How Maui tamed the sun
by Tracey Hammett
There once was a time, a long ago time, when the sun was always in a rush to cross the sky and the days were much shorter. But all that has changed now...because of one brave and clever boy. And his name was Maui.
Maui lived with his family in a small village. The people of the village spent their days hunting, fishing and working the fields...but each day, the sun always set before their work was finished and at night the talk around the camp fire was the same.
'I wish the sun would slow down,' his brother would say. 'It races across the sky and it always sets too soon!'
'It doesn’t matter how early we get up. There’s never enough daylight to catch our fish or collect all the water we need,' his sister would add.
Maui wondered how to make the sun stay in the sky longer. Then, one day, while he was working in the fields his gaze fell upon some flax - the crop the villagers used to weave baskets and make clothes - and he had an idea.
The next evening when they were gathered around the campfire, Maui said: 'I have thought of a way to make each day last longer. I think I can tame the sun.'
His family looked at him in amazement. 'Don’t be so silly,' his father said. 'No one can tame the sun! It’s far too powerful!'
'You can’t even get close to it,' said his brother, 'you’d be burnt like a twig on the campfire!'
'At least listen to my idea,' said Maui, 'there’s nothing to lose. First we must all go into the fields and gather up flax...loads of it...enough to make a small mountain. Then I’ll show you how to make a net that will be strong enough to capture the sun. Then we’ll make him move more slowly across the sky!'
The next day everyone went into the fields and collected flax. They worked hard and piled it up high, until they’d made a huge flax mountain. Then Maui showed them how to plait the flax into strong ropes. 'Watch carefully!' he told them. He started tying the ropes together to make a net that was big enough to catch and hold the sun. The whole village helped him.
After many hours of plaiting and tying they had finally made a net big enough to please Maui. He gathered it up and set off with a small group of villagers.
They travelled east for several days until they finally came to the cave where the sun slept.
'This is where the sun rises in the morning,' he announced, 'we must work quickly.' They unfolded the net and covered the entrance to the cave with it. Then they camouflaged the ropes with leaves and branches. Finally, they rubbed themselves with mud and clay to protect themselves from the sun’s fierce heat. Now they hid and waited for the sun.
It wasn't long before they saw the first glimmer of light coming from the cave. Then they felt the scorching heat. The men started to shake with fear as the light grew more and more blinding and the heat more and more stifling.
'This is madness,' cried one of the men. 'We’re all going to be roasted!'
But suddenly they heard a sharp shout from Maui: 'Pull! Pull the ropes as hard as you can!'
So they pulled with all their strength and the net fell like a huge noose over the sun.
What is this?' roared the sun, raging and struggling. Although the men were terrified that the Sun would burn them all, they pulled and strained as hard as they could so that the sun could not escape.
Maui knew he had to do more than just hold the sun in the net. He rushed out from his hiding place and ran towards the sun. Even though the heat was scorching his body and his hair, he moved in closer!
The sun roared even louder: 'What are you doing? Are you trying to kill me?'
'No,' answered Maui, 'but you don't understand. You travel across the sky too fast and we can’t finish our work! We need more hours of light in our days for hunting and fishing, for building and repairing our village houses!'
The sun was beginning to feel tired. It had used up a great deal of strength trying to struggle out of the net. 'I don't think I could speed across the sky now, even if I wanted to,' it said.
'If we release you,' said Maui, 'will you promise to slow your journey down?'
'I CAN only go slowly now,' answered the Sun, 'for you have made me much weaker.'
The Sun promised to do what Maui had asked him and the villagers released the ropes. Maui's brothers and the other men watched as the sun, slowly, stiffly, began to lift into the sky. They all smiled at Maui - they were proud of him.
To this day, the sun travels on its long lonely path across the sky at a very slow pace, giving us many more hours of sunlight than it used to do. And now you know why. It is all because of Maui.