The Legend of Maui Goes Fishing

One day his brothers went out fishing, whilst Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga stopped idly at home doing nothing, although indeed he had to listen to the sulky grumblings

 of his wives and children, at his laziness in not catching fish for them.

Then he called out to the women, 'Never mind, oh, mothers, yourselves and your children need not fear. Have not I accomplished all things, and as for this little feat, this trifling work of getting food for you, do you think I cannot do that? certainly; if I go and get a fish for you, it will be one so large that when I bring it to land you will not be able to eat it all, and the sun will shine on it and make it putrid before it is consumed.'

Then Maui snooded his enchanted fish-hook, which was pointed with part of the jaw-bone of Muri-ranga-whenua, and when he had finished this, he twisted a stout fishing-line to his hook.

His brothers in the meantime had arranged amongst themselves to make fast the lashings of the top side of their canoe, in order to go out for a good day's fishing.

When all was made ready they launched their canoe, and as soon as it was afloat Maui jumped into it, and his brothers, who were afraid of his enchantments, cried out: 'Come, get out again, we will not let you go with us; your magical arts will get us into some difficulty.'

So he was compelled to remain ashore whilst his brothers paddled off, and when they reached the fishing ground they lay upon their paddles and fished, and after a good day's sport returned ashore.

As soon as it was dark night Maui went down to the shore, got into his brothers' canoe, and hid himself under the bottom boards of it.

The next forenoon his brothers came down to the shore to go fishing again, and they had their canoe launched, and paddled out to sea without ever seeing Maui, who lay hid in the hollow of the canoe under the bottom boards.

When they got well out to sea Maui crept out of his hiding place; as soon as his brothers saw him, they said: 'We had better get back to the shore again as fast as we can, since this fellow is on board'

But Maui, by his enchantments, stretched out the sea so that the shore instantly became very distant from them, and by the time they could turn themselves round to look for it, it was out of view.

Maui now said to them: 'You had better let me go on with you, I shall at least be useful to bail the water out of our canoe.'

To this they consented, and they paddled on again and speedily arrived at the fishing ground where they used to fish upon former occasions.

As soon as they got there his brothers said: 'Let us drop the anchor and fish here'

Maui answered: 'Oh no, don't; we had much better paddle a long distance farther out.'

Upon this they paddled on, and paddled as far as the farthest fishing ground, a long way out to sea, and then his brothers at last say: 'Come now, we must drop anchor and fish here.'

And he replies again: 'Oh, the fish here are very fine I suppose, but we had much better pull right out to sea, and drop anchor there. If we go out to the place where I wish the anchor to be let go, before you can get a hook to the bottom, a fish will come following it back to the top of the water. You won't have to stop there a longer time than you can wink your eye in, and our canoe will come back to shore full of fish.'

As soon as they hear this they paddle away--they paddle away until they reach a very long distance off, and his brothers then say: 'We are now far enough.'

And he replies: 'No, no, let us go out of sight of land, and when we have quite lost sight of it, then let the anchor be dropped, but let it be very far off, quite out in the open sea.'

At last they reach the open sea, and his brothers begin to fish. Lo, lo, they had hardly let their hooks down to the bottom, when they each pulled up a fish into the canoe. Twice only they let down their lines, when behold the canoe was filled up with the number of fish they had caught.

Then his brothers said: 'Oh, brother, let us all return now.'

And he answered them: 'Stay a little; let me also throw my hook into the sea.'

His brothers replied: 'Where did you get a hook?

And he answered: 'Oh, never mind, I have a hook of my own.'

His brothers replied again: 'Make haste and throw it then.'

As he pulled it out from under his garments, the light flashed from the beautiful mother-of-pearl shell in the hollow of the hook, and his brothers saw that the hook was carved and ornamented with tufts of hair pulled from the tail of a dog, and it looked exceedingly beautiful.

Maui then asked his brothers to give him a little bait to bait his hook with; but they replied: 'We will not give you any of our bait.'

So he doubled his fist and struck his nose violently, and the blood gushed out, and he smeared his hook with his own blood for bait, and then be cast it into the sea, and it sank down, and sank down, till it reached to the small carved figure on the roof of a house at the bottom of the sea, then passing by the figure, it descended along the outside carved rafters of the roof, and fell in at the doorway of the house, and the hook of Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga caught first in the sill of the doorway.

Then, feeling something on his hook, he began to haul in his line. Ah, ah!--there ascended on his hook the house of that old fellow Tonga-nui. It came up, up; and as it rose high, oh, dear! how his hook was strained with its great weight; and then there came gurgling up foam and bubbles from the earth, as of an island emerging from the water, and his brothers opened their mouths and cried aloud.

Maui all this time continued to chant forth his incantations amidst the murmurings and wailings of his brothers, who were weeping and lamenting, and saying: 'See now, how he has brought us out into the open sea, that we may be upset in it, and devoured by the fish.'

Then he raised aloud his voice, and repeated the incantation called Hiki which makes heavy weights fight, in order that the fish he had caught might come up easily, and he chanted an incantation beginning thus:

'Wherefore, then, oh! Tonga-nui,Dost thou hold fast so obstinately below there?'

When he had finished his incantation, there floated up, hanging to his line, the fish of Maui, a portion of the earth, of Papa-tu-a-Nuku.

Alas! alas! their canoe lay aground.

Maui then left his brothers with their canoe, and returned to the village; but before he went he said to them: 'After I am gone, be courageous and patient; do not eat food until I return, and do not let our fish be cut up, but rather leave it until I have carried an offering to the gods from this great haul of fish, and until I have found a priest, that fitting prayers and sacrifices may be offered to the god, and the necessary rites be completed in order. We shall thus all be purified. I will then return, and we can cut up this fish in safety, and it shall be fairly portioned out to this one, and to that one, and to that other; and on my arrival you shall each have your due share of it, and return to your homes joyfully; and what we leave behind us will keep good, and that which we take away With us, returning, will be good too.'

Maui had hardly gone, after saying all this to them, then his brothers trampled under their feet the words they had heard him speak. They began at once to eat food, and to cut up the fish.

When they did this, Maui had not yet arrived at the sacred place, in the presence of the god; had he previously reached the sacred place, the heart of the deity would have been appeased with the offering of a portion of the fish which had been caught by his disciples, and all the male and female deities would have partaken of their portions of the sacrifice. Alas! alas! those foolish, thoughtless brothers of his cut up the fish, and behold the gods turned with wrath upon them, on account of the fish which they had thus cut up without having made a fitting sacrifice. Then indeed, the fish began to toss about his head from side to side, and to lash his tail, and the fins upon his back, and his lower jaw. Ah! ah! well done Tangaroa, it springs about on shore as briskly as if it was in the water.

That is the reason that this island is now so rough and uneven--that here stands a mountain--and there lies a plain--that here descends a valley--that there rises a cliff. If the brothers of Maui had not acted so deceitfully, the huge fish would have lain flat and smooth, and would have remained as a model for the rest of the earth, for the present generation of men. This, which has just been recounted, is the second evil which took place after the separation of Heaven from Earth.

Thus was dry land fished up by Maui after it had been hidden under the ocean by Rangi and Tawhiri-ma-tea. It was with an enchanted fish-hook that he drew it up, which was pointed with a bit of the jaw-bone of his ancestress Muri-ranga-whenua; and in the district of Heretaunga they still show the fish-hook of Maui, which became a cape stretching far out into the sea, and now forms the southern extremity of Hawke's Bay.

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