adapted from Maui and the Secret of Fire by Suelyn Ching Tune, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1991.
A long time ago, the Hawaiians did not know the secret of fire. When they wanted to cook their food, they had to travel to where there was lava so they could use the hot rocks.
One day, Maui and his brothers were coming home from fishing, when they saw smoke from a fire on the shore.
"Look," said one brother, "someone has made a fire! If he will share the secret with us then we wouldn't have to walk that long way to the lava to cook our food."
Maui was brave and told his brothers to wait while he went to find out about the fire.
When Maui got to where the fire was, he found that the fire was out. Some banana peels from some cooked bananas were there and so were some dry hau sticks, a pointed stick of hardwood, and some coconut husks.
Maui went back and told his brothers what he'd found. "I saw the mud hens fly away. They're the ones that made the fire!" he said.
The next day, Maui and his brothers saw the fire again, but when Maui got there, the fire was out again. All he found were some sweet potato skins, the hau sticks, the pointed stick, and the coconut husks.
Maui and his brothers were very angry because the mud hens knew how to make fire but wouldn't share their secret.
They made a plan the next day, and Maui hid while his brothers went fishing. He heard the mud hens talking.
"Let's make a fire and cook some more bananas, " one mud hen said.
"Wait!," said another, "Maui isn't in the canoe with his brothers. Let's fly away!"
The next day, Maui made a puppet of himself out of tapa cloth and put it in the canoe with his brothers. When they left to go fishing, the mud hens thought Maui was with them.
As Maui watched, one of the mud hens began to rub two sticks together. Maui leaped out of his hiding place and grabbed the mud hen.
"Tell me the secret of fire, or I won't let you go!" Maui said.
"No, I won't tell," said the mud hen, "and if you hurt me you will never find out the secret!"
Maui held onto the mud hen until the mud hen promised to tell him how to make fire.
"I won't let you go until I actually make a fire," he said.
The mud hen told him to rub the sharp stick against a kalo leaf stalk. All that Maui got was a bunch of juice from the stalk. He squeezed the mud hen tighter.
"Stop!" said the mud hen. "I will tell you."
Then the mud hen told Maui to rub the pointed stick against a sugar cane stalk, and again all Maui got was juice. Maui was really mad and held onto the mud hen even tighter.
"Stop! I will tell you," said the mud hen.
At last, the mud hen told Maui that he had to use a dry hau stick. When Maui rubbed the pointed stick against the hau stick, he made a groove with dust at the end.
"You must rub harder and faster," said the mud hen, "then you will make fire."
Maui rubber harder and faster. Suddenly, he saw smoke and saw that the hau dust glowed with sparks.
"Now," said the mud hen, "put a handful of coconut husk fibers in pile on the ground and pour the sparks on top. Blow carefully, and you'll have a fire!"
Maui did as the mud hen told him to, and the fibers burst into flames. Maui had learned the secret of fire!
Before Maui let the mud hen go, he grabbed a hot stick and touched the mud hen's forhead with it to remind the mud hen of how selfish she'd been for so long.
Since then, the Hawaiians have used fire to cook their food . . .
. . . and that's why the Hawaiian mud hen has a red mark on its forhead.
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