Maui, Hawaiian Sup’pa Man - by Del Beazley & Mel Amina

Told is the tale of the mischievous one
Who fished out the islands
And captured the sun
His deeds and task I will unmask
So that you’ll understand
That before there was a Clark Kent
There was a Hawaiian Sup'pa Man
He fished off the island with the magic hook
There would have been more
But somebody look
In blue morning skies the sun he entwined
To slow down his flight so kapa could dry

Chorus:
Mischievous, marvelous, magical Maui,
Hero of this land
The one, the only, the ultimate
Hawaiian Suppa Man
Maui, Maui, Maui,
Hawaiian Suppa Man
Maui, oh Maui, oh Maui
Hawaiian Suppa Man

The secret of fire was lost somewhere in time
So when the ahi died in the hale kuke
No way to re-ignite
So off he goes in search of those
Who hold the information
So fire could be used by all the future generations
He found that ʻalae had the fire connection
But his plan of deception
Fell short from perfection
With no other choice he had to get mean
So he squeezed ʻalae’s throat
Until she screamed the secret


Manaiakalani (made fast to the heavens),
Maui's magical hook, Bishop Museum

Verse 1, - Legend says that Maui's brothers ridiculed him, called him lazy, and a worthless fisherman. Maui was determined to bring home a marvelous catch and fashioned a fishing hook with a line made from the strongest olonā vines. He named the hook Manaiakalani. His mother, Hina, gave him an ʻalae bird to use as bait. He begged his brothers to let him sail with them to the deep ocean where the fish were plentiful; but no fish were caught. He urged them farther and farther out, but they grew tired of paddling and wanted to return to land, because Maui had not cast his line. It was then that Maui let down his hook that became entrapped in the mouth of Kaunihokahi (one old tooth), the one who holds the land at the bottom of the sea. When Maui felt a tug on his line, he fastened the line to the canoe and bade his brothers paddle harder without looking back. They paddled and struggled as the weight became heavier. Finally, one brother looked back and was startled to see land rising from the ocean. He dropped his paddle and this action broke the line held in the mouth of Kaunihokahi. If this brother had not looked back and dropped his paddle, Maui would have fished up the land mass joined together, instead of the separate islands now called Hawaiʻi.

 

Source: The composer, immortalizes Maui, the mischievous demi-god and the great hero of Polynesian/Hawaiian folklore in song. Verse 1, stanza 3. This is how Maui captured the sun. Hina, Maui's mother, dwelt at Makalia with the family, near Kahakuloa in West Maui. Hina would pound kapa, hang it up to dry, then gather the kapa in the evening. Every day the same kapa would be put out to dry and gathered in the evening still damp, because the sun moved too swiftly across the sky and the days were too short to dry the kapa. Maui saw his mother repeat the same routine day after day, and decided to lengthen the days by cutting off the legs of the sun to slow it down. He went to Wailohi in East Maui to observe the movements of the sun, then climbed up Haleakalā and noticed the sun's course took it directly over the mountain. Returning home, he revealed his plan to his mother who sent him to Paeloko, to gather coconut husk fibre. This was woven into 15 strands of strong cord. Then he fashioned a noose from the hair of his sister, Hina of the sea. He was then sent to his grandmother who would give him the rest of the tools and instructions to conquer the sun. The old grandmother gave him a stone for a battleax and one more rope. She told him to station himself by a large wiliwili tree at the point where the sun would rise over the rim. She showed him how to snare the strongest beams (legs) breaking off each beam as the sun rose in the sky. One by one the sunbeams rose over the rim and were snared until only one beam, the strongest, remained. There was a struggle but Maui caught the beam with his grandmother's rope. Maui struck the sun again and again with his stone battleax until the sun begged for life. The sun pleaded with Maui, accusing him of breaking off his strong legs and leaving him only the weak ones. An agreement was made and Maui permitted the sun to pursue his course more slowly at certain times of the year and moving more swiftly at other times. Old timers say the ancient name of Haleakalā is Alehekalā (sun-snarer) or Aheleakalā (rays of the sun).
Verse 2.- ʻAlae, the mudhen had the secret of fire that Maui coveted for the benefit of mankind. Each day ʻalae would count the brothers in the canoe, and if all were going fishing, the mudhen would build a fire. If any brother was missing from the canoe, the mudhen would not start the fire. Eventually, Maui realized the scheme and planned his own deception. He would bundle tapa, place it in the canoe to mimic a person, find a hiding place, capture ʻalae, and retrieve the secret of fire. His plan worked perfectly and soon he had ʻalae by the neck, ready to twist it off. The wily bird told Maui, "if you kill me, you will never have the secret of fire". Maui decided to spare the life of the bird only if ʻalae would give him the secret of fire. ʻAlae told Maui to rub a taro stalk on an ape stalk, which he did, but no fire came. Maui gave the bird's neck a twist and ʻalae said. "rub 2 banana stalks together". Still no fire so Maui gave ʻalae's neck another twist.
Then he was told to rub reeds together, but they bent and broke. Maui twisted the bird's neck again and she cried out, "it is hidden in a green stick". He rubbed the green sticks but no fire, so he wrung the bird's neck again. Then the bird told him there was fire only in dry wood. ʻAlae gave the name of a wood and although Maui rubbed the sticks together, there was still no fire. ʻAlae gave Maui the name of different woods and Maui continued the stick rubbing and the neck twisting until he finally found fire. As the flames rose, Maui told ʻalae there was one more thing to rub. He took a stick from the fire and rubbed it on his prisoner's head until the feathers fell off and flesh was exposed. This is the reason mud hens have bald heads and man has the secret of fire.