incidents.
In the following account of our Maui myths references are made to the different versions collected from the Maori folk of New Zealand, and, in some cases, to others collected in the far distant isles of Polynesia. There is, apparently, no proper order to be preserved in the arrangement of most of the various stories, different narrators differ as to the order of sequence, save that, as is but natural, all commence with the account of the birth of Maui and of his marvellous adventures in his infancy and youth. The dart throwing contest often follows the above, but is sometimes omitted and the descent of Maui to the underworld often appears early in the recital. Naturally the account of his death comes last.
The Birth of Maui-potiki and his Youthful Adventures
The name Maui-potiki stands for Maui the younger; his other title of Maui-tikitiki was derived from the fact that, in infancy he had been wrapped in his mother's tikitiki or girdle. This lastborn of the Maui brothers was a case of premature birth, and, in one version of the tale, we are told that his mother, Taranga, wrapped the embryo in her girdle and cast it into the ocean. In another version we are told that Maui-potiki was born immature after twelve nights of labour on the Mutuwhenua or thirtieth night (day) of the lunar month called Taperewai, September, or October. The lifeless embryo was conveyed by attendants of the sacred place of Wharaurangi to the cave wherein lay the bones of Muri-rangawhenua, forebear of Maui, and there deposited. That cave was situated at Kowhao-nui of Mokomokouri on the reef or rockbound coast of Maruaroa.
The Mokomokouri mentioned above was the brother of Taranga, uncle of the Maui brothers. When walking the beach one day this Moko' observed before him the phenomenon known as karoirangi, parearohi, arohirohi, and the "dancing of page 338Tanerore", the shimmering appearance of heated air as seen in summertime. As he advanced he noted that the koroirangi did not recede or disappear, but maintained its position at a certain spot on the "Strand at Haumiri". He reached that spot and saw a quivering mass of jellyfish and sea foam in which he found an infant lying. He picked up the infant and bore it to his home at Tapu-te-ranga*, where he said to his wife: "Here is our child, tend it carefully as a child for us two."
At a certain time the child was conveyed to the water, and their foster child was baptised and named, for the familiar spirit of the priestly expert had said: "Call your child Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga". This name was approved of by Moko', for it included the name borne by his nephews, and included the tikitiki of his sister Taranga, and thus it was that Maui the younger received his name.
In one version the story of Maui returning to his mother's home is omitted, but it appears in a second version. In this latter version we are told that there were six of the Maui brothers, their names being Maui-mua, Maui-taha, Maui-roto, Maui-pae, Maui-waho and Maui-tikitiki, also known as Maui-potiki. The name of Maui-waho is one that is but seldom included. This version states that Taranga conveyed the embryo to the seaside where she pierced a hole in the hollow stem of a piece of rimurapa kelp, thrust the embryo into the hollow, closed up the aperture, and then cast the kelp stem into the deep pool of Marau. Taranga then indulged in a declamatory address and so farewelled the embryo, consigning it to the weird, supernormal beings who dwell in vast ocean spaces, and to Hine-moana, the Ocean Maid, to the Wind Children who ever roam the plaza of Hine-moana.
The receptacle employed for the embryo is referred to as a tikitiki in the narrative, albeit it certainly was not a girdle. So the immature Maui was swept away out into the vast water desert of Mahora-nui-atea, where he was tended and nurtured by strange beings. When well grown he was brought back by those beings and deposited on the strand at Te Rehu, enveloped in sea foam and a jelly-like substance as a means of protecting him from the attacks of sea birds. He was there found by one Timutahi, who, from an elevated spot, saw sea birds hovering over some object page 339on the beach; he there found Maui lying among the sea wrack and so conveyed him to the place of rites and there the pure ceremony was performed over him; he was then taken to the fireside and warmed thereat after his exposure. The people tended him and reared him until he was able to take his part in the sport of the village lads.
A third version states that the embryo was deposited in a cave at "te akau roa a Maura", the name of which cave was Kowhaonui o Mokomokouri. Then Moko', prompted thereto by a strange visitant, went to the strand at Haumiri and found Maui enveloped in sea foam; he then took Maui and put him under the care of his wife, Mauimui. It was Tawhirimatea, the familiar atua of Moko', who gave Maui his name when the tua rite was performed over him at the stream at the Auroa.
In the version collected by Grey, Maui himself tells briefly the story of his birth, how he was enveloped in seaweed, how he was returned to land by the Wind Folk enveloped in sea wrack, assailed by birds, flies and then rescued by Tama-nui-ki-te-rangi.
The Tuhoe account of Maui relates that, as she was traversing the waterside at Owainewha one day Taranga cast away the poke toto or embryo after wrapping it in pieces of aute bark cloth used in tying up her hair. Strange beings of the ocean, Karumoana and others, conveyed the embryo to Muri-rangawhenua, at Awaroa, where the developing Maui was cradled in ocean foam and nurtured by weird denizens of the rolling water desert of Hine-moana.
The South Island version given by Wohlers has it that the embryo was taken away by Mu and Weka and developed into a human being. Then Ao-nui and others, personified forms of clouds, conveyed Maui to the heavens, where he dwelt with Maru-te-whareaitu. Other versions tell us that the elders of Maui who reared him in the ocean solitudes were Ngaru-nui, Ngaru-roa (personified form of waves), Tangaroa, Rongomai-tahanui, Te Petipeti, etc., beings connected with the ocean.
Maui as a Dart Thrower
The next incident in the life of Maui to be explained would appear to be his return to his mother and brothers, but in some cases this is preceded by the account of the dart throwing contest. page 340One recital explains that, when Maui was enabled to take part in the sports of the village lads, news came of a dart throwing contest about to be held at "te one i Haumiri", the strand at Haumiri. Maui followed others who were on their way to the meeting place, at which place was the home of Taranga and the Maui brothers, and now Maui-tikitiki heard others being addressed by his own name. The brothers of Maui took part in the contest, and after some time the cast made by one Turongorau was marked by means of a stick, as being the longest cast yet made. All now strove to surpass the effort of Turongorau, but failed to exceed it, until the unknown Maui said: "Come now, let me have one of your darts." Having secured a dart he said to Maui-pae: "Now lie down on the ground, face downward." Then Maui so cast his dart that it struck and glanced off the back of Maui-pae, then darted afar off until it passed far beyond the peg marking the throw of Turongorau. A clamour of applause rose, and then every effort was made to beat the throw made by Maui-tikitiki, but this no person could do.
Maui-mua then said to our hero: "Let us proceed to the village and partake of a meal." On reaching the home of Taranga, Maui-mua enquired: "What is your name?" Replied our hero: "It is Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga." Now Taranga overheard this reply, and so enquired: "Where are you from?" Tikitiki replied: "I am from a far land." "What is your name?" "It is Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga." Then said Taranga: "I have no child so named"; then she enquired: "Who is your mother?" Tikitiki replied: "You yourself." Again the old woman spoke: "I have no children other than Maui-mua, Maui-roto, Maui-taha, and Maui-pae, that is all." Said Tikitiki to his mother: "Now I am Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga. Your people conveyed me to the cave of Kowhaonui where my grandfather Muri-rangawhenua lay, on the coastline of Maruaroa." Then Taranga spoke: "It is true you are truly mine, an immature child of mine." Now the old woman and her offspring rejoiced at this finding of the young brother. Here ends this branch of our discourse of Maui-tikitiki.
The second version of the above tale is much the same as the above, but, when about to cast his dart, Maui-potiki induces all his brothers to lie face downward and so serve as a substitute for the earthen mound from which dart throwers caused their darts to glance off. This act of Maui in so casting his dart as to glance off the backs of his brothers was the origin, we are told, of the tawhanga or hollow seen in the back of man of today. In a Ngati-Awa (Bay of Plenty) version Maui casts a dart in order to page 341discover the way by which Pani descended to the underworld. Here Pani takes the place of Taranga; Pani was the foster mother of the Maui brothers.
The most frequently heard version of the recognition of Maui by his mother tells of his arrival at his mother's home and of his mingling with her four sons. When, as was her nightly custom, she counted her children, she found one too many, and so asked him who he was. But Maui concealed himself at this juncture, in the Matatua version, and so the mother's next counting was satisfactory. He then confused her for some time by alternatively showing and concealing himself, and so he commenced to earn that reputation for mischief and deceit that brought to him the title of Maui-nukarau.
In another version we see that Maui-mua proposed that Maui-tikitiki should accompany the brothers to their home at the conclusion of the dart throwing contest. When they arrived at Taranga's home at Opourua there stood the whare rehia or house in which games and pastimes were indulged in; as the shades of night fell the people of the hamlet entered this house and gave themselves up to its pleasant pursuits. When Taranga entered the house she enquired: "Who is your guest?" And one replied: "Oh! This is the expert dart thrower; he it was who cast our darts and defeated all others. In no case was another person able to cast his dart as to reach the place where ours fell when cast by him." Then occurred the conversation between Maui and his mother, as given, above, and the account of Taranga's recognition of her son.
Taranga and Maui Descend to the Underworld
The account of this episode in the life of Maui is a fairly full one. When Maui-tikitiki had sojourned a while with his kindred he found that Taranga merely passed the night with her sons, she was always absent during the daytime; he asked his brothers as to where she sojourned during her absence. They replied: "Who knows, possibly below, perchance above." Maui then bethought him of a plan whereby he might find out where his mother went to as day approached; he busied himself in plugging all interstices through which a ray of light migaht enter their house, and the name of that house, to some authorities, was Whare-atea. When his task was finished he proposed to his mother that they sleep together, in the same part of the house, and to this his mother page 342consented, wishing to be near her youngest child. So they slept together, and, when his mother's sleep was sound, then Maui took her garment, a kilt, and concealed it, so that she might not find it readily. In the morning she awoke, and called: "It is breaking day, is it not?" but Maui replied: "Sleep on, dawn is yet afar off." Whereas day had long dawned, though the house interior was in darkness still. When, at last, Taranga prepared to depart she missed her garment, but at length found it beneath her sleeping mat; she hastily donned it and left the house. Watching her closely Maui saw her proceed to a clump of the plant called mata or toetoe mata (Gahnia lacera) which she pulled up; she then descended into the hole so disclosed, and, replacing the plant, was seen no more.
Maui now left the house and proceeded to the place where Taranga had disappeared; he pulled up the mata plant, saw a hole extending down into the underworld, and saw also a sun shining in that world. Maui-tikitiki then returned and consulted his brothers: "O friends! To which of us shall be assigned the task of entering Rarohenga (the lower world)." They replied: "It is for you to tread the underworld, you, over whom the power-giving tohi rite has been performed; as for us, only an inferior ceremony was performed over us." Maui-tikitiki consented to this arrangement, and so proceeded to the cave wherein lay the bones of his forebear Muri-ranga-whenua, the cave of Kowhaonui. Here he laid himself, face downward, on the bones of his grandfather, Muri-rangawhenua, and so recited an invocation to the spirit of his forebear. Maui seems to have sought the power of transforming himself into a bird, and his reclining on the tapu and mana -giving bones of his grandparent would render his invocation effective. As he concluded his recital he saw a pigeon alight upon a pole supporting the cerements of the remains of Muri; and the plumage of that bird was entirely white. As Maui gazed at the bird the thought struck him that here was a suitable form for him to assume, inasmuch as it was the power of his charm that had caused the bird to appear. He then took the bird in his hand and recited over it a charm to enable him to assume its form; that formula I am not able to give said my informant having forgotten certain parts thereof. (Here one Kukutai interposed and suggested that the reciter should substitute and recite some other formula, but the old pundit would have nothing to do with such slipshod proceedings, and declined to vitiate the injunctions and methods of his forebears. He remarked that, although the Maui tales are but second class matter, yet they should be page 343correctly given as handed down, and not altered or added to in any way. He specially warned his hearers against falsifying such traditionary matter, and concluded with the remark: "Should you pursue falsehood and indulge in imagination then the eyes and ears of men in council will be closed to you, and, ever remember this; the burden of the falsifier is shame.")
As Maui finished his recital the voice of the pigeon said to him: "Return to your hut and await the arrival of Taranga; when she comes ask her: "Old lady, where is the place to which you go?" She will tell you, then ask her: "Where is the way to your other home and by what means, or in what form, do you reach it?" Let your questions then cease, and, if she is in the habit of going away at dawn, just conceal her garment." Maui-tikitiki agreed to this procedure and so returned to his house named the Ahorangi, at Wharaurangi, for such was the name of their home; the house of the elder brothers of Maui was named Paparoa. When Maui-tikitiki arrived at Wharaurangi he found that Taranga had returned home to visit the brothers, and she enquired: "Where have you been?" Tikitiki replied: "I have just been strolling about the beach absorbing the cool sea breeze as a means of averting the feeling of lonesomeness that afflicts me; it is a habit of wifeless men to wander about where females congregate." Said the mother: "Secure a wife for yourself." Maui-tikitiki replied: "Let us leave that matter be until I have reached maturity … then will I attend to selecting a wife." The mother agreed with this and the twain retired to rest, and the mother, loosening her kilt, named Hopuata, placed it under the sleeping mat. Then Maui questioned his mother as follows: "Old lady, where is your other home where you absent yourself?" The mother replied: "In the underworld of Rarohenga." "And where lies the way to your home?" Said the mother: "By way of Poutere-rangi; the passage of Tahekeroa under the surveillance of your elder, Te Kuwatawata." Then Tikitiki enquired: "Now this form that you appear in when you visit us, is it in this form that you descend to the underworld?" Replied Taranga: "Not at all; this is my supernormal aspect, not a real human form."
When the broad light of day appeared then Taranga rose to don her garment. Maui filched away her kilt, named the Hopuata, and concealed it within his own garments. The old woman sought it in vain, it was not found, so she started off, and as she went Maui heard her saying: "I tau a Taranga ki te maro", which saying was quoted down the generations in the form—"I tau a Taranga ki te ruaro taupaki" Also given in the form of: "He page 344maro a Taranga i nawe ai." (By means of a kilt was Taranga rendered comely.)
When Taranga had departed then Tikitiki seized her kilt and proceeded to the cave of Kowhaonui on the coastline of Maruaroa, where the bones of the forebear lay. He entered the cave and again prostrated himself on the bones of the dead, where he recited the charm whereby to open a passage for himself down to Rarohenga, the underworld. Now again the pigeon alighted upon the pole rack supporting the garments of the dead man, and spoke to Maui, saying: "If you assume my form you will be enabled to reach the underworld." Maui decided to do so and so he took the form of a pigeon, and then suspended the kilt of Taranga from his neck, and that is why the beak of the pigeon is red and its neck of a reddish sheen; in the first place the pigeon was entirely white. It is but seldom that a white pigeon is seen in these times, and to see one is looked upon as an evil omen, misfortune will assail the person who sees it, or his relatives; such a bird is termed a manu tute.
Now when Maui had acquired the form of the pigeon he set off on his quest, and so arrived at Poutere-rangi, where he enquired of Te Kuwatawata, one of the children of Rangi and Papa: "Shall I be able to reach my destination in this form?" Te Kuwatawata replied: "You may so reach it, but be careful how you conduct yourself; are you Maui-tiki tiki?" Maui replied: "I am." The other remarked: "Be careful; your reputation is known here and in the lower world, you have need for caution." Maui enquired: "What is occurring in Rarohenga?" Te Kuwatawata replied: "The festivities pertaining to Rongo, indulgence in pastimes and divers pleasures suitable to summer months, to the season of Tama-nui-te-ra." So ended the explanatory remarks of Te Kuwatawata to Tikitiki.
Tikitiki now turned to the entrance to Rarohenga, the underworld, and began his descent. When he arrived at Mawhera he experienced a feeling of longing for his own people, but he had really reached the place where his mother, Taranga, was staying. Here he alighted upon a pohutukawa tree, where he was seen by the people of the place, and one said: "O! Here is a bird for me." Some seized spears and strove to slay the bird, but Maui avoided the spears by retiring to the summit of the tree. A man then ascended the tree in order to use his spear, whereupon Maui deftly dropped his faeces into the man's eye as he looked upward, and the man cried: "O! I have been defiled by the bird, " which made the people laugh. The bird now flew to another tree, a rata page 345tree, which the spearman then proceeded to ascend, but others said: "Let us capture it alive and keep it as a pet, for it is a new kind of bird." Now as the people stood beneath the tree looking upward at Maui, the faces of these folk were defiled by him in manner most effective; but it was noted that a human odour was evident, and not that pertaining to birds. Word reached Taranga that the strange bird showed certain human peculiarities that were puzzling, and she remarked: "Maybe that mischievous Maui has followed me."
Taranga then passed out through the entrance of the village, the name of which village was Haukoria, and called out: "Are you my child Maui-tikitiki?"whereupon Maui nodded his head. Then Taranga cried: "Come, reveal yourself to me." Then Maui flew down from the taupata (given as a rata tree above) and alighted on the shoulder of Taranga, who took him into the house Takapau-rangi; there to sojourn, and then it was that Maui resumed his human form. Taranga enquired: "Maybe you are hungry?" "I am", said Maui. Taranga remarked: "All the people of the village are engaged in lifting the sweet potato crop, and so there is no fire here whereat to prepare food for you."
Here the above account of Maui's descent to Rarohenga merges into the tale of his adventure with Mahuika the fire conserver, of which more anon. A further version of the underworld incident is less full than the above, but resembles it, and both emanated from Takitimu sources. Maui detains Taranga by the same trickery, and he recites a charm when pulling up the plant growth that conceals the passage to the underworld. In this version this passage to Rarohenga seems to be one and the same place as Poutere-rangi, at Hawaiki-nui; where lies the entrance to such passage, but in the first recital Maui appears to go afar off to reach Poutere-rangi; such discrepancies as these are common in Maori narratives. In the version given above Maui consults Timutahi as to the means by which he may descend to the underworld, and is told to assume the forms of Kerangi, Kuku and Karearea, the harrier, pigeon and sparrow-hawk. He is to descend to the underworld in the last mentioned form, to assume that of the pigeon while sojourning below, and that of the harrier when returning to the upperworld. Maui gives heed to the advice of Timutahi, he summons the three birds and descends as a sparrow-hawk. He finds the underworld a realm of light, a form of light much superior to that of this world, a phase of light described as maramatanga taiahoaho puratarata. He now assumes the form of the pigeon, and alights upon a page 346tawhangawhanga tree, whatever that may be; its berries are said to resemble those of the miro. He attracts attention to himself by throwing berries of the tree at the people below, and a woman cries out that she has been hurt by one of the berries so hurled. Another berry is thrown with such force by Maui that it knocks out the eye of a man below. Now the people seize stones and spears and endeavour to kill the bird, but Maui eludes them. Taranga hears that the eye of Kawe-raupara has been destroyed, and exclaims: "Possibly it is that scamp of a boy."
A third version of the above from a Wairarapa source speaks of Maui finding a sun shining in the lower world, and of people cultivating their crops there. In yet another Makeatutara is alluded to as the father or uncle (papa) of Maui, and Maui is said to have wrapped the red kilt or apron of Taranga round the neck of the pigeon, hence the bright plumage of that bird. We are not told what the red maro of Taranga was composed of. A Matatua version of the Maui myths contains an interesting and suggestive remark to the effect that Taranga dreaded sunlight. In this account we are told that Maui descended to Paerau, in the underworld, where he found the peoples known as Tini-o-te-Hakuturi and Tini-o-te-Mahoihoi engaged in planting the sweet potato crop. He transformed himself into a miromiro (a small forest bird) and perched on the crescent shaped upper end of a ko, or digging stick, where he sang a planting song containing his own name and those of his brothers and mother. The people began to cast stones at him, when he assumed the form of a pigeon and settled on a karaka tree, where he employed himself in throwing berries at his mother, Taranga. Maui was struck by a stone and fell to earth, where he resumed his human form; this occurred at Wai-kotukutuku. The Hakuturi and Mahoihoi folk mentioned are generally alluded to as being elfish denizens of the forest. A brief account of this incident contributed by Pakauwera of Ngati-Kuia follows closely the Matatua version. In another version from the Ngati-awa district Pani, aunt and foster mother of the Maui brothers, takes the place of Taranga. For the doings of Pani see No. 9 of this Bulletin series. When Maui wished to ascertain the way by which Pani descended to the underworld he cast a teka or dart over which he had recited an empowering charm. The dart struck a plant of Astelia that concealed the place of descent.
The version given by Grey in his Nga Mahinga (p. 15, et seq.) has a variant of the pigeon tale; the kilt of Taranga is said to have been maro waero of white dog's hair, hence the white plumage of page 347the pigeon below the dark neck ring that represents the tu (belt or girdle) of Taranga. The tree on which Maui alights in the underworld becomes a manapau. In this version both of Maui's parents frequent the underworld. Many other versions have been collected, in one of these the tree in the underworld becomes a puriri. The South Island version collected by Wohlers (see Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, vol. 7, p. 37, "Mythology and Traditions of the Maori") makes the Maui brothers the children of Teraka and Hina, the former being their father, while Hina is said to have been a daughter of Mahuika. Some of White's Maui recitals closely resemble those of Grey and Wohlers.
This strange story of the parents of the Maui brothers being denizens of the underworld reappears afar off in central Polynesia at the isle of Rakahanga. The folk of that isle tell us that Maui-mua, Maui-roto, Maui-potiki and Hina were the offspring of Tangaroa and Hina who dwelt in the underworld; this latter Hina was called Blind Hina. Maui-potiki played the same trick on his father at Rakahanga that he did on his mother in New Zealand, he concealed his kilt and so delayed his descent to the lower world when day came. Maui was able to descend to the underworld, where he restored the sight of Blind Hina; this bears the aspect of a sun myth, Maui restored light to the darkened moon (see Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 29, p. 89, "An old Tradition from Rakahanga Island"). It is interesting to note that the natives of Rakahanga have preserved a tradition to the effect that some of their ancestors were immigrants from New Zealand; see p. 55 of the before mentioned volume. Wyatt Gill gives some data concerning Maui at Rakahanga at p. 146 of vol. 24 of the same Journal, in his translation, "The Origin of the Island Manihiki".
In Folk Lore March 1921, p. 45, Mr Collocott gives the Tongan version of the Maui myths in which we recognize a number of the far spread incidents so well known in New Zealand. There were, he tells us, five Maui; these all dwelt in the underworld, their names being Maui-Motua, Maui-Loa, Maui-Buku, and Maui-Atalanga, while the fifth, Maui-Kijikiji, was the son of Maui-Atalanga, which a Maori would give as Maui-a-Taranga. These two Maui, father and son, ascended to the upper world and abode at Vavau, but occasionally Atalanga, the father, revisited the underworld, leaving his son Kijikiji (our Maori Tikitiki) at Vavau. The latter at last resolved to follow and watch his father, who disclosed the entrance to the underworld by pulling up a page 348bunch of reeds. Maui found his father at work, then ascended a tree and attracted his father's attention by throwing fruit of the tree at him. Atalanga sent his son to procure fire from the old man Maui-motua, who was the father of Atalanga and who here takes the place of Mahuika. Here the story of obtaining fire several times comes in, then the struggle for fire in which Maui the fire seeker defeats Maui the fire conserver and carries off the coveted fire. On hearing that his own father had been left for dead by his own son, Atalanga slew Kijikiji, but both were later restored to life. Atalanga then tried to destroy, by means of rain, the fire brought by his son into the upper world, but young Maui caused the fire to take refuge in certain trees. The next incident described in the paper is the raising of the sky, but this was performed by Maui-atalanga.
Maui and Mahuika
We have seen that when Taranga proposed to provide Maui with a meal in the underworld, she found that there was no fire available in the village. It was then that Maui remarked: "When I was perched up on yon tree I saw smoke arising from the hill yonder." Taranga replied: "That fire belongs to your ancestor Mahuika; it is not possible for any person of this community to procure any of that fire." Said Maui: "I will procure it." Taranga remarked: "Not so; do not go thither to practise your tricks on your forebear." Maui replied: "I will not act in that manner."
So Maui set off, and, on his arrival, found Mahuika in his house Tuatarangi, and he called out to Maui: "Come hither, lad, welcome. How comes it that you are seen here?" Maui replied: "I am here to procure for myself food-preparing fire." The old man enquired: "Who are you?" Maui replied: "I am Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga.". The elder bowed his head and said: "Here is your fire", at the same time plucking off his thumb to serve as fire. Maui then came away, and, on reaching a certain stream named Taiau, he dipped the fiery thumb in the water, and so extinguished it. Maui then returned to Mahuika, and said: "O sir! I fell into the stream Taiau and the fire you gave me was extinguished. His elder then gave him Koroa (forefinger) as fire, page 349and again Maui came away, and, on arriving at the stream Taiau, he again extinguished the fire. Once more he returned, and said: "O sir! Again the fire given to me by you has been extinguished." The old man remarked: "O lad! What was the cause of your fire being extinguished?" "I saw a fish in the stream and hastily strove to cast the fire to the bank thereof, but it fell in the water and so was extinguished" The elder said to him: "O lad! I am aweary of your pranks." Mahuika then gave to Maui Manawa, yet another finger, at the same time saying: "Now go, but trifle not with the fire just given to you or assuredly you will arouse the dread powers represented by myself, Mahuika; remember that the subterranean fire of Ruaumoko is never extinguished."
Maui again came away, and, at the Taiau stream, again threw the fire, that is Manawa, into the water. Again he returned to the precincts of his elder, and said to him: "O sir! This is my final returning to you, but my fire has again been extinguished in the stream of Taiau; I chanced to stumble and so fell into the stream and lost my fire." Mahuika now said: "Your reputation has already reached the lower world, you are noted for your deceitful trickery." The elder was now angered, and continued: "But one form of fire will I now give you, and that is the fire that abides in earth and stone." He then cast at Maui the subterranean form of fire that he had contained in a vessel; thus was it that that devastating form of fire was freed.
Maui then assumed the form of Popoia, the owl, and was very nearly caught in the flames, so he took the form of the sparrow-hawk. Again the fire of Mahuika pursued him, and again Maui, in the form of Karearea, narrowly escaped, whereupon he changed his form to that of Kerangi the harrier (kahu), he who sails through the wide spaces. But the fire became fiercer, more rampant, and the flames leaped high in pursuit of Maui in his bird form, hence Maui was forced to call upon his ancestors, upon Ihorangi, offspring of Tuanuku and Ranginui, and others. Those beings sent fine rain, and then heavy rain to succour Maui in his dire distress, and so the raging fire of Mahuika was baffled, defeated, destroyed. All that escaped were mere sparks, and these found refuge in the earth, in stones, and in trees.
In the above version of the myth Mahuika appears as a man, but in New Zealand is usually said to be a woman. In one version the narrator first alludes to Mahuika as a male, and then later as a female. This second version is merely an abbreviated form of the one given above. The terms Tahukumia, Tahurangi and Waikumia are used to denote the place of the pursuit of Maui by page 350the fire of Mahuika and the scorching process that he was subjected to. The brown feathers of the hawk, sparrow-hawk and owl are said to be the result of the scorching that Maui received when he was flying from the fire of Mahuika. Te Ihorangi and Tawhiri-matea are said to have pulled out the "puru-o-Mahutonga", the plug that confines the winds, gales and rain squalls of the cold, boisterous south; and so those released rains saved Maui. Waiharorangi and Matawhiti-o-Tu are two other names applied to this adventure.
Some versions of the above myth have it that Maui extinguished all the fires of the village so as to render necessary a visit to Mahuika, this rendering appears in Grey's version, wherein the fire conserver figures as an old woman. Here also we note that Mahuika commenced with her little finger when giving fire to Maui, and that, having exhausted her fingers to satisfy the repeated demands of Maui, she began to pluck off her toes for the same purpose. When but one toe, a big one, remained, she employed the fire thereof to destroy Maui, and then the land, the waters, the forest all took fire and produced a raging furnace. Maui called upon Whaitiri and Tawhirimatea' for aid, and they sent Uanui and Uaroa (personified forms of rain) to save him, and so Mahuika, in her turn, was sore beset, and compelled to cast the remnants of her fire into the kaikomako tree, where it yet abides, as we know full well. In another version we see that—"Ka kuhu a Mahuika ki roto i a Kaikomako raua ko Totara" (Mahuika thrust herself into Kaikomako and Totara). The two trees named have ever since conserved the seed of fire for mankind.
Some versions have it that Maui employed magic charms whereby to prevent others obtaining fire from Mahuika. The hinahina or mahoe and the patate are two other trees in which fire is said to have taken refuge when the fire of Mahuika was defeated by the rain folk. Had the remnants of fire not so found a refuge in trees and in Rakahore (stone, rock) then all fire would have been lost, and mankind would be fireless. It is noticeable that some narrators tell us that Mahuika cast the remnants of fire into trees, while others say that Mahuika concealed herself in such trees. This later is the truer form, inasmuch as Mahuika personifies fire. Mahuika first cast the fire into several trees that would not retain it; but finally found trees that would receive it. A remark made by Wiwi of Pipiriki was to the effect that Hine-kaikomako was the mother of Mahuika, and certainly she acted as a mother toward the stricken and harassed fire conserver.page 351
The Matatua version of this fire myth speaks of Maui as the slayer of the Fire Children of Mahuika. Prior to visiting Mahuika Maui extinguished all fires at the village, and, when a person was ordered to procure fire from Mahuika, then Maui recited a charm that caused the messenger selected to be stubborn and to refuse duty. Thus he prevented messengers obtaining fire, and, by repeated visits to Mahuika, he managed to destroy Takonui, Takoroa, Mapere, Manawa and Toiti, the five children of Mahuika. Then Mahuika despatched the fire of Tapeka, subterranean fire, to destroy Maui, and so on, as related already. Then great trouble came to all mankind, for all domestic fires had been extinguished, and the Fire Children had been slain by Maui. Fire was sought far and wide but never found, until at length, the fire seekers went to Ira and asked him to reveal the source of fire. He replied: "Fire is with Hine-kaikomako." So it was that fire was procured from the body of Hine, and Ira has since been known as Ira-whaki, or Ira the Revealer. The Matatua folk state that Ira took Hine-kaikomako to wife.
A South Island version of the myth, as collected by Wohlers, agrees closely with the North Island story; this same version appears in vol. 2 of White's Ancient History of the Maori, p. 69; another, given me by Pakauwera of Ngati-Kuia, is also much the same. A saying pertaining to Maui in connection with his adventure with Mahuika is "Ko Maui tinetinei ahi"—Maui the fire extinguisher. References to these pranks and weird acts of Maui are noted in many songs.
The Moriori folk of the Chatham Islands had their version of the Maui myths, and these, as collected and recorded by Mr Shand, show us a list of five Maui brothers, but Maui-potiki and Maui-tikitiki-o-te-rangi are given as two distinct persons, while Maui-pae does not appear. These five Maui were the children of one Tahiri-mangatea. Mahuika appears as Mauhika in the Moriori recital, which is much the same as that of New Zealand. Mauhika cast the remnants of fire, represented by the little finger, into certain trees, likewise into stone.
In the Cook Group Mahuika is known as Mauike, and her daughter is Pere, the Pele of the Hawaiians. Maui obtained fire from Mauike and placed it in trees. This story, as given at pp. 73-74 of vol. 8 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society is a somewhat rambling one, and hales Maui to the Hawaiian Isles and eastern Polynesia. In the Rev. W. W. Gill's Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, pp. 51-58, we are told that Mauike dwelt page 352in the underworld, while Maui of the upper world was really the child of two other denizens of the underworld, Ru and Buataranga. The latter was the mother of Maui, and occasionally visited him in the upper world; she took cooked food with her when visiting her son, and this caused Maui to seek fire, as the cooking of food was then unknown in this world. Maui descended to the underworld in the form of a pigeon and found his mother, after which he went to Mauike to obtain fire. Here comes in the tale of his repeatedly extinguishing the fire and so enraging the fire guardian; a fierce contest ensued and Maui finally defeated Mauike and obtained the secret of fire generation. This same work gives some account of the Maui myths as retained at Manihiki island, wherein Maui asked his grandmother Hina who the lord of fire was and was informed that his grandfather, Tangaroa held that position. Maui set off to crave fire from Tangaroa, and extinguished several times fire so obtained, after which he obtained the secret of fire making and slew Tangaroa.
At Samoa the introduction of fire is assigned to Ti'iti'i (Tikitiki), a son of Talanga, the Taranga of New Zealand, and it was this Ti'iti'i who obtained fire from Mafuie, who controlled earthquakes and fire in the underworld. Here again a furious combat is said to have taken place between the fire seeker and Mafuie, ending in the discomfiture of the latter. At Niue Maui is said to have obtained fire from the underworld by stealth. The Samoan version is referred to at p. 107 of vol. 6 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, where Maui is termed Ti'i-a-Talanga, and Mafuie appears more correctly as Mafui'e. In vol. 29 of the same Journal, p. 147, is a brief reference to this myth as retained at Fakaofo isle in the Tokelau group. A blind woman named Mafuike guarded fire in the underworld, and a man named Talanga descended thereto and obtained the gift of fire from its guardian. In vol. 32, p. 153 of the same Journal, Burrows gives a different version of this Fakaofo story, in which one Lu, son of Iikiiki (Tikitiki) assails Mafuike and forces him to give up the secret of fire. At Tonga Maui-tikitiki appears under the name of Kijikiji and again succeeds in obtaining fire.
In vol. 4 of the same Polynesian Journal, pp. 188-9, Christian gives a brief account of the Marquesan story of Maui and Mahuike. Maui descended to the underworld to seek his father Ihiauau, and there met Hina, a daughter of Mahuike; he succeeded in obtaining the desired fire, though he served Mahuike roughly and left him a harmless ogre. The Hawaiian version of our myth is well given by Westervelt in his Maui the page 353Demi-god, pp. 61-4, and in it Hina appears as the mother of Maui. In the Society Isles Hina sends Maui to the underworld to procure fire from Tangaroa.
Maui and Hina
We have already noted the close connection between Maui and Hina, and the interesting aspect of that connection; it may serve a useful purpose to bring more references to it together. In different tales of divers isles Maui appears as the son, the grandson, the brother, and husband of Hina. In some tales of the Polynesian area no relationship between the twain is mentioned. At Hawaii we are told that Hina was the mother of the seven Maui brothers (Journal-of the Polynesian Society, vol. 21, p. 96). Wohlers, in his South Island (N.Z.) tradition gives Hina as the mother of Maui, and Raka or Ranga as his father. This latter name is evidently meant for Taranga which appears as Te Ranga in some published local versions. Taranga appears as Kalana at Hawaii, where Hina, the mother of Maui, is said to have been a daughter of Mahuie (= Mahuike = Mahuika). At Mangaia, Manihiki and New Zealand, Hina appears as the sister of Maui. A Takitimu authority gave Hine-te-iwaiwa (another name of Hina or Hina-te-iwaiwa), Hine-te-otaota, Hine-marekareka, Raukatauri and Raukatamea as sisters of Maui. At Tahiti and the Marquesas Hina is said to have been the wife of Tiki. Hina also appears as the wife of Maui in Polynesia, and wife of Maui and sister of Irawaru in New Zealand, and again as the daughter of Mahuika, and the mother of the Maui brothers. Such confusion is probably owing or partially so, to our having collected data from many inferior authorities.
In An Account of New Zealand by the Rev. W. Yate, 2nd ed., 1835, the author tells us that Maui, his wife Hina, and his brother Taki dwelt on a barren rock in the ocean (see p. 142 of Yate's work). Curiously enough this narrative is given in Maori in vol. 2 of White's Ancient History of the Maori, pp. 80-82, a work that appeared in 1887. Much Polynesian data concerning Hina is on record in the Journal of the Polynesian Society and in Gill's Myths and Songs from the South Pacific.page 354
Some of the tales concerning Maui are not commonly heard; they are often omitted from recitals contributed by natives. Thus we but occasionally hear of Maui's connection with the winds; he seems to have confined them within caves, and to have released them occasionally for special purposes; the one wind that baffled him was the west wind, which same he long strove to confine and control. This account was first collected by Yate the missionary in his work An Account of New Zealand, and it includes the peculiar statement that one of Maui's eyes resembled an eel and the other was like greenstone (see p. 144). This may have been remarked from the point of view of colour, though both eels and greenstone differ widely in colour.
As Maui possessed the power of transforming himself into any desired bird-form we need not be surprised that he had the power to ascend to the heavens, a claim that is supported by a Rakahanga tradition (Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 24, pp. 148-155).
A Maori recounting the various acts of Maui stated that the first feat performed by that worthy was the invention of the baffling entrance to eel pots; his second feat was the making of the present form of bird spear; the third was the tatara, whatever that may be, a matter that I have never heard explained. The barb for fish hooks was his fourth invention, and his fifth act was the elongating of the legs of the crow by pulling them while his sixth was his ill treatment of Irawaru; the seventh was his ill treatment of Muri-rangawhenua, then came his prodigious task of hauling up the land, his persecution of Mahuika and his culminating adventure with Hine-nui-o-te-po. We shall see anon that my narrator omitted some of the feats of Maui in his list.
Maui invents the Barbed Hook and Spear
Maui went a fishing with his brothers, and was careful to furnish his hook with a barb, but his brothers had but plain, barbless hooks. This meant that fish escaped from the hooks of the latter, and only Maui was able to haul fish into their canoe. His brothers asked Maui-mohio to show them his hook, but he cunningly detached the barb thereof ere handing it to them. And all the Maui-wareware, the witless elder brothers, marvelled at the feats of Maui-mohio.page 355
Now the time came when all persons became busy at the task of taking birds, pigeons, parrots, the tui, and other birds that were taken by means of snaring and spearing. Maui-tikitiki set about the making of a bird spear for himself, and his mother enquired: "What are you making that for?" He told her that it was for spearing birds, and she asked him as to where there was a point for it, and he replied that he had one. His mother said: "You will not succeed in slaying any birds", and Maui remarked: "Just so, only your other children will succeed, I suppose", whereupon she corrected him for disparaging his brothers. When his spear was finished Tikitiki named it Muri-rangawhenua (after his grandfather). He then set off to the forest to spear birds and, in one day, he took so many birds that he could not possibly carry them all home to the village, thus it was that that form of spear became famous. Maui, when making a point for his spear, had closely observed the spines on the back of the tuatara lizard and so fashioned his spear point, and that is why the point of a bird spear is termed a tara, because it resembles the tara of a tuatara. In another version of the above story we are told that the Maui brothers went off to the forest and devoted a day to spearing birds. They speared many birds but lost them all, that is they transfixed them on their spear points, but the birds escaped in every case, the spear points being plain points, not barbed. So they returned home and told Taranga that they had not succeeded in securing any birds, which same birds when impaled on the spear points, wriggled off and escaped. Said Taranga to Maui-potiki: "Show me your spear that I may examine it." She looked at it and said: "No birds will be taken with such a spear as that; you should take as a model the barb that I carry with me." She then showed him that barb and he studied it closely, then he fashioned such a barb for his bird-spear point, and so the barbed point of such a spear is known as a kaniwha and tara. (A similar story to the above is told as connected with Tawhaki of the Awa folk of Whakatane, for which see my Tuhoe, p. 295.) Now it was that Maui-potiki succeeded in taking many birds by means of his spear with barbed point, and, long after, he disclosed to his brothers the secret of the barbed spear point, whereupon they, and all other folk, knew how to fashion effective barbed points for their bird spears. Yet another version of this tale tells how Maui kept a plain, barbless point attached to his spear, save when he was actually using it, and all to deceive his witless brothers. Another version confines the actors to Maui-atamai, or Clever Maui, and his brother-in-law Irawaru.page 356
Maui and the Crayfish Traps
This is another such story as that concerning the barbed spear point; we are told how Maui was the first to use a device that prevented the escape of crayfish from a trap when they had entered it. A similar story is told concerning the eel-pot and its retracted entrance.
Now on a certain day Tikitiki chanced to be watching his elder brothers and others as they were making traps wherein to capture the crayfish of the ocean. He observed that, in some traps, the entrance was at the side, while in others it was at the bottom, whereupon he remarked: "Your methods of making these taruke traps are quite wrong." His brothers replied: "Is it for you to condemn us and our work, you had better make one for yourself." So Tikitiki set to work on his trap, and left the entrance passage in the top, but did not make known the korohe or netted, bag-like adjunct that prevents trapped crayfish escaping. When they went and set their traps then Maui-tikitiki secretly attached the baffling net to the entrance passage of his own trap ere he set it in the ocean. In the morning the brothers and other persons went off to lift the trap pots, but Tikitiki slept on until his mother went to arouse him, when he said: "Why are you in such a hurry, let us wait until my trap is full ere we set forth with our attendants to carry home the catch." After some time the elder brothers returned and reported no catch, saying that no crayfish had been taken owing to the state of the sea. Said Maui-tikitiki: "Well, I will go and lift my trap." Then he set off, his mother and attendants accompanying him, she simply went to please him, but had no faith in his catching any crayfish. When they arrived at the place where he had set his trap he grasped the cord and strove to haul it to the surface, but he was utterly unable to do so. Then his mother and her attendants assisted in hauling the trap to land, where it was found to be absolutely full of crayfish; most of these were left in the trap, while some were taken home, and then Taranga and her attendants walked home with bowed heads, abashed by the astounding success of Tikitiki whom they had belittled. As for Tikitiki, he busied himself in removing and concealing the korohe net of his trap, lest the secret of his success become known. Now others set about making crayfish pots having the entrance funnel on the top, but still they did not succeed in catching any crayfish, whereupon the elder brothers went and examined by stealth the trap of Tikitiki when set in the sea, then at last it was seen that the attached net prevented the escape of the crayfish after they had entered the page 357trap and consumed the bait. Now it is clear to you how Maui was responsible for the efficacious usage of the crayfish pot, the means by which crayfish were taken in such traps.
The above account is a free rendering of my informants story; in a second recital, there is agreement with the above, save that the korohe netted fabric is termed the puhatero; another name for it seems to be tohe.
Maui and his Eel Pot
When Maui-mohio constructed an eel pot he attached a tohe thereto and so eels entering his pot could not escape therefrom; but Maui-wareware left the entrance to his trap an open passage, so that eels passed out again through the entrance funnel when the bait was consumed. Again Maui cunningly removed the obstructing net so that his brothers might not see it. They examined his pot but could see nothing peculiar about it and so asked him: "In what way was your pot used to cause it to retain the eels?": But he simply told them that it was used as they saw it; and so Maui-tikitiki came to be known as Maui-nukarau or Deceitful Maui. In another version of the story Maui-atamai, the clever one, leaves an aperture at the rear end of his trap whereby to take out any eels caught, and covers it with a wicker lid, but Maui-wareware the witless puts no such lid on his, and so loses all the eels that enter the pot.
The Maori mind seems to have ever been attracted by the study of causality, and hence the many origin myths of which we have a series in this paper, and which include these tales anent the barbed spear and hook, the eel pot and crayfish trap.
Maui snares the Sun
This was one of the most important of the tasks performed by Maui, inasmuch as it gave us the long satisfactory days that we now enjoy. When man was young upon the earth the sun moved across the heavens with great rapidity, and so the days were very short; men found that they had not sufficient time in which to perform daily tasks, and hence all were dissatisfied. Again, the nights were equally short, and so men had not sufficient rest and sleep. Then Maui bethought him of delaying the movement of the sun, so that it might move more slowly across the heavens. Even so it was decided to make strong ropes and so capture and control the sun; then all set to work at plaiting such ropes, and many different methods of plaiting were employed. When all was ready page 358Maui and his brothers set off and made their way to the place where the sun comes up out of the underworld, day after day they fared on until they came to the brink of the pit. Here they prepared their ropes, and formed nooses whereby to catch the sun; the brothers arranged themselves around the pit in readiness to snare the sun when it appeared. When the sun so emerged all cast their rope nooses and so captured the sun; some caught it by the head, and some snared the projecting rays. Now was Ra the sun securely held, and all set to work belabouring him until he cried for mercy; he was not released until he had promised to move more slowly in future; in one version we are told that some of the sun's rays were broken off in order to slacken his movements.
The Matatua folk contributed the following charm, said to have been recited by Maui when about to assault Tama-nui-te-ra, the shining sun. Such a charm is called a punga.
Te here, te Maui-mua, te Maui-roto, te Maui-pae, te Maui-taha, te Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga. Hai kona koe, e te ra! tu max ai; tu ki tupua, tu ki tahito, tu ki maneanea; ka notia, ka herea, ka whakamana.
The following is another version of the above punga charm employed to cause the sun to move slowly.
Te punga te kahukura uta, te kahukura tai
Hai kona ra koe, e te ra! Tu mai ai
Tu ki tapua, tu ki tawhito, tu ki maneanea.
It is not improbable that tupua and tawhito in the final line denote the two mountains of the old homeland so named.
Some versions of the above tale speak of the sun as a living, sentient being that wailed aloud when chastised and crippled by Maui, and also promised to move more slowly in future. Some others speak of the wings, not rays, of the sun being broken; one explains that the days were so short that, although people fired their ovens at dawn yet night arrived ere food was cooked; little wonder that the Maori folk wished the day to be lengthened. One tells us that Maui fastened a rope to the sun, the other end of the rope being secured to the moon, so that, when the sun sank below the earth, he pulled the moon up to give light to this world. Grey's version of this myth is the best yet published; it appeared in his Polynesian Mythology, pp. 22-3, and, in later years, was inserted in White's second volume, p. 93, Maori part.
When the Maui brothers were making the ropes whereby to capture the sun they are said to have invented the methods of page 359plaiting known as tamaka, paraha, kopuku and takawiri. The first of these is a round plait, the second a flat one, and the third probably a round one. One tale is that earlier ramparts were erected by the Maui brothers round the pit from which the sun emerged, possibly these were to protect them from the fierce heat of Tama-nui-te-ra. The South Island version, as recorded by Wohlers, is brief; Hina, the wife of Maui, would kindle her oven, and then ere the food was cooked, night had come, so that the meal was always eaten during hours of darkness; apparently there was time for one daily meal only in those remote days. When the sun besought Maui to release him Maui replied: "Tarry yet awhile, wait until the oven of Hina is cooked (Kia maoka te ownu pakipaki a Hind)".
In Gill's Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, pp. 61-3, we find the Mangaian version of this sun snaring feat of Maui's. Therein we find that the same perplexities vexed the sons of man, the days were too short to allow of the completion of daily tasks, and it took all day to cook a meal. The same means were taken for the purpose of capturing the sun; six ropes were made for the purpose of catching and holding the sun, and the personified sun agreed to adopt a "go slow" movement. A new detail is that the ropes were not detached from Ra when he was released, and, at dawn and sunset, they may still be seen hanging from him. A similar story is told in the Society and Hawaiian groups, and elsewhere throughout Polynesia. In a second version given by Gill we note that Maui failed to procure a rope strong enough to hold the sun until he made one from the hair of his sister.
The Tahitian version of the above story, as given by Miss Henry in Ancient Tahiti pp. 431-2, follows the New Zealand version closely. The days were so short that there was scarce time during daylight to cook a meal; something had to be done. Maui noticed that the sun had ten rays and so he procured ten ropes and tied the ten rays to a rock and so delayed its movement. In one version we are told that Maui made one of his ropes from the hair of his sister Hina and this was the only one that did not break. The ten ropes are suggestive and remind one of the ten children of Hina, apparently an allusion to the old ten-month year of Polynesian tradition.
Maui and Irawaru
We have now to deal with another of Maui's pranks; one of his impish tricks that seem to stand apart from such of his activities as page 360brought benefit to mankind, the lengthening of the day for example. We have not succeeded in seeing any meaning in the Irawaru story so far, but the three days swim of Hina evidently represents the absence of the moon during the dark nights of the hina-pouri phase of the orb. Grey's version of this Irawaru tale is about the best on record; it was reprinted by White at p. 115 of his second volume, Maori part. To outline the story, as given by Grey, we know that Hina was the sister of Maui, and that she bears two names, Hina-Keha and Hina-uri. The first of these names, Pale Hina, describes the illuminated moon while the second, Dark Hina, denotes its dark phase. This Hina was taken to wife by Irawaru. Upon a time Maui and Irawaru went fishing, the latter being successful while Maui caught nothing. Maui was puzzled at this until he examined the hook on Irawaru's line and found that it was barbed, while his own was barbless. Here the story clashes with another that tells us how Maui was the first to use a barbed hook. When they returned to land Maui told his companion to take his stand by the outrigger of the canoe as they prepared to haul it ashore. Maui then succeeded in hauling the canoe over his companion's body, whereby he injured him seriously; he then transformed him into a dog and returned home alone. His sister Hina asked where her husband was and Maui told her that he had remained at the canoe, telling her also that, if he did not appear when called by her, she should employ the cry used when calling a dog. When she did so then Irawaru, her husband, ran to her in the form of a dog.
Hina returned to her home in grief and prepared to leave it, calling upon the monsters of the deep to bear her away to the vast ocean spaces. She drifted out across that ocean until cast ashore on a far distant land, where she was found and tended by two men named Ihu-atamai and Ihu-wareware, Clever Ihu and Feckless Ihu. (It will be remembered that Maui the younger was styled Maui-atamai, and his elder brothers Maui-wareware.) These two men took Hina to wife, and she gave her name as Ihu-ngarupaea, thus describing herself as an ocean waif. Ere long the famous Tinirau (a being who represents fish, and who was a son of Tangaroa) heard of Hina, and so claimed her as a wife for himself and took her away to Motutapu, where, ere long, she gave birth to a child. Now Tinirau had two wives already, Harataunga and Horotata, daughters of the Mangama-ngai-atua, who were angry at the coming of a new wife, and so strove to slay her. Hina retaliated by exercising her powers of black magic, and so succeeded in destroying her rivals.page 361
At this juncture Hiria's eldest brother Maui-mua, known also as Rupe, resolved to set off in search of his sister Hina. He first went to visit Rehua, who dwelt at a place in the heavens known as the Putahi nui o Rehua. The latter provided a meal for Rupe, and that meal consisted of koko birds that lived in the hair of Rehua's head. Rupe declined to partake of what he termed the parasites of the head of Rehua. We have already seen that Rehua represented forests, and such parasites were the birds that frequented the heads of trees; in another version a somewhat different explanation occurs. Rupe (Maui-mua) then heard of the whereabouts of Hina and so went to Motutapu in the form of a pigeon, hence his second name of Rupe (rupe = pigeon, dove). When the pigeon was seen to alight on the house of Tinirau, Hina knew that it was her brother. Her child was now born, and Rupe took Hina and her child to the heavens, to the home of Rehua. Here the story, as relating to Hina, ends abruptly, but we are told how Kaitangata met his death through the activities of Rupe. I am much inclined to believe that the whole tale is an astronomical myth; some of the names given are those of stars and constellations, and Hina the moon is still in the heavens.
In one version I collected we have a short account of the above myth as derived from a Takitimu source, whereas Grey's was obtained from the Arawa folk of Rotorua. After relating the adventures of Maui with Mahuika our Takitimu contributor goes on to say that Maui resolved to go and make peace and so cause hostilities to end, but, on reaching Horotea, he found that the fighting was over and the slain were lying on the field. Maui then took Hine-rautipu to wife and returned to the home of his brothers at Wharaurangi. On his return from Horotea he brought with him the art of tattooing, and, when his knowledge of this art became known, then the people assembled in order to view the tattooed designs. Irawaru, brother-in-law of Maui, asked the latter to tattoo him. Maui had noticed a fine garment, described as a kahu mahiti in one place and as a kahu uhipuni in another; the property of Irawaru, and he decided to gain possession of it by foul means. He set to and tattooed his brother-in-law, and then proposed that they should go to the stream and cleanse themselves. Having done so Maui then seized Irawaru and, by lengthening his ears and otherwise changing his bodily form, he transformed him into a dog; he then left the dog-man and returned home. Hine-rautipu, who replaces Hina in this version and is the wife of Maui, set off in search of her brother; her younger sister Te Awhenga accompanied her, but not until they page 362called the dog call of "Moi! Moi!" did Irawaru approach them, whimpering as dogs do at such a time. Here the recital ends; nothing being said of the further adventures of Hine-rautipu. My second version is a still briefer account, in which one Makaiere is said to have been the wife of Irawaru.
A Matatua version gives Whatunui as the sister of Irawaru; she was taken to wife by Maui-potiki, but was interfered with by Maui-mua, hence Maui-potiki's ill treatment of Irawaru. This explanation is not remarkable for clearness. Another version has it that Maui ill-treated Irawaru because the latter ate all the bait when they went fishing; this appears in Taylor's Te Ika a Maui, p. 25, and was inserted in White's vol. 2 in Maori. A South Island version given me by Pakauwera of Ngati-Kuia makes Maui and Taranga brothers. Maui transformed his brother into a dog, and therefore renamed him Irawaru. Irawaru is a kind of tutelary being of dogs. Taranga had greedily devoured some of Maui's food, hence the above severe punishment. A South Island version collected by Wohlers (Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, vol. 7, p. 40, "Mythology and Traditions of the Maori") was also inserted by White in his second volume, pp. 70-71. It is a brief version and contains nothing calling for remark.
A fugitive note contains a statement to the effect that Hinauri drifted ashore at the headland of Rangitapu, at Wairarapa, and that Ihu-atamai and Ihu-wareware were brothers of Miru. The home of Tinirau is given as Puketapu, and the names of his first two wives as Horo-tatara and Horo-mangarau, who were sisters of Horomata. Hina, otherwise Hine-te-iwaiwa, appears as a daughter of Kohu, probably the Mist Maid, in another story collected by Grey.
Now irawaru is a term of vernacular speech employed to denote "incest", this in New Zealand. At the island of Niue two of the Maui were brother and sister, these two married and begat Tikitiki, whose name is used to denote incest. There must be a similar story connected with Ira-waru, one that apparently has not been collected.
An interesting review of the Maui-Hina-Irawar myth, by Tregear, may be consulted at p. 486 of vol. 19 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.
Maui and Rohe
Apparently but little was known of Rohe by the Maori folk; the name occurs but once, I think, in White's volumes, but we have page 363more about her as known to the Moriori folk of the Chatham Islands. In that small and isolated group Shand obtained a brief tradition concerning Rohe (see Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 3, pp. 125-126). It appears that Rohe was a sister of the sun, and she was taken to wife by Maui, who destroyed her by means of magic. Her spirit, however, returned to this world from spirit land and destroyed Maui, and so black magic and death were introduced into this world. It is said that Rohe had made some slighting remarks anent Maui's personal appearance, his face was ugly, hence Maui decided that they should change faces, as Rohe was renowned for her beauty, her face was like the rays of the sun. After her death Rohe became a power in the underworld, where she gathered in the spirits of the dead as they descended from the upper world, and evil influences were attributed to her. She seems to have possessed the qualities of Whiro of Maori myth, and to have occupied the position of Hine-nui-te-po, the erst Dawn Maid Hine-tita-ma; both were closely connected with the sun. We are told that Rohe was mistress of the night, but this would be the Maori and Polynesian concept of Po as the unknown, the spirit world, not the ordinary po or night. Maui is thus shown to have been closely connected with both sun and moon.
Rohe is connected with Maui in southern Polynesia, as shown in a paper in vol. 24 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society pp. 153-154; see also Gill's Myths and Songs, p. 1. In the Cook Islands story Maui and Rohe exchanged heads.
Maui and Niniwa-i-te-rangi
The fame of a certain woman named Niniwa-i-te-rangi came to the ears of Maui and so he set off to visit her, also to get himself tattooed properly, that is by puncture, instead of just having the design painted on his face, as was the custom among his own people. When the twain met Niniwa was pleased with the appearance of Maui, and so he was invited into her house and there entertained, but the heat of the place caused Maui to perspire freely, and, ere long, his face was a sad sight, so marred were the lines of traced designs. The result was that Niniwa no longer felt any admiration for Maui, hence he resolved to go and be tattooed by puncture, so that the lines might be durable. He went to Tangaroa to be tattooed, and was so adorned by Mataora, after which he returned to the home of Niniwa; she now page 364expressed her admiration of his fine appearance, and so she became his wife. In after times Maui abandoned Niniwa and took himself off to other parts; she then went in search of him, but, having searched far and wide in vain, she gave way to despair and so killed herself.
Maui, Tuna and Hina
Here we have one of the most interesting myths pertaining to Maui, inasmuch as we encounter therein the highly remarkable concept of the phallic eel, a strange form of myth that is met with in many lands of the Pacific and can be traced to far distant Asia. The story concerns the ravishing or seduction of a woman by an eel, the eel being personified under the name of Tuna, and tuna is the ordinary term for "eel". The woman so treated is usually said to have been the wife of Maui, but one tale has it that she was Tiki's wife; her name is said by some to have been Hina, by others to have been Hine-rautipu, while yet others term her simply Hine.
Taylor has a brief reference in his Te Ika a Maui, p. 24 to the encounter between Maui and Tunarua, as he terms Tuna. We are told that Maui cut off the head of Tuna and cast it into the sea, where it became a koiro (conger eel); he threw the tail into fresh water, where it turned into a tuna or fresh water eel; the blood of Tuna was absorbed by such trees as rimu, totara and toatoa, and others that now have red heartwood. In Hochstetter's work, New Zealand, Its Physical Geography, etc., published in 1867, is a brief statement to the effect that Maui slew the "sea monster" Tunarua. Tuna, in Maori and Polynesian mythology, is the personified form of the eel, but, unfortunately, has come to be described as the "eel god". I know of no special significance attached to the suffixed rua, possibly it should be roa.
The following brief account of the encounter between Maui and Tuna was repeated to me by Eruera Pakauwera, of the Ngati-Kuia tribe of the South Island, in 1894. It is not a good illustration of a Maori recital, approaching as it does too closely the clipped, cramped, unadorned modern style of diction: There is a creature dwelling in the water, a creature that devours persons, a water-dwelling monster; when a person went to fetch water he would be devoured by that monster, whose name was Tuna. Maui remarked that the monster would be overcome by him, but the people said that it was impossible. Maui told them to lay down page 365nine skids as a means of overcoming Tuna, and so the nine skids were laid down and arranged as a skidway. Then Maui and another person went to entice Tuna on to the skidway, and Maui instructed his assistant to be extremely careful in his attitude at each of the nine skids. When the assistant reached the first skid then Maui began to recite the following charm:
Mata Tuna ki te rango tuatahi, ko ira i, ko ira i, ko ira i, to ro wai; Mata Tuna ki te rango tuarua, ko ira i, ko ira i, ko ira i, to ro wai; Mata Tuna ki te rango tuatoru, ko ira i, ko ira i, ko ira i, to ro wai
And so on, the same words being employed in each line save the one denoting the number of the skid. Tuna advanced up the skidway, and, as he reached the ninth skid he was attacked and destroyed. Here the old man strayed off down the bypath of Maui's adventure with Hine-nui-te-Po, and did not return to the subject of Tuna. His version is not a good one; he confuses Tuna with the man-destroying taniwha or monsters that so frequently appear in Maori folk tales, and does not explain the true cause of Maui's scheme to slay Tuna. The laying down of a skidway up which Tuna was to be induced to crawl so that he might be slain on the ninth skid was a strange procedure, but assuredly it was no idle tale to the men of old who evolved it; these things had their meaning. Tuna the phallic eel, who had interfered with the wife of Maui, died on the ninth skid, as Tiki, the personified form of the phallus, perished (i.e., was enfeebled) on the paepae or threshold of Mauhi and Maukati. This latter is from the account of the first woman and the first act of sexual connection as given in Maori mythology, and the story pertains to that more than it does to Maui (see Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 2, p. 54). The Maori has preserved this story of the phallic eel, a myth found far and wide across the Pacific, as we have preserved it in the Christian, or rather pre-Christian myth of Eve and the serpent, that has come down to us from the remote peoples of far Chaldea. For Ira, the eel god of S.E. Asia is Ila the serpent of Persia, and Indra of India, the phallic eel and phallic serpent are apparently one and the same.
At p. 191 of vol. 26 Journal of the Polynesian Society appears an attempt at translating the one line of the above charm. I am by no means sure that mata is there used in the sense of "face", probably it was not. Also tow ai (i.e., torowai) is certainly incorrect, the old man Pakauwera distinctly said to ro wai, and was very particular about the formula being written down correctly. The enunciation of my informant was very clear, and I certainly made no error in taking down either to ro wai or ko ira; page 366the latter was certainly not koira. As for this word ira, we have no explanation from the Maori, he does not know what it stands for, and meanings given in dictionaries do not help us, apparently Ira is, in this formula, a proper name, a personal name, and Ira belongs to the water, he is a water denizen, as to ro wai denotes. There I leave the matter.
A brief account of this myth was given by another South Island Maori, or half-caste, one George Sise. This tells us that Hine-turepo, wife of Maui, was tampered with by Tuna, and reported the matter to Maui, who, with certain companions, set off provided with kaho [?] as a means of slaying Tuna. A form of channel or ditch was dug, and skids were laid down therein; as Tuna crawled up the skidway he was attacked and destroyed.
The version collected by Wohlers and published by him reappeared in White's second volume at p. 69 of the Maori part. In this South Island story Hina, wife of Maui, is said to have been a daughter of Tuna and Repo (repo = swamp), notwithstanding which relationship Tuna ravished Hina as she went for water. She reported having been molested by some smooth, slimy creature. Maui then dug a channel and laid down ten skids therein, and seems to have stationed Hina thereat as a lure, whereupon Tuna came and was killed by Maui. The tail of Tuna fled to the ocean and originated conger eels, his head fled to fresh waters, and from it sprang all tuna or fresh water eels; from the hair of his head came climbing plant, aka. Another version has it that Tuna was the offspring of Manga-wairoa, and he molested Hine, the wife of Maui, at Muriwai-o-hata. This name, under the forms Muriwai-o-ata, or hata, or whata, is a place name or stream name in Polynesia and New Zealand; Muriwai-o-whata is a place name at Poverty Bay. Maui dug his ditch, set a net therein, caught Tuna and killed him; from the body of Tuna sprang Pukutuoro, a monster a Aotearoa, also the toro, koareare, and Titoki trees, the kareo or supple-jack, the raupo, bulrush, and many climbing plants, likewise the conger eel. This is from White, and is said to have come from the Ngati-hau tribe. In another rendering Tuna is called Tuna-roa, and his blood imported the red colour to the wood of the rimu, totara and toatoa trees. In a Ngati-Awa (Taranaki) version Raukura, wife of Maui, is molested by Tuna-roa, and the latter is slain by Maui who uses but two skids, while he employed nine and ten in versions given above. In this case Tuna's blood colours not only the toatoa, rimu, matai and tawai trees, but was also responsible for the red seen in the kakariki and pukeko birds.page 367
The Tuhoe folk seem to have got somewhat confused in the matter of this myth, and so Pani appears as the woman molested by Tuna and as the wife of Maui, though Ngati-awa of Te Teko say that Pani was the foster-mother of the Maui brothers. One informant of Tuhoe states that Hine-nui-te-po slew Maui in order to avenge the death of Tuna the "tickling tailed" eel, a reference to the manner in which Tuna molested the wife of Maui.
The Hawaiian myth Lonoakihi is said to be the eel "god", but whether or not this being is connected with Lono who appears in Maori myth as Rongo I cannot say. Certainly both Rongo and Tuna are connected with fertility.
In some parts of eastern Polyesian Hina appears as the wife of Tuna, but Maui came and took her as a wife for himself. The story of Hina and her eel lover is far spread in the Pacific, and is connected with the mythical origin of the coconut. At Hawaii the wife of Maui molested by Tuna seems to have been Hina-a-te-lepo, and Tuna is alluded to as Kuna-mo'o (Tuna-moko), i.e., Tuna the taniwha or monster. Westervelt's euphemistic rendering of the myth as given at p, 92 of his work on Maui is likely to mislead the reader, for assuredly Tuna is the phallic eel. The skidway method of disposing of Tuna does not seem to appear in any of the Polynesian versions of the story. Tiki and his wife Hina are mentioned in Hawaiian myth.
Since the above sentence was written we have received Miss Henry's work Ancient Tahiti, pp. 620-1, in which the Tahitian version of this myth is given. We are told that Maui laid down logs as skids over which the eel passed in its pursuit of Hina, and, as it did so, Maui attacked it, cut of its tail and finally chopped it into pieces. The head of the eel developed into two coconut trees.
Maui, Tangaroa and Te Mokoroaiata
Here is another of Maui's adventures, and, moreover, one that is but little heard of, it is but partially known to the Maori, and in order to understand local allusions we have to consult Polynesian data. The Fish of Maui (Te Ika a Maui) is here a well known name for the Milky Way, also styled the Mangoroa and the Mokoroa-iata (this iata is sometimes added to Mangoroa, but I know not what it signifies). The name Mangoroa may be rendered as the great, or long, shark, and it is the fish slain by Maui. Mokoroa may be said to denote a great monster, for moko page 368is a term used in Polynesia and New Zealand as an equivalent for taniwha, it is applied to the great monsters, mythical creatures of saurian form, huge man-destroying lizards that are said to have devoured man in former times. These stories of man-eating moko are common to New Zealand and Polynesia. Moko denotes the lizard in both regions, but in one area of Melanesia it is applied to the crocodile. The Milky Way is described by the Maori as a great fish, shark or taniwha. Tangaroa, the father of Maui, is said in a Rarotongan myth to have had a strenuous fight with a great fish or monster called the Mokoroa-i-ata, in which he was worsted. In later times Maui captures that fish or its progeny, which he placed in the heavens where it is still seen. [This tale appears in vol. 8 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, pp. 65-73. Tangaroa is said to have given his son the name of Maui from his own mauianga or weariness when overcome by the Mokoroa-i-ata: Cf. Maori mauiui = wearied. Other references to the Mokoroa episode may be found at p. 221 of vol. 7 of the above Journal, at p. 150 of vol.20, p.58 of vol.21 and p. 155 of vol.24.]
Maui and the Moa at Tonga
In vol.32 (1921) of Folk Lore, pp. 45-48, Mr E. E. Collocott gives us a number of Legends from Tonga containing various exploits of Maui-tikitiki; there called Kijikiji. Some of these feats are unknown to the Maori, and among these was the slaying of a huge bird called the moa that had been ravaging the isle of Eua. Maui and his father Atalanga attacked the moa and finally destroyed it. One can but wonder if the moa of New Zealand was known to the Tongans, quite possibly it was. [This story was also collected by the Rev. J. C. Moultan, who stated that, according to native tradition, the moa of Eua was about 12 feet in height. See the Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 7, p. 177. The Rarotongans were apparently acquainted with the moa of New Zealand owing to the voyage of Ngahue to these isles.]
Maui and Maru
The story connected with these two has not been made clear, but for some reason there was contention between Maui and Maru-te-whareaitu. Each destroyed the crops of the other by page 369magic means, and, in the version collected by Wohlers, Maru is said to have been slain by Maui; in Grey's version we see that the daughter of Maru also perished at his hands.
Maui hauls up Land from Ocean Depths
This is the best known and perhaps the most widely distributed myth connected with Maui. We will first follow my own collected version. At a certain time Maui's folk went forth to take fish at a fishing rock known as Hauparoa, while two others were named Tapuarau and Whakahauhau, such were the principal fishing places. The elder Maui brothers and their friends formed the party and they asked Maui-tikitiki to go with them but he refused, preferring to spend his time in sleeping, singing and sounding his trumpet, an instrument named Hauerangi, one that had a peculiar and easily recognised note. Persons who heard it would at once say: "That is the Hauerangi sounding yonder."
At a certain time Hine-rautipu, Maui's wife, said to him: "Maui! Will you and your brothers go and catch some fish for us"—but he would not go, he went to sleep instead, and so at last his brothers ceased to take fish to their sister-in-law, for, notwithstanding their affection for Hine-rautipu, and for her younger sister Te Awhenga, they were deeply annoyed by the indolence of Tikitiki. So it was that Puhiariki, wife of Maui-mua, went, unseen and unknown, to carry fish to Hine-rautipu and her sister.
Some time later a party went to visit Maui-tikitiki on account of the rumours of the happenings I have referred to. These visitors were exceedingly hungry when they arrived at the village, and the lack of food to place before them caused much embarrassment to Whakahuka and her brother Tikiahua, who were children of Maui-tikitiki and Hine-rautipu. Maui himself was much put out, and so he went to his elder brothers, Mauima, and Mauipae, and said to them: "O friends! I have a party of visitors at my place, let me have some of your fish for them." His brothers would by no means consent to give him any fish, and Mauipae said: "I caught my fish for myself, while you idled your time away, now you can endure your discomfiture." So that matter ended, and Tikitiki retired to the rear end of his house to brood over his trouble, so deeply abashed was he.
Some time after Tikitiki had retired Mauimua said to Mauipae: "O lad! Be kind to our young brother; our attitude towards him page 370was caused by hunger, had food been ready and plentiful we would not act so; now take my sack of fish to serve as food for the party visiting our young brother." So Mauipae set off with the bag of fish and deposited it within the cooking shed of Hine-rautipu, and so the anxiety and apprehensions of Hine-rautipu, her sister, and of their children, were now allayed.
In the morning all was fair and calm; Mauimua came and greeted the visitors, after which he said to Tikitiki: "O lad! Let us go a fishing." Whereupon Tikitiki rose and agreed: "Yes, let us go." Now when Tikitiki passed out of the house he proceeded to the cave wherein lay the bones of his grandfather; it was situated at Kowhaonui on the long coast line of Maruaroa (Akau roa o Maruaroa), and brought away the lower jaw bone of his grandfather Muri-ranga-whenua to serve as a fish hook for himself, knowing as he did that his elder brothers did not look on him with favour. Well, it was owing to the fact that he had been suddenly called upon to go fishing that he went to obtain the jaw bone of his grandfather to serve as a fish hook. He also lacked some crayfish to serve as bait for his hook. When he arrived at the starting place at Waihao, and his brothers saw him, then Maui-taha and Maui-roto said to him: "We object to you going out to sea with us, you are an indolent person and also deceitful." Maui-tikitiki enquired: "How many times have I deceived you people?" The reply came: "Why was the apron of our mother concealed by you; why was Mahuika deceived by you, and why, O man of evil ways, was your brother-in-law Irawaru maltreated by you?" Here Maui-mua remarked: "Enough has been said to our young brother; let him accompany us on our fishing trip." So he was allowed to go, and his brother said to him: "You take your place at the bow of the canoe."
So they paddled away out on the ocean, and when far out Mauipae cried: "Lower the anchor." Tikitiki remarked: "I thought that we had come here to fish; this is a sandbank, the fish here are all small; let us move on to a deep part and there remain." To this the elder brothers agreed, and, when they had paddled some distance, another of the brothers called out: "Lower the anchor of the canoe." So the anchor, the name of which was Horapunga, was lowered, and the elder brothers baited their hooks, whereupon Tikitiki called out: "O friends! Let me have one of your hooks." One of the brothers said: "Tear off your jaw to serve you as a hook"—to which Tikitiki replied: "Oh well, give me one of your crayfish to use as bait." Said Maui-page 371taha: "Bait your hook with a part of your body." Tikitiki was now annoyed with his brothers, and so remarked: "I made the request because I credited you with feelings of human kindliness, but as you choose to act in this manner, well, let it be so." Maui-tikitiki now stood up, took his fishing line in his right hand, and the human jaw bone in his left, and so repeated a charm to render his hook effective, after which he cast his line. But ere he stood up to recite the charm over his hook he had struck his nose in order to cause blood to flow, and this he smeared over his grandfather's jaw bone, this he did unobserved by his brothers. He then continued to repeat his charm, and, ere long, his hook caught in the barge board of the house, and so the fish was hauled up. Maui-tikitiki said to his brothers: "You remain here with our fish, but do not trample on it or cut it up, leave it to cool ere you prepare it, and when I have conveyed the mauri of our fish to the priests of the sacred place I will return hither." His brothers enquired: "Whose jaw bone was it that you brougth with you to serve as a fish hook?" Said Maui: "What matters that, now that I have landed this prize before us, enough for us to rejoice in our good fortune." So Maui-tikitiki departed.
After the departure of Maui his brothers, disregarding his instructions, began to divide the captured fish, the new land, among themselves, each one selecting a part that pleased him and proceeding to mark the limits of his claim. It is said that such was the origin of the broken nature of the land, the hills, ranges, valleys and swamps were produced by the trampling of those persons and by their cutting up and dividing the fish of Maui while it was still warm and soft. Here ends this branch of the tasks of Maui.
It is evident that the hook used by Maui, consisting of the jaw bone of his grandfather, possessed magic powers, and these would be enhanced or rendered active by the formula repeated by Maui. The narrator gives us a lame account of the hauling up of the land from the depths of Tuauriuri, the deep ocean. We are not told what house it was that the hook caught in, or what land it was, or any other of the highly remarkable particulars encountered in some versions. Some narrators explain that the land so fished up by Maui was Hawaiki, the homeland; others tell us that it was Te Ika a Maui (The Fish of Maui), the North Island of New Zealand, that was so raised from the deep. Maui is credited with these marvellous powers in many Pacific isles, and so is said to have dragged many of them up to the light of day, from Mangarewa to Tonga.page 372
The second version that I secured commences with a brief statement that Maui resolved to go a fishing after being accused of laziness. He procured the aforesaid jaw bone, which he washed at the Awa o Tane, which lies "on this side of the Haehaepo, the village of Mataaho and his elders". Maui recited a charm over the jaw bone while engaged on this task; these charms are given in the original version. Maui concealed himself in the fishing canoe of his brothers and did not appear until the craft was far from land, when his brothers were angry with the stowaway. Then Maui busied himself in annoying his brothers; he repeated a potent karakia, (charm, spell, incantation) that caused the ocean to be "drawn out" so that distances were much increased thereby. The brothers paddled long and strenuously but at last despaired of reaching the desired fishing ground, and so they returned to one nearer land, a fishing ground named Whakapau-mahara. The name of their canoe was Tuahiwi-o-rangi; the name of the fishing line of Tikitiki was Te Aweawe-o-te-rangi; the name of his fish hook was the Jawbone of Muri-rangawhenua. His brothers refusing to give him any bait, Maui smote his own nose and caused blood to flow, which he smeared on a rag which he used as bait. Maui soon had a vigorous bite but had so much trouble with a heavy fish that his brothers told him to let it go, but this he refused to do. Maui then recited a charm to prevent his line breaking, another to prevent his fish slipping off the hook and another to prevent it dying. From there this version agrees with the one first given.
A third version collected by the writer differs little from the above. Three members of the fishing party are given as Pokopoko, Hou and Moka. The sinker of Maui's fishing line was named the Whatu-a-Kiwa, and the hook caught in Tukerae-whenua, presumably a point of the land lying below in the depths of the ocean. When Maui succeeded in hauling his great fish to the surface, behold, it was Aotearoa, "the fish of Maui-tikitiki that lies outspread before us". The old native who narrated this version included a form of explanation that would represent an important concession on his part, but which is not by any means clear to the dull Pakeha mind. Having told how Maui hauled this North Island of New Zealand up from the ocean depths the narrator continued: "Now as to the significance of this tale, it is a parallel to an occurrence of the remote period of Mataaho, of whom you have heard, and of the Maui brothers, when Great Io resolved to despatch Ruatau and Aitupawa to inform Mataaho that the reservoirs of Kiwa, Tawhirimatea, and Te Ihorangi page 373(ocean, wind and rain) were to be opened in order that the Earth Mother might be turned over so as to face the lower world. After that it would be for Mataaho and Whakaruaumoko to arrange the body of the Earth Mother so that her head, arms, sides and legs might be disposed in the right positions. The cause of this resolve of Great Io was the fact that he was grieved about the quarreling and strife carried on by Whiro-te-tipua and his younger brother Tuma-tauenga at the Paerangi, where the offspring of the Sky Parent and the Earth Mother were separated, a contention that has continued down to the present time, never yet has peace been cemented between Tane-nui-a-Rangi and Whiro-te-tipua, hence Maikiroa (disease, sickness) ever lurks between Whiro-te-tipua and Tane-nui-a-Rangi and their elders. Hence also Tahekeroa, the path of death that descends to the dark realm of Rarohenga that consumes man, trees, and all other things of the world. Such was the origin of all tribulations of this world, all dissension and discontent.
"You now understand the intentions of Io when he gave final instructions to Mataaho and Whakaruaumoko that the Earth Mother be so treated; such was the overturning effected by Mataaho that you hear of. Mataaho and Whakaruaumoko were the persons who possessed the power of causing earthquakes and volcanic disturbances; Tawhirimatea held such powers in connection with wind, and Te Ihorangi as pertaining to rain, while, as to Kiwa, he was appointed to confine the waters, and to control their movements; and distribute them to such places as they deemed fit.
"You are also aware that these persons Tawhirimatea, Te Iorangi, Kiwa, Whakaruaumoko and Mataaho were the controllers of rain, snow, water, the ocean, earthquake, volcanic action, and mist, such were the powers assigned them by Io-te-wananga.
"So the five beings mentioned carried out the command of Io the enduring, and this was the overturning by Mataaho, as it is called, and of which we hear. Now you are aware of the real meaning of that tale, and why it is the earth is unstable.
"Now owing to his brothers having divided the new land Maui remarked: "Let my 'fish' be a home for me, my elder brothers, and our children." Such was the claiming of this land, on account of this bespeaking by Maui the name of Maui-tikitiki was applied to this island and survives unto this day. The remark made by Maui-tikitiki has been fulfilled, for here are we dwelling, we the page 374descendants of the Maui brothers spoken of; all persons living on this island, and the South Island, and all those of Hawaiki, all are descendants of the Maui brothers I have spoken of.
"As for the tale of Maui fishing up the land as I have explained, that is a winter's tale told by irresponsible persons not connected with the school of superior learning; it is not a superior recital handed down in such schools."
The above narrator was endeavouring to show that, while the story of Maui hauling up this island is a mere fireside tale, yet a parallel is found in the story of the overturning of the Earth Mother by command of the Supreme Being, though the reason assigned for that great feat differs from the one usually given; there are two versions of each of these myths. As we have already seen, the grieving and weeping of the first parents when separated induced Io to turn the Earth Mother over, so that the two might no longer gaze upon each other.
In a Matatua version of the above myth Muri-rangawhenua tells Maui to secure his jaw bone when he dies, and use it as a hook, also that the sinews of his body will furnish material from which Maui is to make a fishing line. Another tale is to the effect that Maui cast a teka or dart, and that dart struck the jaw of Muri as he sat in the porch of his house, named Tane-kapua, with such force that it fell off, and so Maui secured it. Evidently Maui meant his dart to strike some person, inasmuch as he repeated the following charm as he cast it: "Taku teka, tau e kai ai he tangata. Haere i tua o nga maunga; me kai koe ki te tangata. Whiwhia! Rawear!" (My dart, let your objective be man; speed onward beyond the ranges and assail man. Achieve success). In this case Maui tore off a part of his own ear to serve as bait for his hook. When he cast his line out he repeated the following luring charm: "Taku tupuna tau noa, ko te poa a to mokopuna, te matau i whiwhia mai, i rawea mai, kia u, kia rawea. Te poa, te poa, tikina mai, kumekumea, haparangitia." Here Maui seems to have called upon the ocean-covered land to take the bait and hook, and attach itself thereto. Maui then repeated another formula to cause the hidden land to appear:
Whakapupu ai te uru o te whenua
Whakaea ea te uru o nga tangata
Whakatanene, whakanene, whakanene a maui au nei
Whakanene a hatau au nei
Hiia Tonganui, hiia te matau a Maui
Ka ea te uru o te whenua, ka ea te uru o nga tangata.
As to who, or what Tonganui or Great Tonga may be we know not, unless perchance it be a land name, as Tonga-apai and Tonga-ruru are, but in another version Taranga says to Maui: "Go to your ancestor Tonganui and obtain a fish hook." This seems to confuse Tonganui with Muri-rangawhenua. The submarine monster or being known as Te Parata one native authority has identified with Tangaroa, and this casts some light on the latter name, for the faculty of tanga roa, long or deep breathing, is a marked attribute of Te Parata, who breathes but twice in twenty-four hours in his great task of producing the tides. Concerning Tonganui, however, we have received no explanation.
The above Matatua version goes on to say that the hook of Maui caught in the threshold of a house at Rarotonga, apparently a place here, for when Maui pulled his fish up it was our North Island of New Zealand. Yet another version has it that the fish of Maui was really Papa-tuanuku, the earth, that is all land above water. Maui came from the far off homeland of Mataora and fished up the land, the earth that had been trampled under water when the sky was forced up. Then Maui set off to carry the māwe (symbol) of his "fish" to the priestly medium of the gods, that is some object that served as a symbol of his capture and his prowess. Then his brothers trampled all over the yet soft land, and so disfigured it woefully, hence the saying—"Te whenua i takatakahia a Maui ma", the earth trampled by the Maui folk—and so we see islands, hills and valleys.
In Taylor's Te Ika a Maui, p. 28, we note that Maui's hook caught in the house of Hine-nui-te-po, but a Ngapuhi version makes it the house of Tonganui. A local folk tale tells us that Maui's vessel rests upon the summit of Mt Hikurangi, Waiapu district, and that Wellington Harbour and Lake Wairarapa are the eyes of the Fish of Maui, the northern peninsula is its tail, and Taupo its stomach. In the version given by Grey the particulars are much the same as the Takitimu version first given; Maui's hook catches in the door sill of the house of Tonganui, while the fish caught is Papa-tuanuku; the fish hook of Maui is represented by the curved coast line of Hawkes Bay from Te Mahia-mai-Tawhiti to Cape Kidnappers, the Maori name of which is Te Matau-a-Maui (the Fish-hook of Maui). Another version that was published in the Kauwae runga (Smith's Lore of the Whare-wananga, part 1, pp. 78-82) agrees with one collected by myself. A South Island version collected by Wohlers contains nothing new to us, save that, when the land was hauled up to the light of page 376day, houses and storehuts were seen standing thereon, dogs were howling, fires were burning, while people were moving about and conversing. Another South Island rendering given by Pakau-wera of Ngati-Kuia follows the Wohlers version closely, but mentions that Maui's fishing activities were conducted from a South Island base camp. A version published by White shows us that Rupe helped to pull up the fish of Maui, and Rupe was another name of Maui-mua, who oft assumed the form of a pigeon, as he did on this occasion. Also that Maui was responsible for the volcanic activities of White Island, or the Puia-i-Whakaari, as natives often term it, it was he who first kindled the fires within that isle. Both the Grey and Wohlers versions reappear in White's second volume, pp. 75-7 and 88-9.
We have seen that the fish hook of Maui caught the North Island and so it was drawn up to the world of light, but at Rakahanga isle, (10°N, 160°E), say 700 leagues away in the north, they show the very rock in which his fish hook caught. Gill gives a realistic account of how Maui drew up the isle of Manihiki in times remote (Myths and Songs from the South Pacific p. 73); the natives of that isle recognise the fish hook of Maui in the tail of the Scorpion, a star group that represents a canoe to the Maori. Another old myth tells us that Tahiti island was hauled up by Maui in the form of a shark. At Mangarewa the natives hold that Maui-matavaru hauled up the group from the ocean depths, and that he held or controlled the sun by means of a hair rope. Samoa, Tonga, and other islands have their stories of how Maui fished them up; one story is to the effect that Tonga was named after a son of Maui, but a part of Tonga became detached and is now seen in the form of Uvea island; Burrows gives the names of three Maui brothers as known to the natives of Fakaofo isle of the Union Group, but he also mentions Ikiiki, his wife Talanga, and their son Lu. Here we have the Tikitiki, Taranga and Ru of divers other isles. It was Maui-mua who pulled up the isle of Fakaofo, which was so named because its appearance startled the fisher and his brothers; in Maori we have whakaoho = to startle, rouse. Maui-loto then caught and hauled up the isle of Nukunonu, and Maui-muli pulled up Atafu isle. In this tale it is said that Lu, the son of Ikiiki (Tikitiki) was the being who thrust the low hung heavens upward. Some of the Maui myths are known in the New Hebrides, including the one we have just discussed, the land fishing feat. (Burrows, Western Polynesia p. 71.)page 377
Maui and Hine-nui-te-po
Maui strives to abolish death
Here we come to Maui's greatest and final task, and his one failure, a failure that brought death to himself and also to every member of the human race as long as that race endures. As to whether the success of Maui's endeavour would have meant eternal life for the lower animals, and for plant life, we are not told by our Maori pundits.
The cause of Maui's striving against Hine of the underworld is explained in various ways, and one often related is as follows: Hine-nui-te-po insisted that man should die for all time, but Maui objected to this and maintained that man should die as the moon dies, that is in a temporary manner, for a brief period, and then come back to life as the new moon does. In a Matatua (Bay of Plenty) version Tane is substituted for Maui in this controversy, though it was Maui who made the attempt to overcome Hine. Said Maui to Hine: "Let man die as the moon dies" (Me mate a marama te tangata). "Not so", replied Hine. "Let him die forever and be buried in the earth, and so be greeted and mourned." So it is that we mourn for our dead, and this saying is heard: "Me tangi, apa ko te mate i te marama"—Let us bewail our lost ones, it is not as though they had died as does the moon. So it came about that permanent death was man's lot, for Hine gained the better of Maui; prior to that time, some tell us, death had been merely temporary, a moon-like death. Now man knows the mate a one or mate a whenua, permanent death and burial, and so is upheld the dictum of Hine of Rarohenga: "Me matemate a one, kia mihia ai, kia tangihia ai." Had Maui succeeded in overcoming this great being of the underworld of spirits then man would have enjoyed eternal life, he would have flourished forever, but Hine and the mate a whenua prevailed, and so true death entered the world of life, and abides, and abides, and abides.
In some recitals the name of Hina takes the place of that of Hine-nui-te-po, and in one case at least the former seems to be Hina-te-iwaiwa, also known as Hina-uri and Hina-keha. Hina-te-iwaiwa is not one and the same being as Hine-nui-te-po, the first concept is connected with the moon, the latter with the sun.
Some of our best Maori authorities have stated that permanent death began when Hine-titama, the Dawn Maid, descended to page 378the underworld and took the name of Hine-nui-te-po, calling upon Tane, her sire, to send spirits of the dead down to her. The stream of death down to the underworld was so instituted, and became permanent. Maui-tikitiki heard that death had been rendered permanent by Hine and Whiro, and declared that he would abolish death. His brothers warned him not to attempt the impossible, but Maui would heed no warning; he called upon Tatahore, Miro and Tiwaiwaka (three small forest birds) to accompany him, and the four assumed the form of Karearea (the sparrow-hawk) and so descended the long passage of Tahekeroa to the underworld. Here they were seen by the offspring of Pekerau (insects, etc.) at Kohurau, and those creatures hastened to report to Hine, "O! The aoturoa (upper world) has arrived at Kohurau." Hine knew at once that the intruders had come to assail her, hence she sent the Peke-rau folk back to obtain a drop of the blood of Maui to serve as a medium between her magic spells and their objective, her enemy. But Maui heard the Pekerau folk approaching, and he and his companions so buffeted them with their wings as to destroy them, some survivors returned and reported the disaster to Hine, a disaster known as Paihau-karoha. Hine then sent Namu, the silent sandfly, on the same quest, and Namu the silent succeeded in obtaining a drop of Maui's blood, which Hine smeared on the door frame of her house, named Potaka-rongorongo.
When Maui and his companions reached the house of dread Hine they found her asleep therein. Maui then assumed the form of the rat, but to this Tatahore objected, then that of a reptile, which Tiwaiwaka condemned, then that of a form of a worm, which was approved of by his companions. Then Maui said to them: "Now you must be careful not to laugh when I enter the body of Hine, so that I may reach her heart, and, by gnawing at it, slay her; if you see her writhing then scoop her eyes out." Then Maui entered the body of Hine by way of the ara namunamu ki taiao, the way by which man enters the world; he crossed the threshold known as the paepae o Tiki and entered the puapua; when the raho opened Tatahore began to laugh, while Tiwaiwaka fled to the plaza and fell to capering about. Then it was that Hine awoke, felt Maui wriggling in the form of a worm, then Mokakati (the female genitals) came, and so Maui was throttled and perished. This death scene is known as Waikumia and Waiharorangi; and should you observe the head of Noke, the earthworm, you will see the swelling caused by the throttling act of Mokakati; as to Tiwaiwaka (the fantail, a small and lively page 379forest bird), if you meet him abroad he will not fail to prance about and laugh at you.
Such is a brief account of the Maui versus Hine episode as given by a Takitumu native. Several reasons are given to account for Hine's hostility toward Tane; the Matatua folk tell us that Mahuika, the mother of the Fire Children destroyed by Maui, was a sister of Hine, and so the latter strove to avenge the death of her sister's children. Again Tuna the eel, also slain by Maui, is said to have been a lover of Hine. There was also, apparently, some resentment felt owing to Maui's treatment of his captured "Fish", the great land we inhabit. This is referred to in an old song:
Na Maui i hangarau tana ika tapu, ko te whenua nui a noho nei taua
I tikina ki raw wheuriuri ki a Hinenuitepo hai ngaki i te mate
I tukuna mai nei ki ana karere, ki te waeroa, ki te namu poto
Hai kakati i te rae i te mata o te hurupiki
—ka ea te mate o te hiku rekareka nei, o te tuna.
('Twas Maui who befooled his sacred fish, the great land on which we dwell. Hine-nui-te-po was fetched from darkling depths to avenge the wrong. She sent her messengers, the mosquito and sandfly, to pierce his forehead—and so the death of the tickling-tailed eel was avenged). The expression hiku rekareka and tara puremu are employed to denote the tail of the phallic eel on account of the use to which such tail was put.
Hine is said to have despatched several agents to obtain a drop of Maui's blood ere success crowned her efforts. The first one so sent was Kahukura, the butterfly, but he was too conspicuous and unwary withal, and so perished. Then Waeroa, the mosquito, was despatched, but he was too noisy and so was slain by Maui; followed Tuiau, the midge, but death was the lot of Tuiau. Then Namu the silent sandfly came and succeeded where others had failed, and so Namu-poto carried back to Hine the drop of blood that was to render Maui the hero vulnerable to her magic spells, to bring him under their influence.
Here follows an interesting version of this myth obtained from Takitimu sources. The first part was given by Te Matoro-hanga of Wairarapa.
At a certain time Toirangi, grandchild of Maui-mua, died; he was the first grandchild born to the Maui brothers, hence he was the subject of the thoughts and attention of all. The cause of his death was his trespassing on a tapu place, he and other youths were strolling about and he trespassed on the spot at Pari-o-te-page 380amai whereat the umbilical cords of the children of Hine-titama had been deposited. This place is at the Honoi-wairua, whereat stood Hawaiki-rangi, the house with four entrance ways through which passed spirits of the dead, all of which I have explained to you. Well, the child was seized with illness, and, on the matter being investigated by experts, the cause of the seizure was made clear. Those experts set to work and treated the case, but they could not save the child, and so he died, whereupon Puhi-ariki, wife of Maui-mua and grandmother of the dead child, destroyed herself, and so there were two deaths to deplore, that of the grandchild and that of the grandmother. Maui-mua said to Maui-tikitiki: "Why do you not show your skill and courage in closing the door of Poutere-rangi (entrance to the underworld) even that death may cease to send man down to Rarohenga. You have been wasting your time in performing fruitless feats, and now our grandchild has been carried away on the path of Hine-nui-te-po. Go you forth and destroy her." Now Maui-tikitiki consented to go and slay Hine-titama, she who is also named Hine-nui-te-po, she whose eyes gleam, whose teeth are white as those of the mako shark, whose hair resembles the karengo seaweed, whose strength is immeasurable, and whose smooth skin resembled the blushing cheek of a maid.
Maui now called upon his three bird friends, Tatahore, Miromiro and Tiwaiwaka, and they agreed to accompany him, Maui having the task of deciding as to what forms they should assume. When they arrived at Poutere-rangi then Te Kuwatawata, the keeper of the gates to the underworld, asked: "Wither is your party travelling?" Maui replied: "We are seeking our grandchild Toirangi, possibly you might see him coming down the descent to the underworld?" Te Kuwatawata replied: "He did not come this way, possibly he passed by way of the toi huare-wa [the ascent to the heavens]". Maui-tikitiki then enquired: "Is it not possible for me to put an end to the soul of man descending to Rarohenga [the underworld of spirits], to close the passage to dark lower realms?" Te Kuwatawata answered: "It cannot be accomplished; guardians have been appointed, while Papa-tuanuku [the Earth Mother] and the eleven heavens are displayed in orderly array before Io-te-waiora, the fountain head of life and welfare." Maui persisted in asking that he and his companions should be allowed to proceed and strive with Hine in order to abolish the path of Tahekeroa, the path to the underworld. Then at last Te Kuwatawata said: "Well, go, but this path cannot be diverted." Maui and his bird page 381companions now passed on down the passage leading to the underworld.
Now to Hine had come the knowledge that hostile folk were coming to slay her, hence she despatched her attendants, the offspring of Pekerau (insects) to intercept her enemies at Kohurau. When Maui and his companions arrived at that place the ambushers attacked them. The noise they made was heard and so many were slain, while others escaped to return to the home of Hine, and report: "We are escapees; we have been defeated." Then Hine sent the Tini o Poto, the multitude of the sandfly folk to assail the daring intruders, who were met on the descent from Kohurau. The sandfly folk attacked Maui and his bird friends valiantly, silently, swiftly, and so, when the intruders sought to buffet them by flapping their wings, behold, the sandfly folk had already fled, taking with them the blood of the daring ones. When they returned to Hine, she looked at them and saw that much blood had been obtained, and this blood she smeared on the lintel beam of the doorway to her house, so that the invaders whose blood it was would have to pass beneath it. Then Hine recited a potent spell over that blood so that, when the intruders passed beneath it in order to enter the house, they would be utterly undone. Having made these preparations Hine entered the house, retired to the rear end thereof, and was there overcome by sleep, having been busy both day and night (i te ao, i te po).
(At this stage of the recital of Te Matorohanga there was an interruption, one Mikaera enquired: "Is there any day in the underworld; is it not said that the Reinga is a realm of gloomy darkness?" Te Matorohanga replied: "Bear in mind that we call this world we live in the aoturoa, the ao mamma, and taiao, also that we have day and night in this world; in like manner there is day and night in the underworld. I have already informed you that all things in this world, in the heavens, and in the different divisions of the heavens are of a dual nature; were it not for this dual aspect then all things would lack vitality, would fail to flourish, they would not increase and multiply, for each would be mateless, each one would be alone, hence it would fail and disappear. Such dualism causes all things to flourish and increase, for each thing has its mate, and, on that account all things grow, increase, and flourish. All things, no matter what, eventually reach a culminating point in development and welfare. Had matters not been so decreed by great Io, by Io the parent, by Io of all-embracing knowledge, then there would be neither birth nor page 382growth; it would not be possible to say of anything 'This is a new thing; this is a newly born thing; this is a new growth.' Therefore be clear in your mind that all things possess life, each after the manner of its kind, that all things possess the elements of decay and dissolution as they affect different things. If all things possessed life and welfare only, then there would be no world to serve as an abiding place for them; if all things lacked duality then all would be lone and mateless, each would be alone, and so the result would be that all things would be old, decrepit, worthless. The great resolve of Io in the presence of the whatukura, the apa, and the poutiriao [attendants of Io, denizens of the heavens, and guardians of the different realms of Nature] was that all things before him should possess permanent welfare, yet he decreed that all things should experience periods of welfare, of misfortune, of wrong, of right, of discord and peace. If it had been decreed that all things in this world should know life and welfare only, then only the kete aronui [knowledge of good] would have been given to Tane-matua; had it been decided that they should know tribulation, decay and death only, then only the kete tuatea [knowledge of evil] would have been sent down to this world.")
Maui and his bird companions fared on until they drew near to the home of Hine-nui-te-po, when Maui addressed them as follows: "O friends! If I succeed in entering the body of Hine-nui-te-po be very careful not to laugh at me. When I have passed through her body for the second time then you may laugh at me." Then Maui disappeared into the body of Hine, he was then laughed at by his friends. Hine awoke, closed her limbs, contracted her puapua (vagina), and so Maui perished.
Such is the usual form of this myth; the account concerning the death of Toirangi has been collected only in the Takitimu district, and that death is given as the reason why Maui assailed Hine in an endeavour to abolish death. When Hine acquired a drop of the blood of Maui that hero was foredoomed to death, for, when it was placed over the doorway and bewitched he would come under the influence of Hine's magic spell as he passed through that doorway.
The diversion caused by the question of Mikaera gave us an extremely interesting series of remarks made by Te Matorohanga. Such explanations as these are most enlightening as illustrating the train of thought of such a man, and the general mentality of the Maori.page 383
In a further version it is explained that Maui was ignorant of the fact that Hine had bewitched him, that his own blood had been taken as a medium in sympathetic magic. Such ignorance on the part of an intended victim was always desired by the warlock. Maui was fey when the sandfly obtained a drop of his blood. Hine knew that Maui was on his way to slay her by experiencing a strange premonition of evil, termed ariaria in the narrative. Maui warned his followers, who, in this version, included his elder brothers and the patatai or land-rail, that they must not laugh at him until he had entered Hine, plucked away her heart, and emerged into the world. In this case it was the land-rail that brought death to Maui.
The Tuhoe folk assert that a previous attempt to slay Maui had been made by Hine; she sent Matakerepo (in vernacular speech this term denotes blindness) to lay in wait for Maui in a pit. Their belief was that if Maui leaped down into the pit with his legs drawn up then they would succeed in killing him, but if he jumped straight-limbed into the pit then he would escape. When Maui came to the pit he leaped into it with his limbs flexed and so his enemies were able to kill him. Then Hine and Matakerepo rejoiced, and sang: "Maui whakaringaringa, Maui whakawaewae Pakia!"—so pleased were they. But then a strange thing happened, the wairua (spirit or soul) of Maui in some unexplained way re-entered his body, and so he was restored to life. Thus it is that the word whakamaui, to act in a Maui-like manner, is employed by the Tuhoe folk to describe a recovery from a serious illness, the patient has returned from death as Maui did. In the Tuhoe version Maui is accompanied by the multitudes of forest-dwelling beings known as the Hakuturi and Mahoihoi when he sets forth to overcome Hine. A South Island version ends with the remark—"If Maui had succeeded then man would not have known death, both Maori and white man would have lived forever!" The old sage Pio of Te Teko remarked to me that it was the tawhito (genitals) of Hine-nui-te-po that destroyed the person who had meddled with her younger sister's children, an allusion to the destroying of the Fire Children by Maui.
In the version collected and published by Sir George Grey, our hero Maui is said to have set off to seek Hine who could be seen flashing on the horizon. A peculiar remark this, as pertaining to a being said to dwell in the underworld; did the Dawn Maid leave some of her glory gleaming on the horizon. Maui told his companions that if he succeeded in passing through the body of page 384Hine, emerging from her mouth, then he would survive and Hine would succumb. In this version Maui essayed this last great task of his in human form, not in that of a bird, but the laugh of the tiwakawaka or fantail brought death to him. The version published in Te Ika a Maui is a brief and lame one.
In yet another version we are told that the waning moon goes afar off to bathe in the Waiora-a-Tane, the life giving waters of Tane, as the expression is usually rendered, wherein it is revived and so regains its vigour and youth; this was the 'moon-like death' that Maui sought to establish. White's recitals of this myth are brief and unsatisfactory, and that given by Wohlers is contained in five lines. Pakauwera of Ngato-Kuia gave a brief account in which he mentioned Taranga as the companion of Maui during his adventure with Hine.
In his various changes into other forms during his marvellous adventures Maui is said to have assumed those of the harrier, sparrow-hawk, owl, kea, bat, pigeon, rat, and earthworm.
The description of Hine-nui-te-po is spoilt in one published version by the statement that her mouth resembled that of a shark (mango), while in another it is said to have been like that of a barracoota (manga). The narrator or translator probably missed the point as it appears in other recitals, that the teeth of Hine resembled those of the mako shark, which are remarkably white and are much admired by the Maori and so used as ear pendants. Hine-nui-te-po is but another name of Hine-titama, the Dawn Maid, whose beauty has been acclaimed by man since the days of the gods. The above described encounter between Maui and Hine does not seem to be known in the isles of Polynesia.
The feat of Maui in entering the body of the so-called goddess of death in order to abolish death represents a singular and interesting concept. Had Maui merely wished to destroy Hine then presumably we would have been told that he slew her as she slept. The fact that it was necessary for him to enter her body in such a strange manner, and to pass out again, tends to show that the evolvers of the myth had formulated some strange conception of what was necessary in order to stay the hand of death. It is in popular belief only that Hine-nui-te-po is held to destroy man; the esoteric teaching was to the effect that Hine is the guardian of spirits of the dead, but that Whiro and the Maiki brothers are responsible for death in the upper world. It may be well to draw attention to a singular parallel that occurs in Rarotongan myth, which may be found at p. 180 of vol. 27 of the Journal of the page 385Polynesian Society. Kuiono of the homeland died and his spirit went to Tiki in the great place called the Karo-tuatini of Tu-te-rangi-marama, at Avaiki. One Ngati-ariki passed through the lifeless body of Kuiono, and, when he emerged, captured the spirit thereof and replaced it in the lifeless body, then Kui came to life again. Here again there is no explanation of why it was necessary that a person should pass through the body of another. Our Maui-Hine myth is generally explained as Light overcome by Darkness, but why should it be necessary for Light (Maui) to actually enter Darkness (Hine) if the contest was merely one for supremacy; Hine might, have overcome Maui in a much less abnormal and spectacular manner. Tylor thought that the act of Maui was based on the Maori belief that the sun passes through the underworld each night, bathes in the Wai-ora-a-Tane, and so returns each morning to the upper world, so Maui essayed to pass through darkness and return to light in manner symbolical. Tylor's statement that the fantail, the bird that laughed at Maui, is a bird that is 'only heard at sunset', shows that he has been misinformed. This writer was confident that the Maui myths are sun myths. He saw Day and Night striving against each other in the myth of Maui and Hine, the vanishing of night when Taranga left the upper world each' morning, a dawn myth in the hauling of land from ocean deeps, and the rising of the sun in the Maui-Mahuika myth. The last three examples of deduction are by no means clear to ordinary minds (Tylor, E. B., Primitive Culture, vol. 1, pp. 302-4).
Dieffenbach gives us nothing of note concerning the Maui myths, and indeed he seems to stress the likelihood of his being a man (Travels in New Zealand, vol. 2, pp. 88-9). Hochstetter has more to say, albeit he strays from the path of rectitude. He gives Tuna the name of Tunarua, and refers to a remark made by Schirren to the effect that "we must not search for historical truth in Maori tradition". If, for tradition, we insert the term "folk lore" or folk tales, then the remark becomes a sound one. Hochstetter wrote well when he stated that "the adventures and incidents of the heroes are traceable to natural phenomena". When, however, he tells us that the traditions of the migrations of the New Zealanders are nothing but versions of the Maui myths, that Maui was god of the lower regions, the first man, lord of water, air and sky, and that Maui represents the national deity of all the Polynesian tribes—then we know that, like many travellers, he had not dug deep enough (Hochstetter, New Zealand, pp. 202-3).page 386
At p. 176 of vol. 3 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, occurs a statement made by Macdonald to the effect that Maui-tikitiki is known to the people of Efate isle in the New Hebrides, and that they also know the Polynesian story of Tawhaki and Karihi. At Niue isle Maui is said to have raised the island from the ocean and to have supported the sky.
* This name of Tapu-te-ranga is said to pertain to a place in the racial homeland. It is also the name of Watchman isle at Napier, and of the islet at Island Bay, Wellington. It is one of many far-carried names, others are Rangiatea, Tawhitinui, Matangireia, Whitireia, Hikurangi, Aorangi.