The Legend of Maui and the Sun

Maui, had not been long at home with his brothers when he began to think, that it was too soon after the rising of the sun that it became night again, and that the sun again sank down

 below the horizon, every day, every day; in the same manner the days appeared too short to him.

So at last, one day he said to his brothers: 'Let us now catch the sun in a noose, so that we may compel him to move more slowly, in order that mankind may have long days to labour in to procure subsistence for themselves'

They answered him: 'Why, no man could approach it on account of its warmth, and the fierceness of its heat'

Maui said to them: 'Have you not seen the multitude of things I have already achieved? Did not you see me change myself into the likeness of every bird of the forest; you and I equally had the aspect and appearance of men, yet I by my enchantments changed suddenly from the appearance of a man and became a bird, and then, continuing to change my form, I resembled this bird or that bird, one after the other, until I had by degrees transformed myself into every bird in the world, small or great; and did I not after all this again assume the form of a man? [This he did soon after he was born, and it was after that he snared the sun.] Therefore, as for that feat, oh, my brothers, the changing myself into birds, I accomplished it by enchantments, and I will by the same means accomplish also this other thing which I have in my mind.'

When his brothers heard this, they consented on his persuasions to aid him in the conquest of the sun.

Then they began to spin and twist ropes to form a noose to catch the sun in, and in doing this they discovered the mode of plaiting flax into stout square-shaped ropes, (tuamaka); and the manner of plaiting flat ropes, (paharahara); and of spinning round ropes; at last, they finished making all the ropes which they required.

Then Maui took up his enchanted weapon, and he took his brothers with him, and they carried their provisions, ropes, and other things with them, in their hands.

They travelled all night, and as soon as day broke, they halted in the desert, and hid themselves that they might not be seen by the sun; and at night they renewed their journey, and before dawn they halted, and hid themselves again; at length they got very far, very far, to the eastward, and came to the very edge of the place out of which the sun rises.

They set to work and built on each side of this place a long high wall of clay, with huts of boughs of trees at each end to hide themselves in; when these were finished, they made the loops of the noose, and the brothers of Maui then lay in wait on one side of the place out of which the sun rises, and Maui himself lay in wait upon the other side.

Maui held in his hand his enchanted weapon, the jaw-bone of his ancestress of Muri-ranga-whenua, and said to his brothers: 'Mind now, keep yourselves hid, and do not go showing yourselves foolishly to the sun; if you do, you will frighten him; but wait patiently until his head and fore-legs have got well into the snare, then I will shout out; haul away as hard as you can on the ropes on both sides, and then I'll rush out and attack him, but do you keep your ropes tight for a good long time (while I attack him), until he is nearly dead, when we will let him go; but mind, now, my brothers, do not let him move you to pity with his shrieks and screams.'

At last the sun came rising up out of his place, like a fire spreading far and wide over the mountains and forests; he rises up, his head passes through the noose, and it takes in more and more of his body, until his fore-paws pass through; then were pulled tight the ropes, and the monster began to struggle and roll himself about, whilst the snare jerked backwards and forwards as he struggled. Ah! was not he held fast in the ropes of his enemies!

Then forth rushed Mau-tikitiki-o-Taranga, with his enchanted weapon. Alas! the sun screams aloud; he roars; Maui strikes him fiercely with many blows; they hold him for a long time, at last they let him go, and then weak from wounds the sun crept along its course.

Then was learnt by men the second name of the sun, for in its agony the sun screamed out: 'Why am I thus smitten by you! oh, man! do you know what you are doing? Why should you wish to kill Tama-nui-te-Ra?’

Thus was learnt his second name. At last they let him go. Oh, then, Tama-nui-te-Ra went very slowly and feebly on his course.

Maui-taha and his brothers after this feat returned again to their own house.

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