Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mahuika's Tales No 17 Maui and the big fish


                                      Volcano erupting in New Zealand 


Mahuika was both pleased and sad. Hekeheke had gone to Black Sands by herself and she dearly wanted to know how she was getting on. The children came as usual for a story but Mahuika found it strange that Hekeheke wasn’t there as well. Hekeheke was the daughter she had never had. She wanted her to tell her about the romance with Maui and whether she could trust him to be a good husband and provider. When they had gathered the boys as usual wanted a story about Maui the ancient hero that they loved to hear about so she told them one of their favorites.

Soon after Maui had acquired the jawbone of his grandmother he fashioned some fish hooks out of the bone. He often went fishing with his brothers but this time he let them fish in their own way but this day they were out of luck. After some hours the brothers had hardly caught enough for one person to eat let alone all of their families. They turned to Maui and called out “Why do you not help as well Maui?”
Maui shrugged but bent down and picked up a line and fastened one of his new bone hooks on. Then he surprised them all by striking himself on the nose causing it to bleed. He staunched the bleeding with some flax fronds and threaded these onto his hook then threw it in the water. He played out his line and sat waiting, giving it a gentle tug now and then. Thinking that a fish was now on the hook he tugged hard and felt the resistance. So he gradually pulled in the line which took enormous effort and violently rocked their canoe. Maui wouldn’t give up but fought and played with his catch for hours until they could all see that he had snared a giant fish called Hahau-whenu. The fish was so big that it was like another land, there were fires burning and strange creatures walking on its back.  As Maui's brothers started to bring it alongside it began to struggle. All the rest of the day the brothers tried to land the fish which thrashed back and forth altering its shape and became folded and wrinkly. It was so large that a new land was created where it was caught. It became a huge new island to the north of their own land. The land that was created from this fish is now known as Te Ika-a-Maui, or the fish of Maui, and it is covered in mountains and valleys.  The belly of the giant fish as it transformed into land grumbled and rumbled and formed volcanoes. These mountains are the Taupo and Tongariro mountains which still grumble today telling us that it is not happy it is not still living in the ocean. 

Mahuika then said "We are living on that land today. We must respect it for it will still tell us by grumbling that Maui should not have caught it." She looked at the open mouths of the children as they realized that they were living on the back of the sea monster and smiled. So she added, “That was a very long time ago but we should always respect our country and look after it.”
After the children had all gone home Mahuika was still sad so she went for a walk along the beach to be alone with the ocean and the sky and the sea birds flying overhead. She talked to the wind blown tussock grass, she whispered to the scuttling crabs and breathed in the freshness of the breeze which planted even more salty tears on her face. Having walked far enough she turn and slowly returned to the village. By this time the wind had changed and blew straight in her face as the clouds gathered. There in the distance she could see a figure running towards her; it was Hekeheke. When she arrived Hekeheke turned around to see if there was anyone else on the beach first then came right up the Mahuika and hugged her. “I have so much to tell you,” she said.
Mahuika guessed at once that Hekeheke had decided to marry Maui and said. “Should you not tell your mother first?”
“Yes, yes. But I want to tell you the good bits that I cannot tell her,” she laughed.
Mahuika then realized that Hekeheke did not regard her as a mother figure at all but as her closest friend so she cried with happiness. So they returned to the village holding hands just like teenage girls as they told each other their secrets.

1 comment:

  1. Robin, glad to see you at my blog! Ah, the saga continues. I loved the story of Maui, loved how it awed the children. Most of all, I love the lessons of environmentalism and respect for the earth woven into an intricate, amazing story.

    Peace on earth, my friend, Amy

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