This is a picture
of the beach where Maui learned the secret of fire.
Picture taken by Kauila Team
‘alae ula, the mud hen, was common on most Hawaiian
Islands except two, Lana‘i and Kaho‘olawe.
By the 1940s the ‘alae birds were considered dangerous.
Then on Molokai they exterminated the population all
together but then reintroduced but it wasnῑt a success and even
today there is no population of alae on Molokai.
‘Alae could also be found on the other islands by the
banks of the rivers. ‘Alae were also found in Wai‘ane
it was there that the ‘alae taught Maui the
secret of fire.
Hina's mother gave her burning coals and everyday Hina
would tend to the coals. One day Hina forgot to feed the flames and
the fire died out.
That day as Maui and his brothers went fishing as Maui
stared out towards Haleakalā he saw a pillar of smoke
and then he exclaimed to his brothers, “There,” he said
pointing to the smoke coming from the beach, “someone knows
how to make fire let’s go and find out who.”
His brothers feared that it might be the Pele the fire goddess
so they sent Maui. When he reached the spot where the flame
had been he only found ashes and banana leaves, oloema sticks,
dry hau and coconut husks, but no fire. Maui knew
it was the ‘alae who had made the fire so the next
day Maui stayed back and waited for the ‘alae,
but the ‘alae saw through his tricks and got away.
Maui had another plan he made a doll out of kapa and
told his brothers to take with them on the fishing trip. When the
‘alae arrived Maui hid in the bushes, and
watched as the ‘alae started to make fire. Then one
of the ‘alae heard a rustle in the bushes and as the
mud hens made their get away Maui jumped out and grabbed
one by the neck and demanded it tell him how to make fire. The ‘alae
bird refused and Maui tightened his grip on the birds
“Stop!’ pleaded the mud hen, “I'll tell you!”
But of course the bird lied and lied until Maui squeezed
the bird's so tightly that it finally told the truth.
When flames finally appeared the ‘alae told Maui, “
Now let me go!”
Then Maui took a burning stick and put it to the bird's forehead
and it left a red mark then Maui said, “now all the
‘alae will know it was you who let out their secret.”
And that is how Maui learned the secret of fire.
Center for Biological Diversity. Anderson, Greta. December
19, 2006. December 15, 2006 <http://www.esasuccess.org>.
Maui and The Secret of Fire. December 13, 2006<http://library.thinkquest.org/3502/fire.htm>
Williams, Julie Stewart. From the Mountains to the Sea. Honolulu:
Kamehameha Schools Press, 1997.
Moniz Jonathan. Personal interview. 17 November 2006.