Maui: Hawaiin Demi-God

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Hawaii
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/22/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Abstract: A view of the demigod Maui and how he’s influenced popular culture in Hawaii and even inspired a movie where he is featured. The story of Maui varies depending on who tells the story but he is responsible for creating the islands of Hawaii and bring peace to the Polynesians. His defining characteristic is his fishing hook ironically, he’s a bad fisher and is ridiculed by his brothers. In an attempt to prove them wrong, Maui uses his famous fishing hook to reel in a good catch but can’t pull up the fishing line from the water. He uses all of his strength but manages to pull up the islands of Hawaii with his strength. 

Background: DM is a student at the University of Southern California who is a native Hawaiin and grown up with many Hawaiin tales to explain how her place of living came to be. She finds great interest in the history of her island She grew up her entire life in Hawaii and with that, has heard a lot of folklore. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember when she first heard these stories After reading about famous Hawaiin Folklore, I saught to ask her about what she knows about her Island and its origins. 

P: So tell me more about the origins of Hawaii. How did they come to be like what stories have you heard?

DM: Ok so there is the origin story of Maui which one of the most popular ones especially after the release of the Disney movie. 

P: O that’s right so is he very similar to the Disney version of Maui?

DM: In some ways, he has his fish hook to use but the significance of it is different than that in the movie. Instead of being this crazy deity that does all these great things for the Polynesians, I know him from one story and that’s how he was a horrible fisher which I think is funny because he carries around a fish hook. He knew he was a bad fisher and had three brothers which always teased him about his inability to fish well so one day he went on a canoe with them and tried to fish and prove them wrong. He sent out his line and waited then once he tried to pull up the hook it acted like it was stuck on something. So he used all his strength to pull it up and his brothers start to paddle away and they kept pulling for a while until they turned around and saw they reeling in the Islands of Hawaii. 

Interpretation:

This Deity is very important to the people of Hawaii because it explains how their islands rose from the waters thanks to Maui. One thing that was mentioned is how Disney took the legend and applied a few similar characteristics from Maui such as his hook and his powerful strength to perform tasks such as raising Hawaii from the ocean. Another topic was brought up that the people who wrote Moana are native Hawaiians which explains why a lot of the Polynesian culture brought up in the movie is very similar to the traditional Polynesian culture. This is one of the few times when Disney stayed more true to the legend being portrayed instead of adapting it to fit their standards. However, the differences are the brothers of Maui which each symbolize an island of Hawaii since there are 4 habitable islands and 4 brothers in total.