Demigod Maui

Informant: My informant, D.L., is 20 and was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. D.L. mother works as an admissions director for his high school. He has one older brother who also attends USC. Both of D.L. parents are full Chinese, but have completely adopted the Hawaiian culture. D.L. spends most of his free time at the beach and considers himself more Hawaiian than Chinese.

Folklore: “There is the Legend of how the demigod, Maui, was the one who created the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is said to have created Hawaii’s islands by tricking his brothers. He convinces them to take him out fishing, but instead catches his hook upon the ocean floor. He tells his brothers that he has caught a big fish, and tells them to paddle as hard as they can. His brothers paddle with all their might, and being intent with their effort, did not notice the island rising behind them. Maui repeats this trick several times, creating the Hawaiian Islands.” D.L. heard this legend growing up in school from his parents when he asked how the islands were created. He was also told after the islands really came to be with volcanoes, but he was more interested in the story version. D.L. likes how this story is a part of his culture and likes telling people about these myths.

Analysis: I really enjoyed this story and think it’s a fun and creative way to tell children how something so incredible and hard to believe could have happened. This story reminds me of the legend of Paul Bunyan and how he created the Grand Canyon when he dragged his axe behind him when he was tired after a long day’s work. It is interesting to see how similar stories originate in completely different cultures.