Saturday, December 3, 2011


Taken from my manuscript for... Mana Wahine...

Toitu Te Mana Wahine
Mahuika was the grandmother of the mischievous hero Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga. She lived in a cave near his village. Mahuika was actually the keeper of the ancient fires. In fact her hair, her face, her arms, fingers, body, legs and feet, her whole appearance was made up of fire. Yet Maui’s family did not know how to make fire. When they needed fire they simply sent someone to see the old lady. When Maui got old enough he too was sent on such errands. One day Maui decided to go see his grandmother, to ask for fire. Mahuika plucked out one of her fingernails and gave it to the boy. Maui quickly ran off but when he got to the stream he doused the flame in the water. 
Maui returned to his grandmother and told her he tripped and dropped the flame. Maui asked for more fire and again Mahuika plucked another fingernail out and handed it to the waiting boy. Maui ran off again and again doused the flame in the stream. Again he returned to ask for more fire. Again Mahuika plucked out another fingernail and yet again Maui put it out. This continued until Mahuika had but one fingernail left. When Maui had the cheek to ask for it Mahuika flew into a rage. She threw flames at Maui who ran as fast as he could. He could not escape the flames so he dove into the water. The heat chased Maui across the river and soon the water began to boil. Maui leapt out of the water and flew into the air as a pigeon. 
The smoke and ash still choked his lungs as he flew into the clouds. Maui recited a powerful karakia and the clouds sent torrential rain. Soon the rain overcame the fires of Mahuika. Maui and his family were saved. When Mahuika realized her flames were conquered, she hid remaining power in various plants. Mahuika then took refuge in her cave where she remains for the rest of her days. Today some plants, like the kaikomako, have inherited those special powers and are amongst the more favored plants when starting a fire in the native bush. The power of Mahuika lives on. 

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