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Maui

Maaui-tikitiki, as he was known in AoTeAroa, the land of the long white cloud, was a superb fisherman. Maui was abandoned by his mother Hina of Fire, when he was an infant. She wrapped him in her hair and cast him upon the sea, where she expected him to die. However, Maui survived and returned home to become her favorite son. She knew then that he was a born hero and had strength far beyond that of mortal men.

Maui's greatest adventure was snaring the sun and ensuring that it would go slower across the heavens. In Hawaii, Maui's mother Hina complained that the sun traveled too fast across the sky. She barely had time each short day, to attend to the myriad of chores nor dry her tapa cloths. The people had complained that there were not enough daylight hours to fish or farm.

When Hina asked her son to help, Maui went to his blind grandmother for assistance. She lived on the slopes of Haleakala and was responsible for cooking the sun's bananas that the sun ate in each day. She told him to, using his sister's hair, weave sixteen strong ropes and nooses. Maui positioned himself behind a big rock on the highest peak of the island, and as each of the rays of the sun came across Haleakala, Maui lassoed them with the rope until the sun was defenseless and had to bargain for his life. Maui agreed to free him if he promised to go more slowly. The sun promised to change its habits, Consequently, on the island that now bears Maui's name, the mountain is called Haleakala, House Of The Sun, and the days on that island are always long

Maui's other adventures include lifting the sky. In those days the sky hung so low that men had to crawl around on all fours. A young woman approached Maui and asked him to use his great strength to lift the sky. In fine heroic fashion Maui agreed if the beautiful woman would give him a drink from her gourd. He then obliged her by lifting the sky.

Because land and space for humans were limited at that time, Maui decided that more land was needed and he conspired to acquire more. He descended into the land of the dead and petitioned an ancestress to fashion him a hook out of her jawbone. She obliged, and created the mythical hook Manai ikalanai.

Maui then secured a sacred bird, the alae that he intended to use for bait. He bid his brothers to paddle him far out to sea, and when he arrived at the deepest spot, he lowered Manai ikalani baited with the sacred bird. His sister, Hina of the Sea, placed it into the mouth of "Old One Tooth" who held land fast to the bottom of the waters.

Maui them exhorted his brothers to row and warned them not to look back. Through their efforts, a great land mass slowly rose. Unfortunately, one brother, overcome by curiosity, looked back; suddenly the land mass began to shatter into all of the islands of Polynesia.

Maui desired to serve others further and had more deeds for humanity. People were without fire as the secret to making fire was held by the sacred alae, who had learned it from Maui's beneficent ancestress. The ancestress had tried to instruct Maui how to produce fire, but Maui failed to properly learn. She had given Maui her burning fingernails, but he clumsily kept dropping the fingernails into the rivers until their power had fizzled in the water. Because this annoyed the ancestress, she pursued Maui and tried to burn him into ashes.

Maui desperately chanted for rain to put out her scorching fires. When she saw the rain falling and fires, she hid her fire in the barks of special trees and informed common mud hens where they could be found, but first made them promise never to tell humans.

Maui learned of the hiding place for fire and captured a mud hen, threatening to wring the hen's neck unless it gave up the secret. The sly bird lied and told Maui to rub together the stems of sugar cane, then banana and even taro. Maui rubbed these plants together earnestly until the plants had hollow roots, as they still do today.

Finally, with Maui's hands tightening around the mud hen's neck, the bird confessed that fire could be found in the hau tree and also the sandalwood, which Maui named ili aha (fire bark). Maui then rubbed all the feathers of the mud hen's head for being so deceitful, and that's why their crown is featherless today.

Maui's adventures also extend from Hawaii into AoTeAroa (New Zealand) where he was known as Maaui-tikitiki. In this land of the long white cloud, Maui used a hook made from the jawbone of an ancestor and blood from his own nose as bait, to catch the porch of a carved house on the ocean floor. Drawing in the line with superhuman strength, he pulled up not only the porch and the house, but an entire body of land. Today, Maoris call that land, the North Island of New Zealand, Te Ika-a-Maaui, the fish of Maaui. Look at a map and you will see its head facing south, its tail stretching north.