Hold back the night.
Let darkness rest upon the eyes of Peʻapeʻa
That I may save my wife.”
Demigod Maui is known for capturing the sun; here is another story of Maui.
Sometime after his effort to pull Kauaʻi closer to Oʻahu failed, Maui and his three brothers went fishing. Each brother caught a shark; Maui, with his famous hook Manaiakalani, caught a moi and a large ulua.
Maui-kupua told his brothers to paddle ashore and directed them to the best landing place. After they landed, he grabbed his gear and his two fish and returned home.
He began to eat the fish when he saw Kumulama, his wife, being carried away by the chief Peʻapeʻamakawalu (eight-eyed-bat; Peʻapeʻa.) Maui pursued, but Peʻapeʻa was too swift for him and disappeared into the sky beyond the sea.
Grieving, Maui went to his mother, Hina, who told him: “Go to the land of Keahumoa; there you’ll see a large hut. Your grandfather Kuolokele (Ku-honeycreeper) lives there; he’ll instruct you on how to recover your wife.” (hawaii-edu)
Maui saw a hump-backed man, his grandfather, coming toward Waipahu with a load of potato leaves, one pack of which, it is said, would cover the whole land of Keahumoa.
Maui picked up a stone and threw it at his grandfather, striking him on the back, whereupon Kuolokele’s back was straightened. Kuolokele picked up the stone Maui threw at him, and threw it to Waipahu, where it has remained to this day.
Maui explained what had happened; Kuolokele had Maui gather kī leaves, ʻieʻie vines and bird feathers.
On the first day, from the bird feathers, ki leaves and ʻieʻie vines, Kuolokele made the body and wings of a bird – moku-manu (bird-ship.) On the second day, he finished the bird and tested it. It flew the first flying-craft ever in Hawaiʻi.
On the third day, Maui appeared before Kuolokele. “It is ready,” the old man said. “Inside the bird you will find cords. With them you can flap its wings and make it fly. Also there is a bundle of food.
Kuolokele told Maui “Fly in this bird until you come to Moanaliha, the land of Peʻapeʻa. When you reach it, look for the village. If the village is deserted, then look toward the sea and you’ll see a great number of people gathered there, among whom will be Peʻapeʻa, along with your wife.”
“Fly near them, but not too close, just close enough to attract their notice; then fly far out to sea. On your return the people watching you will shout, ‘The bird! The strange bird!’”
“If you hear Peʻapeʻa say that you are his bird, all will be well. He will have you taken into his sleeping house, and you can save your wife.’
Maui entered the body of the bird and started to fly. He flew for two days and two nights.
Arriving at Moanaliha, he looked over the land and noticed that the houses, but no people; he saw a crowd at the seashore. He flew until he was right over the multitude and saw his wife, Kumulama.
He continued flying over the deep ocean; then Maui turned and flew toward land.
As he neared the shore, the people exclaimed, “Oh, an enormous bird! An enormous bird!” Peʻapeʻa said, “Perhaps it’s my bird; if it is, it’ll land on my sacred box.”
Maui heard this and landed on the sacred box. After this, the chief and the people arose and returned to their village.
Arriving at his house, the chief told his attendants to go and bring the bird into the sleeping house. The order was carried out and food was brought to the bird. Maui reached out from the opening of the mouth and took the food inside.
Night fell. Through the eyes of the bird Maui watched as people came in and stretched out on piles of mats. They pulled kapa covers over them and closed their eyes in sleep.
Knowing Peʻapeʻamakawalu had eight eyes, four in front and four behind, Maui waited for all eight to close before he made a move.
After a while, one of the eyes closed, then another and another. But one remained open. He continued waiting until almost daylight, when he prayed to Hina: “Hold back the night!” Hina held back the night.
Maui kept awake until the last eye closed. Then he emerged from the bird, went to where Peʻapeʻa was sleeping, killed him and cut off his head.
Maui took his wife and the head and entered the bird again. Then he broke a hole in the roof thatching and flew out.
The next day, the people found neither bird, nor woman, only the headless body of Peʻapeʻamakawalu.
Meanwhile, Maui was flying back to Oʻahu.
As soon as Maui alighted, his grandfather asked, “Where is your wife and your bundle?” “Here they are inside,” replied Maui.
“Then let your wife out first,” said Kuolokele, and Kumulama came out; then Maui brought out the head of Peʻapeʻamakawalu.
Then they ate the prepared feast.
They enjoyed some time together, Kuolokele excused Maui and Kumulama, and they returned home to Hina, who welcomed them back with joy. (Lots of information here from Cultural Surveys, hawaii-edu and Thrum.) The image shows Maui capturing the sun. (Herb Kane)
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