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Maui and Pele Create Hawai’i

Maui and Pele Create Hawai’i
Maui and Pele Create Hawai’i

A retelling of a Hawaiian legend.

The god Maui was the smallest but smartest of his brothers, who often made fun of him because he couldn’t fish very well.

Sometimes Maui would go out on a boat with his brothers, distract them when they had a fish on the line, and steal it from them, claiming it as his own. But soon his brothers caught on, and wouldn’t let Maui fish with them any longer.

Maui’s mother, taking pity on him, told Maui to go and fetch a magical hook, fastened to the heavens. When the hook catches land, it will raise the land from the bottom of the sea floor.

When he got the hook, Maui begged his brothers to take him out just once more.  He wanted to prove he was the best fisherman of all.

Maui cast his line into the sea, and soon enough, he hooked it on land. The sea began to move, and great waves rose all around them. Maui commanded his panicked brothers to paddle harder and harder, and not to look back. Maui pulled and pulled, and soon mountaintops began to rise from the ocean. But one of Maui’s brothers was too curious, and he looked back in awe at what Maui had done.

The spell was broken, and the magical line broke, leaving only the mountaintops visible above the ocean.

And that is how the Hawaiian Islands were born. They were only mountains then, until Pele brought her fire to Hawai’i.

Pele was born from the supreme beings, Papa, or Earth Mother, and Wakea, (Wah-Kay-uh) Sky Father. Pele was among the first voyagers to sail to Hawai'i from her homeland Tahiti in a canoe guided by her shark-god brother. Pele saw a high mountain with a cloudy haze hiding its peak and knew she had found her new home. She named the island Hawai'i.

Pele, carrying her magic stick Pa'oa (pay-oh-uh), went up to the mountain where a part of the earth collapsed into the ground. She placed the stick into the ground, and fire began to erupt from the mountain. Pele called this place Kilauea (kill-u-ay-uh). Inside the Kilauea crater was a large pit. She named it Halema'uma'u (halemma-uma-oo). Halema'uma'u would be her new home.

A cliff on nearby Kilauea Mountain is sacred to her eldest brother, Ka-moho-ali'I (ka-moho-alee-he), king of the sharks and the keeper of the gourd that held the water of life. Out of respect for this brother, to this day, Pele never allows clouds of volcanic steam to touch his cliff.

Pele still lives on Hawai'i where she rules as the fire goddess of the volcanoes. The smell of sulfur reminds the natives that she is still there in her home, Halema'uma'u, her fiery lava building a new island to the south, still submerged, named Loahi (lo-uh-hi). Those present whisper in awe:

Ae aia [ay eye-ah] la o Pele, there is Pele.

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