Legends of Maui, A Demi-God of Polynesia, by W. D. Westervelt, , at sacred-texts.com
THE Wailuku river has by its banks far up the mountain side some of the most ancient of the various interesting picture rocks of the Hawaiian Islands. The origin of the Hawaiian picture writing is a problem still unsolved, but the picture rocks of the Wailuku river are called "na kii o Maui," "the Maui pictures." Their antiquity is beyond question.
The most prominent figure cut in these rocks is that of the crescent moon. The Hawaiian legends do not attempt any direct explanation of the meaning of this picture writing. The traditions of the Polynesians both concerning Hina and Matti look to Hina as the moon goddess of their ancestors, and in some measure the Hawaiian stories confirm the traditions of the other island groups of the Pacific.
Fornander, in his history of the Polynesian race, gives the Hawaiian story of Hina's ascent to the moon, but applies it to a Hina the wife of a chief called Aikanaka rather than to the Hina of Hilo, the wife of Akalana, the father of Maui. However, Fornander evidently found some difficulty in determining the status of the one to whom he refers the legend, for he calls her "the mysterious wife of Aikanaka." In some of the Hawaiian legends Hina, the mother of Maui, lived on the southeast coast of the Island Maui at the foot of a hill famous in Hawaiian story as Kauiki. Fornander says that this "mysterious wife" of Aikanaka bore her children Puna and Huna, the latter a noted sea-rover among the Polynesians, at the foot of this hill Kauiki. It can very easily be supposed that a legend of the Ilina connected with the demi-god Maui might be given during the course of centuries to the other Hina, the mother of Huna. The application of the legend would make no difference to anyone were it not for the fact that the story of Hina and her ascent to the moon has been handed down in different forms among the traditions of Samoa, New Zealand, Tonga, Hervey Islands, Fate Islands, Nauru and other Pacific island groups. The Polynesian name of the moon, Mahina or Masina, is derived from Hina, the goddess mother of Matii. It is even possible to trace the name back to "Sin," the moon god of the Assyrians.
The moon goddess of Ponape was Ina-inaram. (Hawaiian Hina-malamalama), "Hina giving light."
In the Paumotan Islands an eclipse of the sun is called Higa-higa-hana (Hina-hiua-hana), "The act (hana) of Hina-the moon."
In New Zealand moonless nights were called "Dark Hina."
In Tahiti it is said there was war among the gods. They cursed the stars. Hina saved them, although they lost a little light. Then they cursed the sea, but Hina preserved the tides. They cursed the rivers, but Hina saved the springs-the moving waters inland, like the tides in the ocean.
The Hawaiians say that Hina and her maidens pounded out the softest, finest kapa cloth on the long, thick kapa board at the foot of Kauiki. Incessantly the restless sea dashed its spray over the picturesque groups of splintered lava rocks which form the Kauiki headland. Here above the reach of the surf still lies the long, black stone into which the legends say Hina's kapa board was changed. Here Hina took the leaves of the hala tree and, after the manner of the Hawaiian women of the ages past, braided mats for the household to sleep upon, and from the nuts of the kukui trees fashioned the torches which were burned around the homes of those of high chief rank.
At last she became weary of her work among mortals. Her family had become more and more troublesome. It was said that her sons were unruly and her husband lazy and shiftless. She looked into the heavens and determined to flee up the pathway of her rainbow through the clouds.
The Sun was very bright and Hina said, "I will go to the Sun." So she left her home very early in the morning and climbed up, higher, higher, until the heat of the rays of the sun beat strongly upon her and weakened her so that she could scarcely crawl along her beautiful path. Up a little higher and the clouds no longer gave her even the least shadow. The heat from the sun was so great that she began to feel the fire shriveling and torturing her. Quickly she slipped down into the storms around her rainbow and then back to earth. As the day passed her strength came back, and when the full moon rose through the shadows of the night she said, "I will climb to the moon and there find rest."
But when Hina began to go upward her husband saw her and called to her: "Do not go into the heavens." She answered him: `My mind is fixed; I will go to my new husband, the moon." And she climbed up higher and higher. Her husband ran toward her. She was almost out of reach, but he leaped and caught her foot. This did not deter Hina from her purpose. She shook off her husband, but as he fell he broke her leg so that the lower part came off in his hands. Hina went up through the stars, crying out the strongest incantations she could use. The powers of the night aided her. The mysterious hands of darkness lifted her, until she stood at the door of the moon. She had packed her calabash with her most priceless possessions and had carried it with her even when injured by her cruel husband. With her calabash she limped into the moon and found her abiding home. When the moon is full, the Hawaiians of the long ago, aye and even today, look into the quiet, silvery light and see the goddess in her celestial home, her calabash by her side.
The natives call her now Lono-moku, "the crippled Lono." From this watch tower in the heavens she pointed out to Kahai, one of her descendents, the way to rise up into the skies. The ancient chant thus describes his ascent:
"The rainbow is the path of Kahai.
Kahai rose. Kahai bestirred himself.
Kahai passed on the floating cloud of Kane.
Perplexed were the eyes of Alihi.
Kahai passed on on the glancing light.
The glancing light on men and canoes.
Above was Hanaiakamalama." (Hina).
Thus under the care of his ancestress Hina, Kahai, the great sea-rover, made his ascent in quest of adventures among the immortals.
In the Tongan Islands the legends say that Hina remains in the moon watching over the "fire-walkers" as their great protecting goddess.
The Hervey Island traditions say that the Moon (Marama) had often seen Hina and admired her, and at last had come down and caught her up to live with himself. The moonlight in its glory is called Inamotea, "the brightness of Ina."
The story as told on Atiu Island (one of the Society group) is that Hina took her human husband with her to the moon, where they dwelt happily for a time, but as he grew old she prepared a rainbow, down which he descended to the earth to die, leaving Hina forevermore as "the woman in the moon." The Savage Islanders worshiped the spirits of their ancestors, saying that many of them went up to the land of Sina, the always bright land in the skies. To the natives of Niue Island, Hina has been the goddess ruling over all tapa making. They say that her home is "Motu a Hina," "the island of Hina," the home of the dead in the skies.
The Samoans said that the Moon received Hina and a child, and also her tapa board and mallet and material for the manufacture of tapa cloth. Therefore, when the moon is shining in full splendor, they shade their eyes and look for the goddess and the tools with which she fashions the tapa clouds in the heavens.
The New Zealand legend says that the woman went after water in the night. As she passed down the path to the spring the bright light of the full moon made the way easy for her quick footsteps, but when she had filled her calabash and started homeward, suddenly the bright light was hidden by a passing cloud and she stumbled against a stone in the path and fell to the ground, spilling the water she was carrying. Then she became very angry and cursed the moon heartily. Then the moon became angry and swiftly swept down upon her from the skies, grasping her and lifting her up. In her terrible fight she caught a small tree with one hand and her calabash with the other. But oh! the strong moon pulled her up with the tree and the calabash and there in the full m,oon they can all be traced when the nights are clear.
Pleasant or Nauru Island, in which a missionary from Central Union Church, Honolulu, is laboring, tells the story of Gigu, a beautiful young woman, who has many of the experiences of Hina. She opened the eyes of the Mother of the Moon as Hina, in some of the Polynesian legends, is represented to have opened the eyes of one of the great goddesses, and in reward is married to Maraman, the Moon, with whom she lives ever after, and in whose embrace she can always be seen when the moon is full. Gigu is Hina under another and more guttural form of speech. Maraman is the same as Malama, one of the Polynesian names for the moon.