Myths and Legends you have to know about Maui
Maui may gain more popularity today more than ever, thanks to Disney’s newest animated hit ‘Moana’. But, the story presented in the film is just the tip of the much more colorful mythology of the Polynesians.
These Ancient Hawaiian legends, myths and stories are important cultural pieces passed down from one generation to the next, often through storytelling, that highlight important tales of how the Hawaiian Islands were formed, where they got their name, and what each should be remembered for. Maui, for example, was named after the great god/demigod (accounts still disagree with each other) and one of the protagonists of the much-loved blockbuster hit.
The Legend of Maui
Maui, god (or demigod) has been a household name in the Polynesian islands—Maui, Hawaii was named after him too! According to the legends, he is an incredibly strong entity that shaped the islands, with the help of his magical fish hook. Indeed, he is portrayed a hero in the Polynesian folklore and mythology.
Many variations about the epic of Maui, but there are two narratives that remain consistent throughout the regions.
The first story is about how the legendary Maui hauled up the islands. Although details of this ‘creation’ vary from different sources, the story goes like this: Maui convinced his brothers to take him out fishing. While they were fishing, Maui caught his magical fishing hook on the ocean floor and convinced his brothers to paddle as hard as they could to catch a big fish. Instead of catching a fish, Maui intentionally used his brothers to create several islands, which later became the Hawaiian islands.
While the other generally agreed upon story is about how he lassoed the sun, restraining it to extend the days of his people. According to the legends, he used his sister’s hair to grab hold of it. Through his mother, the sun was punished until it agreed to give the islands long days in the summer and short days in the winter. In another legend, Maui restrains the sun not just to help his mother but to help all mortals get their work done.
There are many other stories about Maui, but the general theme throughout these legends is that Maui is a powerful if not at times reckless guardian and helper of mortals.
The Legend of the Naupaka Flower
One of Hawaii’s most common flowers spotted along its beach, the Naupaka Flower has also its share of legends and magical stories.
Being a half flower with missing petals, the early Hawaiians believed it was the incarnation of an ancient native separated from her lover.
A beautiful Hawaiian princess named Naupaka was sad. She fell in love with a fisherman named Kaui, a commoner and not of noble birth. For this, their love was forbidden; royalty was never meant to marry those with no royalty in their blood.
Knowing they could not be together, they embraced for one final time and she took the flower from her ear and tore it in half, giving one half to Kaui to go live down by the water while she stayed up in the mountains. Nearby Naupaka plants saw their sadness and began to bloom in half flowers ever since.
The Red Waters of Wai’anapanapa
The legend of the red waters of wai’anapanapa revolves around the story of A beautiful young princess named Popoalaea.
With her looks and charm, she caught the attention of a powerful, older warrior chief named Kakae. They were married.
Because of Popoalaea’s looks, many admired her beauty and elegance. Kakae became jealous and suspicious, he always thinks that his wife was cheating on him.
Popoalaea’s life with her husband became miserable. He was always beating her. Wanting to escape his evil ways, she fleed with one of her female friends to a lava cave at Wai’anapanapa, hidden by a pool of water at the entrance of the cave.
Desperate to find his runaway wife, Kakae furiously discovered their reflections in the pool of water, ordering his men to kill them both, darkening the rocks of the cavern with blood.
Today, it’s said that on certain nights, the water appears red, perhaps due to the gathering of the red opae-ula (tiny shrimp) in addition to a reminder of the blood of the slain princess.
The culture of Hawaii is colorful and filled with wonderful stories of love, adventure and magic. These stories are one more reason why you should visit the islands at least once in your life.