Monday, December 29, 2014


A messenger sent by Maui,
Sent to bring Kane and his set,
Kane and Kanaloa, Kauokahi,
And Maliu.
Throwing out sacred influences, uttering prayers,
Consulting oracles, Hapuʻu the god of the king.
The great fish-hook of Maui,
The whole earth was the fish-line bound by the knot
(A Song for Kualiʻi – Kualiʻi was a celebrated chief of Oahu, who reigned in about 1700 AD. (Journal of the Polynesian Society))

The demi-god Māui is the subject of extraordinary stories throughout Polynesia. In many of the accounts he is a mischievous trickster, stealing the secret of fire and helping his mother to dry kapa by lassoing the sun to slow its progression across the sky.  (Bishop Museum)

A Manaiakalani story suggests that Maui pulled up the islands by tricking his brothers into letting him come out to fish with them.

The brothers never took him out because whenever they did he would catch a scrawny little fish.  He said he sought to prove that he is as skilled as they were.

He prepares the sacred hook, baiting it with the wing of the pet bird of the goddess Hina. Māui tells his brothers that once he starts to haul in the catch, not to look back until he is finished.

Māui casts the hook into the water and catches the enormous ulua fish Pimoe.

The brothers strain against the fish and soon parts of Pimoe are above the surface of the water, immediately turning to stone. The brothers cannot resist any longer and turn around to see their catch.

But when they do, the line breaks and rather than one enormous island, Māui, the earth-fisher, is only able to raise up the eight separate Islands of Hawaiʻi.

Another story related to Manaiakalani tells of Māui’s attempt to rearrange the Islands of the group and assemble them into one solid mass.”

“Having chosen his station at Kaʻena Point, the western extremity of Oʻahu, from which the island of Kauai is clearly visible on a bright day, he cast his wonderful hook, Mana-ia-ka-Iani, far out into the ocean that it might engage itself in the foundations of Kauai.”

“When he felt that it had taken a good hold, he gave a mighty tug at the line. A huge boulder, the Pōhaku O Kauai, fell at his feet.”

“The mystic hook, having freed itself from the entanglement, dropped into Pālolo Valley and hollowed out the crater, that is its grave.”  (Manaiakalani, therefore, formed Kaʻau Crater.) (Emerson)

Finally, in frustration, Māui throws his hook into the sky where it becomes a constellation, still easy to see in the spring and summer months, known by Western astronomers as the tail of Scorpio.  (Bishop Museum)

In the Hawaiian sky of Kau (summer season, May to October), Manaiakalani (The Chief's Fishline) is visible for most of the night, just as Ke Ka o Makali‘i (The Canoe- Bailer of Makali'i) is visible for most of the night in the sky of Hoʻoilo (winter season, November to April.)

Like other stars and groups of stars, Manaiakalani is used in celestial navigation as directional clues when they rise and set. On cloudy nights, when only parts of the sky are visible, navigators may recognize isolated stars or star groups and imagine the rest of the celestial sphere around them.  The image shows a depiction of Maui and Manaiakalani.

© 2014 Hoʻokuleana LLC

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