The Legend of Maui and Fire

Maui thought that he would extinguish and destroy the fires of his ancestress of Mahu-ika.

So he got up in the night, and put out the fires left in the cooking-houses of each family in the village; then, quite early in the morning, he called aloud to the servants: 'I hunger, I hunger; quick, cook some food for me.'

One of the servants thereupon ran as fast as he could to make up the fire to cook some food, but the fire was out; and as he ran round from house to house in the village to get a light, he found every fire quite out-he could nowhere get a light.

When Maui mother heard this, she called out to the servants, and said: 'Some of you repair to my great ancestress Mahu-ika; tell her that fire has been lost upon earth, and ask her to give some to the world again.'

But the slaves were alarmed, and refused to obey the commands which their masters, the sacred old people gave them; and they persisted in refusing to go, notwithstanding the old people repeatedly ordered them to do so.

At last, Maui said to his mother: 'Well, then I will fetch down fire for the world; but which is the path by which I must go?’

His his parents, who knew the country well, said to him: 'If you will go, follow that broad path that lies just before you there; and you will at last reach the dwelling of an ancestress of yours; and if she asks you who you are, you had better call out your name to her, then she will know you are a descendant of hers; but be cautious, and do not play any tricks with her, because we have heard that your deeds are greater than the deeds of men, and that you are fond of deceiving and injuring others, and perhaps you even now intend in many ways, to deceive this old ancestress of yours, but pray be cautious not to do so.'

But Maui said: 'No, I only want to bring fire away for men, that is all, and I'll return again as soon as I can do that.'

Then he went, and reached the abode of the goddess of fire; and he was so filled with wonder at what he saw, that for a long time he could say nothing.

At last he said: 'Oh, lady, would you rise up? Where is your fire kept? I have come to beg some from you.'

Then the aged lady rose right up, and said: 'Au-e! who can this mortal be?

And he answered: 'It's I.'

'Where do you come from? she asked.

Maui he answered: 'I belong to this country.'

'You are not from this country', said she; 'your appearance is not like that of the inhabitants of this country. Do you come from the north-east?

He replied: 'No.'

'Do you come from the south-east?

He replied: 'No.'

'Are you from the south?

He replied: 'No.'

'Are you from the westward?

He answered: 'No.'

'Come you, then, from the direction of the wind which blows right upon me?

And he said: I do.'

'Oh, then', cried she, 'you are my grand-child; what do you want here?

He answered: 'I am come to beg fire from you.'

She replied: 'Welcome, welcome; here then is fire for you.'

Then the aged woman pulled out her nail; and as she pulled it out fire flowed from it, and she gave it to him. When Maui saw she had drawn out her nail to produce fire for him, he thought it a most wonderful thing!

Then he went a short distance off, and when not very far from her, he put the fire out, quite out; and returning to her again, said: 'The light you gave me has gone out, give me another.'

Then she caught hold of another nail, and pulled it out as a light for him; and he left her, and went a little on one side, and put that light out also; then he went back to her again, and said: 'Oh, lady, give me, I pray you, another light for the last one has also gone out.'

And thus he went on and on, until she had pulled out all the nails of the fingers of one of her hands; and then she began with the other hand, until she had pulled all the fingernails out of that hand, too; and then she commenced upon the nails of her feet, and pulled them also out in the same manner, except the nail of one of her big toes.

Then the aged woman said to herself at last: 'This fellow is surely playing tricks with me.'

Then out she pulled the one toe-nail that she had left, and it, too, became fire, and as she dashed it down on the ground the whole place caught fire.

And she cried out to Maui: 'There, you have it all now!'

And Maui ran off, and made a rush to escape, but the fire followed hard after him, close behind him; so he changed himself into a fleet-winged eagle, and flew with rapid flight, but the fire pursued, and almost caught him as he flew.

Then the eagle dashed down into a pool of water; but when he got into the water he found that almost boiling too: the forests just then also caught fire, so that it could not alight anywhere, and the earth and the sea both caught fire too, and Maui was very near perishing in the flames.

Then he called on his ancestors Tawhiri-ma-tea and Whatitiri-matakataka, to send down an abundant supply of water, and he cried aloud: 'Oh, let water be given to me to quench this fire which pursues after me'; and lo, then appeared squalls and gales, and Tawhiri-ma-tea sent heavy lasting rain, and the fire was quenched; and before Mahu-ika could reach her place of shelter, she almost perished in the rain, and her shrieks and screams became as loud as those of Maui had been, when he was scorched by the pursuing fire; thus Maui ended this proceeding.

In this manner was extinguished the fire of Mahu-ika, the guardian of fire; but before it was all lost, she saved a few sparks which she threw, to protect them, into the Kaiko-mako, and a few other trees, where they are still cherished; hence, men yet use portions of the wood of these trees for fire when they require a light.

Then he returned to the village, and his mother and father said to him: 'You heard when we warned you before you went, nevertheless you played tricks with your ancestress; it served you right that you got into such trouble';

Maui answered his parents: 'Oh, what do I care for that; do you think that my perverse proceedings are put a stop to by this? certainly not; I intend to go on in the same way for ever, ever, ever.'

His father answered him: 'Yes, then, you may just please yourself about living or dying; if you will only attend to me you will save your life; if you do not attend to what I say, it will be worse for you, that is all.'

As soon as this conversation was ended, off he went to find some more companions for his other adventures.

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