As the story goes, there was a time when the Sun travelled too quickly across the sky, and this meant that everyone on the planet including the people of Maui’s village had to put up with the inconvenience of fewer hours of daylight to go about the business of life – fishing, hunting, farming, cooking and just about everything else!
This was not a situation that sat well with Maui, and we know that Maui had a propensity to deal with situations that he wasn’t happy about. Hawaiian legend also tells us that Maui’s mother, the Goddess Hina complained to him about how the rapid movement of the Sun across the sky meant insufficient time for her tapa cloth to dry.
Things finally came to a head one evening as Maui and his brothers were preparing their dinner. The brothers had just finished heating the stones to cook their hangi when the Sun went down, and Maui and his brothers had to eat their meal in the dark. That left Maui very grumpy and so he tries to enlist the help of his brothers in his grand scheme to trap the Sun, but they scoffed at the idea. Undeterred, that night Maui fashions out a sturdy rope and a huge net from flax fibres, a net huge enough to trap and hold the Sun. Then in the dark of night with the Sun asleep, Maui lead a band of villagers towards the cave where the Sun slept, to lie in wait for the rising of the Sun the next morning.
Now the fierce heat of the Sun could have burned them all to a crisp, but the resourceful Maui had a solution to this, and he had everyone in the party cover themselves in a protective layer of mud and clay.
Morning came and as the Sun arose from its slumber, so did the glimmer of first light appear. Before long, it got hot, very hot and the light now was blinding, leaving the men in Maui’s party trembling in fear at the prospect of being roasted alive!
Maui was not having this and ordered the men instead to pull very hard at the ropes and the net tightened like a noose around the Sun. The Sun raged and struggled to break free from the net, but the men were resolute in their effort and when Maui jumped out of his hiding place to reveal himself to the Sun, the Sun roared “What are you doing? Are you trying to kill me?”
Maui assured the Sun that it wasn’t his intent to kill him and went on to explain how it was such a great inconvenience for people to live with the consequence of shorter daylight hours as the Sun raced across the sky. The Sun replied to Maui saying that it was so tired from the effort at straining at the net that it couldn’t possibly race across the sky even if it wanted to do so. Maui elicits a promise from the Sun to travel slowly across the sky from that point on and the Sun is set free.
From that point on, there was plenty of daylight hours for all and if you enjoy the pleasure that long hours of warm sunshine bring, you now know who to thank for it.