Maui--Part Trickster, Part Superhero!

Māui – Part Trickster / Part Superhero

            Our island is named after one of the most well-known and notorious Kupua (demi-gods): Māui. Did you know that Māui is actually a Polynesian demi-god before we in Hawaii made him our own?

            Māui was one of four sons, born to Hina-a-keahi (Hina of the fire) and Akalana. All Hina’s sons were named Maui: Māui-imua (the first), Māui-waena (the middle), Māui-iki-iki (the little one) and the youngest Maui-akamai (the smartest), who our island is named after. Many stories and myths were told about Maui-akamai; here are a few of them:

            Legend has it that Māui-akamai, was kolohe (mischievous and naughty) from birth. So much so that his mother sent him to be raised in the sacred lands of Kuaihelani, a floating island. Kuaihelani was the home of Kane and Kanaloa two of the main Akua (major gods) of Polynesia. Māui-akamai spent several years on this mythical island and learned as much as he could from these great gods. When he decided that he had learned enough, he stole the secret of making awa and brought back the flexible bamboo plant to his home.

            Māui-akamai was given a magic hook by his father. He took his brothers with him out to sea and cast out the hook. He told his brothers to paddle towards home and not look back. The paddling got harder and harder and the brothers struggled to make headway. One of the brothers turned back to see why and saw that they had been pulling up islands from the sea. But the spell of the hook disappeared because of this. This is how the Hawaiian Islands came to be and why they are no larger.

            One of his most famous stories has to do with the sun. His mother was a fine kapa maker who made many fine clothes for Maui. The making of kapa was a lengthy process. This was made even more so as the sun raced across the sky not allowing the kapa to dry. Hina-a-keahi, Maui’s mother spoke to Māui-akamai about her problem with the sun. She told him to go to his wise grandmother, Mahule and ask for help. Mahule lived on Haleakala mountain and Māui-akamai traveled the long steep climb up to the great mountain to reach her. He asked his grandmother for help and she gave him a magic adze and a strong rope.


 She made her grandson hide in the roots of a tree to wait for the sun. After many hours Māui-akamai heard the crow of a rooster and looked up to see the sun slinking over the edge of Halekala and getting ready to race across the sky. Māui sprang from where he hid and threw the rope around the sun. Kāla (the sun) became entangled in the ropes and strained to escape. Māui then beat the sun with the adze until it begged for mercy. It was then that Māui made the sun promise never again to race across the sky. From then on, Hina-a-keahi could completely dry her kapa in the sun as the days were now much longer.

When not in use, Māui-akamai would throw his magic fishhook into the heavens. Hawaiians know this constellation as Māui’s hook; others know it as the constellation scorpio. So when you look into the night sky and see the “hook”, know that the kolohe Māui-akamai is at rest. Many other stories and legends are told of the this kupua; so much so that to us he is known as the one, the only, Hawaiian superman!

A hui hou,

Anty Kalei