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In ancient times, information was passed from generation to generation through song, dance and story-telling. The written word did not exist. If, 250 years ago, someone asked an islander to tell them about the island of Maui, Hawaii, this is what they would have heard...

The Demigod Maui

Centuries ago, there was born the Demigod Maui. His father held the heavens and his mother guarded the path to the Netherworld.

The Demigod Maui was said to be the smallest of the family. He was the quickest of mind and had an extremely rascally nature about him. It is said too that Maui was not a good fisherman. His brothers were far more skilled. They would laugh at him and his lack of success.

In revenge, Maui would sometimes use his cunning to fill his boat with catch at his brothers expense. He would position his boat so that when one of his brothers began to pull in a fish, he would distract them so that he could pull his line across theirs stealing their fish.

Maui's brothers could only marvel at their younger brother. However they soon caught on and refused to take him fishing with them. Maui was very distressed, so his mother then sent him to his father to obtain a magic hook.

The Demigod Maui with his magical hook in the ocean, creating the Hawaiian Islands"Go to your father. There you will recieve the hook called Manaiakalani, the hook fastened to the heavens. When the hook catches land, it will raise the old seas together."

Maui returned with his hook and asked his brothers to let him join in another fishing expedition. They only laughed and threw him out of the boat. When they returned, they were empty handed. Maui berated them. He stated that if they had allowed him to join them, they would have had more success. The brothers decided to allow him to join them in their canoe for another chance.

They paddled far into the ocean and threw their lines overboard. To their dismay, they only caught sharks. The brothers ridiculed Maui asking "Where are the fish you promised?"

Maui then rose and threw his magical hook into the ocean. Chanting a spell of power, he commanded the hook to catch the Great Fish.


At once the sea began to move. Great waves rose around the canoe. Maui commanded his brothers to paddle with all their might and to not look back. For two days, Maui held taut the magic line and hook while his brothers kept paddling furiously. Suddenly from below the depths arose the tops of great mountains in a series of peaks that broke the surface of the ocean. Maui reminded his brothers to keep paddling mightly. Maui pulled against the line and forced the peaks even farther out of the water.

Finally, one of his brothers could resist no longer. He gazed back in awe at the sight of the rising land, dropping the paddle as he did so. as soon as he stopped paddling, the magic line began to slacken in Maui's hands. Before he could call out to his brothers, the line snapped and the magic hook was lost forever beneath the sea.

Maui chastised his brothers for their failure to paddle as he had commanded. "I had endeavoured to raise a great continent but because of your weakness I have only these islands to show for all my efforts."

And this is how Maui and the surrounding islands formed....

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