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The Gods were born of the Sky and the Earth--of Rangi the Sky and Papa-tu-a-nuku the Earth. And in those days the Sky pressed down upon the Earth, and there was no difference between the light and the darkness. Nothing could grow up then, nothing could ripen, nothing could bear fruit. And the Gods, the seventy children born of Rangi and Papa, had no space for themselves.
They were huddled in clefts and, hollows of the Earth, and the Sky overlaid them. Some were upon their backs, some upon their sides; others went crawling and stooping. They had heard of light, but they had only known darkness: they wondered what light might be. They consulted as to how light might be brought to where they stayed huddled, and how space might be given them. Tu-matauenga, the father of fierce human beings, spoke. "Let us slay our father and our mother," he said, "so that they will not press upon us."
But none of the other Gods would side with Tu-matauenga, father of fierce human beings. Then said Tane-mahuta, father of forests and all life that inhabits them and all things that are made from timbers, "Nay, let us force them apart. Let Rangi be made a stranger to us, but let Papa remain near us and be a nursing mother to us; let one be above us and the other beneath our feet." All thought well of what Tane-mahuta said, all except Ta-whiri-matea, father of winds and storms. He howled when his brothers spoke of raising the Sky above their heads and placing the Earth beneath their feet.
But the children of Rangi and Papa had agreed to sunder their parents. Then Rongo-ma-tane, the father of cultivated food-plants, tried to separate them. He tried and he failed. Tangaroa, the father of fishes and all that is in the sea, raised himself for the effort. But he was not able to do the great deed. Haumia-tikitiki, father of food-plants
that grow up without cultivation, now tried to make the separation, but his effort was without avail. Then the Gods called upon the father of fierce human beings to separate the Sky and the Earth. But for all his fierce endeavours, Tu-matauenga could not put them apart.
The Gods would have given up their plan, and would have stayed huddled between the Sky and the Earth where there was no space for them to move and no difference between the light and the darkness, if Tane-mahuta did not stand in the place where the others had made their effort. He pushed with his arms and his hands; but what he did was without avail. Then he put his shoulders upon Papa's middle; he put his feet against Rangi, the Sky. His feet raised up Rangi, his shoulders pushed Papa downwards; to shrieks and mighty groans the separation became more and more wide. "Wherefore slay your parents?" the Sky groaned. "Why do you, our children, commit this dreadful deed?" the Earth cried out. The Gods were made dumb and moveless as Earth and Sky moved and shrieked and groaned. Tane-mahuta did not abate his effort. Far down beneath him he pressed the Earth, far, far above him be thrust the Sky.
As the Sky and the Earth were rent farther and farther apart, light came to where the Gods were. They stood upright; they moved freely and to distances. The Sky and the Earth stayed where they were, far from each other. Now plants and trees grew up; there was maturity, there was ripening of fruit. The human race came into existence, and men moved here and there upon the Earth.
And for all time Sky and Earth were set apart. But still, from the tops of wooded mountains, the sighs of Papa-tu-a-nuku rise up to Rangi. Then Rangi drops tears upon her bosom--tears that men know as drops of dew.
When Ma-ui, the last of her five sons, was born, his mother thought she would have no food for him. So she took him down to the shore of the sea; she cut off her hair and tied it around him, and she
gave him to the waves. But Ma-ui was not drowned in the sea: first of all the jelly-fish came; it folded him in its softness and kept him warm while he floated on. And then the God of the Sea found the child and took charge of him: he brought him to his house and warmed and cherished him, and little Ma-ui grew up in the land where lived the God of the Sea.
But while he was still a boy he went back to his mother's country. He saw his mother and his four brothers, and he followed them into a house; it was a house that all the people of the country were going into. He sat there with his brothers. And when his mother called her children to take them home, she found this strange child with them. She did not know him, and she would not take him with the rest of the children. But Ma-ui followed them. And when his four brothers came out of their own house they found him outside, and they played with him. At first they played hide-and-seek, but then they made themselves spears from canes, and they began throwing the spears at the house.
The slight spears did not go through the thatch of grass that was at the outside of the house. And then Ma-ui made a charm over the cane that was his spear--a charm that toughened it and made it heavy. He flung it again, and a great hole was made in the grass-thatch of the house. His mother came out to chastise the boy and drive him away. But when she stood at the door and saw him standing there, looking so angry, and when she saw how he was able to break down the house with the throws of his spear, she knew in him the great power that his father had, and she called to him to come into the house.
He would not come in until she had laid her hands upon him. When she did this his brothers were jealous that their mother made so much of this strange boy; they did not want to have him with them. It was then that the elder brother spoke and said, "Never mind; let him be with us and be our dear brother." And they all asked him to come within the house.
The door-posts, Short Post and Tall Post, would not let him come in (some say that these were his uncles and that they had been the masters of the household while the boys in the house were ungrown). Ma-ui lifted up his spear; he threw it at Tall Post and overthrew him. He threw his spear again and over.
threw Short Post. And after that he went into his mother's house and was with his brothers.
In those days, say the people who know the stories of the old times, the birds were not seen by the men and women of the islands. They flew around the houses, and the flutter of their wings was heard, and the stirring of the branches and the leaves as they were lighted upon by the birds. Then there would be music. But the people who had never seen the birds thought that this was music made by the Gods who wanted to remain unseen by the people. Ma-ui could see the birds; he rejoiced in their brilliant colours, and when he called to them they would come and rest upon the branches around the place where he was; there they would sing their happiest songs to him.
There was a visitor who came. from another land to the country that Ma-ui lived in. He boasted of all the wonderful things that were in his country, and it seemed to the people of Ma-ui's land that they had nothing that was fine or that could be spoken about with pride. Then Ma-ui called to the birds. They came and they made music on every side. The visitor who had boasted so much was made to wonder, and he said that there was nothing in his country that was as marvellous as the music made by Ma-ui's friends, the birds.
Then, that they might be honoured by all, Ma-ui said a charm by which the birds came to be seen by men-the red birds, the i-i-wi and the aha-hani, and the yellow birds, the o-o and the mamo, and all the other bright birds. The delight of seeing them was equal to the delight of hearing the music that they made. Ever afterwards the birds were seen and heard, and the people all rejoiced in them. This Ma-ui did when he was still a boy, growing up with his brothers and sisters in his mother's house.
His mother must have known about fire and the use of fire, else why should she have been called Hina-of-the-Fire, and how did it come that her birds, the alae, knew where fire was hidden and how to make it blaze up? Hina must have known about fire. But her son had to search and search for fire. The people who lived in houses on the islands did not know of it: they had to eat raw roots and raw fish, and they had to suffer the cold. It was for them that Ma-ui wanted to get fire; it was for them that he went down to
the lower world, and that he went searching through the upper world for it.
In Kahiki-mo-e 1 they have a tale about Ma-ui that the Hawaiians do not know. There they tell how he went down to the lower world and sought out his great-great-grand mother, Ma-huia. She was glad to see Ma-ui of whom she had heard in the lower world; and when he asked her to give him fire to take to the upper world, she plucked a nail off her finger and gave it to him.
In this nail fire burned. Ma-ui went to the upper world with it. But in crossing a stream of water he let the nail drop in. And so he lost the fire that his great-great-grand mother had given him.
He went back to her again. And again Ma-hui'a plucked off a finger-nail and gave it to him. But when he went to the upper world and went to cross the stream, he let this burning nail also drop into the water. Again he went back, and his great-great-grandmother plucked off a third nail for him. And this went on, Ma-ui letting the nails fall into the water, and Ma-huia giving him the nails off her fingers, until at last all the nails of all her fingers were given to him.
But still he went on letting the burning nails fall into the water that he had to cross, and at last the nails of his great-great-grandmother's toes were given to him--all but the nail on the last of her toes. Then, when he came back once more, Ma-huia became blazing angry; she plucked the nail off, but instead of giving it to him she flung it upon the ground.
Fire poured out of the nail and took hold on everything. Ma-ui ran to the upper world, and Ma-huia in her anger ran after him. He dashed into the water. But now the forests were blazing, and the earth was burning, and the waters were boiling. Ma-ui ran on, and Ma-huia ran after him. And as he ran he chanted a magic incantation so that the rain might come, so that the burning might be put out:
[paragraph continues] The rain came on--the long rain, the small rain, the rain that patters on the leaves; storms came, and rain in torrents. The fire that raged in the forests and burned on the ground was drowned out. And Ma-huia, who had followed him, was nearly drowned by the torrents of rain. She saw her fire, all the fire that was in the lower and upper worlds, being quenched by the rain.
She gathered up what fragments of fire she could, and she bid them in the barks of different trees, so that the rain could not get at them and quench them. Ma-ui's mother must have known where his great-great-grandmother hid the fire. If she did not, her sacred birds, the alae, knew it. They were able to take the barks off the trees, and, by rubbing them together, to bring out fire.
In Hawaii they tell how Ma-ui and his brothers used to go out fishing every day, and how, as soon as they got far out to sea, they would see smoke rising on the mountain-side. "Behold," they would say, "there is fire. Whose can it be?" "Let us hasten to the shore and cook our fish at that fire," another would say.
So, with the fish that they had caught, Ma-ui and his brothers would hasten to the shore. The swiftest of them would run up the mountain-side; but when he would get to where the smoke had been, all he would see would be the alae, the mud-hen, scratching clay over burnt-out sticks. The alae would leave the place where they had been seen, and Ma-ui would follow them from place to place, hoping to catch them when their fire was lighted.
He would send his brothers off fishing, and he himself would watch for the smoke from the fire that the alae would kindle. But they would kindle no fire on the days that he did not go out in the canoe with his brothers. "We cannot have our cooked bananas to-day," the old bird would say to the young birds, "for the swift son of Hina is somewhere near, and he would come upon us before we put out our fire. Remember that the guardian of the fire told us never to show a man where it is hidden, or how it is taken out of its hiding-place."
Then Ma-ui understood that the bird watched for his going, and that the alae made no fire until they saw him out at sea in his canoe. He knew that they counted the men who went out, and that if he was not in the number they did no cooking that day. Every time he went in the canoe he saw smoke rising on the mountain-side.
Then Ma-ui thought of a trick to play on them-on the stingy alae that would not give fire, but left men to eat raw roots and raw fish. He rolled up a mat, and he put it in the canoe, making it like a man. Then he bid near the shore. The brothers went fishing, and the birds counted the figures in the canoe. "The swift son of Hina has gone fishing; we can have cooked bananas to-day." "Make the fire, make the fire, until we cook our bananas," said the young alae.
So they gathered the wood together, and they rubbed the barks, and they made the fire. The smoke rose up from it, and swift Ma-ui ran up the mountain-side. He came upon the flock of birds just as the old one was dashing water on the embers. He caught her by the neck and held her.
"I will kill you," he said, "for hiding fire from men."
"If you kill me," said the old alae, "there will be no one to show you how to get fire."
"Show me how to get fire," said Ma-ui, "and I will let you go."
The cunning alae tried to deceive Ma-ui. She thought she would get him off his guard, that he would let go of her, and that she could fly away. "Go to the reeds and rub them together, and you will get fire," she said.
Ma-ui went to the reeds and rubbed them together. But still he held the bird by the neck. Nothing came out of the reeds but moisture. He squeezed her neck. "If you kill me there will be no one to tell you where to get fire," said the cunning bird, still hoping to get the son of Hina off his guard. "Go to the taro leaves and rub them together, and you will get fire."
Ma-ui held to the bird's neck. He went to the taro leaves and rubbed them together, but no fire came. He squeezed her neck harder. The bird was nearly dead now; but still she tried to deceive the man. "Go to the banana stumps and rub them together, and you will get fire," she said.
He went to the banana stumps and rubbed them together; but still no fire came. Then he gave the bird a squeeze that brought her near death. She showed him then the trees to go to--the hau-tree and the sandalwood-tree. He took the barks of the trees and rubbed them together, and they gave fire. And the sweet-smelling sandalwood he called "ili-aha"--that is, "fire-bark"--because fire came most easily
from the bark of that tree. With sticks from these trees Ma-ui went to men. He showed them how to get fire by rubbing them together. And never afterwards had men to eat fish raw and roots raw. They could always have fire now.
The first stick he lighted he rubbed on the head of the bird that showed him at last where the fire was hidden. And that is the reason why the alae, the mud-hen, has a red streak on her head to this day.
257:1 New Zealand.