adapted from "Legends of Hawaii" by Padraic Colum, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1937.
Once upon a time, there were no Hawaiian Islands, only open sea.
One day, the demigod Maui saw that his brothers were going fishing, and asked to go along.
His brothers told him they didn't want him to go. "We are better fishermen than you," they said. "You are lazy and won't catch any fish."
"You know I have powerful magic," Maui answered. "I can catch a fish so big you'll never be able to finish eating it!"
His brothers still wouldn't let him come, and left without Maui.
Maui was mad at his brothers. He would show them, he thought to himself. He might not be as good a fisherman as them, but he would fish up something from the ocean that would make them sorry they ever called him lazy.
That night, Maui set about making a magic fishhook. He needed a special bone to make his hook, so he went down into the underworld to get it. There, he looked until he found his ancestress. She was dead on one side and a living woman on the other. She gave Maui her jawbone from the side of her that was dead.
Maui took the bone and made a mighty fishhook from it. He named it "Ma-nai-i-ka-lani," which means "made fast to the heavens." He hid his magic fishhook and told no one about it.
The next day, Maui made himself tiny and hid in his brothers' canoe. When they had paddled far out to sea, he made himself his regular size.
"Auwe!" they cried when they saw him. "Now we will never catch fish!"
"Paddle farther brothers," Maui told them. "Out there is where the fish are."
So the brothers paddled and paddled until their arms ached. They paddled until they were in the middle of the ocean.
"We are tired, Maui, and you have not helped us," complained one brother.
"Where are the fish you said were here?" asked the other. "We must go back."
Then, Maui pulled his magic fishhook out. "This is Ma-nai-i-ka-lani. With this hook I will catch the mightiest fish of all!"
He threw his line into to ocean with the magic fishhook on it. Down, down, down it went. Ka-uni-ho-kahi, who holds fast to the land at the bottom of the sea, saw the flashing fishhook and took it in his mouth. Maui's magic fishhook held fast to his jaw.
In the canoe above, Maui felt a great tug on his line. "Now, paddle brothers!" Maui ordered them. "Paddle with all your might, and whatever you do, don't look back!"
The brothers began to paddle. They felt a great weight grow behind their canoe. The farther they paddled, the heavier it became, and the harder it was to paddle. As they paddled, Maui said a magic chant, and the weight came with them.
At last, one brother could stand it no more, and he turned back to look. He screamed in fright and dropped his paddle when he saw what Maui had pulled up. It wasn't a fish, but a great piece of land!
When the brother dropped his paddle, the line snapped, breaking the land into pieces . . .
. . . and that's how the Hawaiian Islands came to be.
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