The god Maui, a child of supernatural parents, was born human, but was endowed with supernatural gifts of his own. Maui had the power to be invisible, or transform into any animal. He was incredibly strong and brave and he would often help others in need. Unfortunately, when he wasn’t doing anything good, he was quite often up to no good, and found it fun to play tricks on others. Of course, kolohe (naughty) behavior was frowned upon and would often get him into lots of trouble with his family.
It has been told, that Maui grew up in a dark world, where the sky sat low on the ground, so low people had to crawl as to not bump into the sky. Being dark all the time, meant less time to play tricks and have fun. One day, Maui set out to explore the caves around his home and wandered through a forest where the trees had pushed the sky up high enough he could almost stand without bumping his head on the clouds. He continued further and came upon a small thatched hale (house) where an old woman stood outside. Maui, called to her, “Hello.” She didn’t respond, but Maui continued his approach until he stood in front of her.
The old woman had a gourd filled with water and a coconut shell overflowing with berries. Maui asked her for some water and she gave it to him. She also offered him some fruit and he greedily ate it all. When Maui looked up to thank the woman, she vanished. A moment later she returned and handed him another coconut shell filled with fruit. While Maui enjoyed his feast, the night fell and it was so very dark, to dark for Maui to find his way back home. The old woman said he could stay the night.
In the morning, Maui said to the woman, you have been very kind to me, who are you? The old woman replied, “I am Nani, your friend.” Maui asked her if there was anything he could do to repay her kindness. Nani replied, “I am an old woman, and I don’t have much more time on this earth. You have in you the power and strength to bring light.” She smiled and returned to her hale.
Maui began his journey home, all the while thinking about how he could bring light. As he walked through the forest and neared the rocky hills back toward his family cave, he had to scrunch down lower and lower. The sky was on Maui’s shoulders and he thought, what if I could push the sky up higher, so everyone could have more light. Maui planted his feet and started to lift the sky. To his surprise it was moving higher. Maui walked up a hill and continued lifting the sky even higher. Maui called upon his powers to grow taller than the highest mountain, and the strength of the strongest gods. He took a long deep breath and thrust the sky upwards where it still remains to this day.
Maui returned home to find his family and friends rejoicing in the newly found sunlight. From there on, Maui was celebrated as a true god.