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South West of the Setting Sun

The Half God

By TANIKA SMITH WHEATLEYPublished 3 months ago 221 min read
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Author & Artist: Tanika Smith Wheatley

South West of the Setting Sun

Author and artist: Tanika Smith Wheatley

This is a story about a Polynesian man known as Maui the Half God who travelled the Pacific in search of his father and in doing so, found several other islands, including Aoteroa, now known as New Zealand, for his people to live on. Some Maori believe that he was Hawaiian. The first great Polynesian migration to New Zealand was believed to have been made from either Hawaii, or Tahiti. And, the first great (I say great because this migration had a fleet of seven boats plus a smaller one that belonged to the half God) Polynesian migration landed in the Bay of Plenty at a place that they decided to call Hawai which is supposed to be after the old land.

Most (including me) however; believe that he was Tahitian, or from Rapanui. Others say that the Hawaiian migrated from Tahiti, then on to New Zealand. Some believe that the first great migration to New Zealand was from Rapanui and before that, the Rapanui people came from Tahiti, and the Maori language is the same as Tahitian, so that actually, might be closer to the truth. Besides, Rarotonga, which is the ‘in between stop-over refresh and replenish place between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ larger islands south west of the setting sun, the route of the ocean sea-farers to what is now known as New Zealand, also, speak the same language.

People believe his father was a God because he seemingly had more knowledge about the world than they did at the time. However, the Maori say that although the father and his people were fairer skinned, had what the Maori call blue sky eyes, also, like the Maori, they braided their hair, tattooed their faces and bodies, had food storage houses on poles, sat around their campfires singing, and chanted as they rowed their boats, so there are some these days that suspect that they may have been Vikings. And when New Zealand and the Maori were discovered, it is recorded, that some had fairer skin than the average Polynesian, and blue eyes. They also had food storage houses on poles, sat around their campfires singing, and chanted as they rowed their boats, just like the Vikings did. Regardless, I will attempt to write this story the way the Maori tell it…

Chapters

1 Maui Grows Up

2 The Young Man

3 The Man

4 The Journey

5 The Discovery

6 The Migration

7 The Half God

Prelude

The Birth It was a warm, humid evening. Still, Taranga shivered with mixed emotions. It didn’t seem right, being up here on the mountainside - nor did it feel natural, being indoors, as Anaa, her husband’s mother, insisted - she ran her hands over her stomach - the child was eager to be born - she had to get out of the house - she silently slid out of the bed, her bare feet recoiling on the cold hard surface of the floor - she bit her lip as another contraction rose deep inside her - like a stick from a fire slowly twisting and turning - closing her eyes tightly, holding her belly, she waited until the pain started easing - she opened her eyes, she could hear Anaa and others speaking in an adjoining room - she quietly moved to the door, barely daring to breathe - it squeaked as she pulled it open - she waited a moment, but no-one came running to stop her, from the other rooms - she silently slid out of the door - she leaned against the outside wall for a moment, and sighed - the safety of the forest was only meters away - the baby inside her moved - she held her belly as if to prevent it from being born - “not yet,” she whispered, “not yet…” and without glancing back, she ran towards the trees…

Inside, Anaa was about to go to Taranga’s room, but a strange feeling made her turn to the window instead - she gasped, “oh; no…”

Those in the room with her, including her son, Makea, Taranga’s husband, joined Anaa at the window, just in time to see the girl slip into the dark forest outside.

Makea ran to the door. “I’ll get her…”

Anaa was right behind him but stopped in the doorway. “Hurry, once she’s in that dense foliage, we’ll never find her…”

“Taranga!” Makea called, as he dashed into the brush behind her.

She hesitated. Her heart leaped at his nearness, as it always did. No! She told herself, keep going…but her legs seemed to lose their strength as another spasm shook her body. She sank to the ground - even as another contraction mercilessly took over, she smiled as she touched the earth - she lovingly entwined some turf between her fingers - she let herself roll over and looked up at the trees, their branches spreading out in all directions overhead - she watched the moisture in wistful mists curl around the thick, lush plants and she breathed deeply of their intoxicating aroma - as the thick branches swayed above her, she could still make out some of the sky above - swirling grey clouds banding together - a rolling rumble of thunder – no striking colourful shades of sunset, it was going to rain, and leaning on her elbows, she lifted her face to it…

Makea groaned. It was starting to rain. And when it rained on this mountainside, water turned into slippery mud and slush, making it difficult to hold onto anything, making it near impossible to climb, to keep from sliding downwards - he found that out when he and his mother and crew were shipwrecked here, and attempted climbing to higher ground. It didn’t take long for a gentle summer shower to change into sleet, and he gave up calling Taranga’s name, she wouldn’t hear it in the deluge anyway - but he didn’t give up looking for her - digging his feet into the ground, the boots already overflowing with water, and holding onto leaves and anything he could to stop from slipping, he was determined not to return without her…

Taranga loved the rain. Soon after they’d first met, she was enjoying a soft summer shower, dancing with delight in it - for a moment Makea had watched with amusement from the doorway of the shelter that the newcomers had made for themselves, then he was coaxing her indoors, and out of the rain - she joined him, but joked to Makea that she was more plant than human, and felt rejuvenated and refreshed after a good soaking, and he’d laughed, but also realized, with some dismay, that she’d meant it…

But now, ten months later, even under the dense foliage, the rain was too heavy, so not much remained dry in this deluge. She pulled herself up into seating position and leaned up against a tree trunk. Her mother had told her that she had been born in the rain. It was supposed to be a good sign, all children are held by Papa, mother Earth, when born, but not all are kissed by Rangi, father sky - she supposed that that was why she loved the rain so much. Makea was nearby, and she sensed it, but she didn’t call to him. She almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all. Makea and his people seemed so superior, yet they lacked natural senses and were not tuned into the environment - but they probably wouldn’t be, if they were not from here - her people believed that Makea and his people were Gods, but she wasn’t so sure - spending so much time with them over the past year since they’d arrived, she knew that they could feel pain, and bleed - just as mortal as she and her people were - she suspected that Tama the Tohunga thought so too, but he had been the one who had told the people that the lighter skinned newcomers were Gods - maybe he was just trying to keep peace between them and the strangers - maybe he wanted to study the strangers; maybe he thought that they might learn some things from them, he had his own reasons for saying such a thing - but she loved this Makea that was supposed to be a God, The God, in charge of the others that had arrived with him, and now, she was about to have his child…

Makea didn’t like rain. It made him feel just as grey and wrathful as the pouring wet seemed to be. He didn’t like losing his balance while slipping and sliding, he didn’t like his vision being impaired as he peered through the sleet, he didn’t like his clothes feeling heavy and clingy on his skin, he didn’t like his feet swishing around in his waterlogged boots, and he was getting angry. It would be night soon as well, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to find his way back to his shelter, let alone bring Taranga back with him. He was about to swear at his miserable predicament, when he thought he heard her laugh - he stopped and strained his ears - it was her laughter that he liked most about her - it always cheered him up, no matter how bad a mood he was in…

He blinked uncertainly in the rain. “Taranga,” he called, “Taranga…”

She laughed again. It sounded as though she was right beneath him. He looked down. He blinked in amazement. He wasn’t sure that he was seeing right. Then a flash of lighting lit up the scene and confirmed the sight - she was before him, leaning up against a tree, nursing a baby at her breast. And in that flash, he understood - why she had to be outside - why her people had to do the most natural thing among nature - and he knew that he will never forget that night, the trunk, the leaves, and grasses around her, the way her wet hair hung around her arms, covering both mother and child - all evidence of the birth washed away by the rain. Suddenly, he didn’t feel cold. Suddenly, he didn’t feel wet and miserable. He sat down beside her, leaned up against the cool trunk next to her, smelled in the intoxicating mix of living earth and flora, turned his face up towards the stormy sky, and felt embraced - entwined - a part of the world, alive in the world, instead of just living on it - feeling gently freshened by the rain, instead of uncomfortably drenched - and with this new found awareness, he laughed out loud – they happily laughed together, in the darkness…

The Tohunga But they were not alone - covered with the dark tattoo markings of both a brave warrior and expert healer and advisor, Tama the Tohunga was an expert at blending in with mother nature - he was also an expert at keeping still for long periods of time, at even slowing his breathing to a pace that gave barely any sign of life - no movement, no wispy vapours of breathe escaping into the coolness, like the mists around the lush plant life - he watched the couple and their newborn child with satisfaction - it had all gone to plan - his plan - from the moment he had watched, in the exact same spot, when the fairer skinned newcomers first arrived - on a night much like this one. He remembered in a flash of lightning, seeing the young man he would later find out was named Makea, who was their leader, help pull the others uphill against the surging slush pouring downhill - the others, so exhausted, almost resisted Makea’s help, but Makea did not give up, until he felt that they were all out of danger, high enough from any flooding, and could finally rest awhile, while waiting out the storm, when it would then be better to get their bearings, and decide what best to do next.

Tama had not offered to help them, at that time. He wanted to see how they’d deal with the deluge, and who was the strongest - there was nothing like a torrential storm to reveal strengths and weaknesses, the true natures of not only an individual, but of a community, to determine how best to use them - if they were here, it was imperative, for the safety of the native people on this island, to successfully learn to live together.

So it was Tama who, after the torrential night of the newcomer’s arrival, organized his people to approach the strangers, and offer food, to show the newcomers that they felt no hostility towards the newcomers, but instead, make them feel welcome - it was Tama who, explained to his people that the lighter skinned, lighter eyed people were superior beings, Gods - and it was Tama who, after a couple of days of the stranger’s existence on the island, invited; by hand gestures, the Gods to a formal dinner, to come down to the village and eat with the natives - and, it was Tama who, made sure that it was the Chief’s daughter, Taranga, who served the main God - and just as planned, the lovely girl, not yet fat enough to be thought of as beautiful, but pretty in her youthful adolescence, caught the eye of the newcomer’s leader, the strong, brave, Makea…

Soon after the baby’s birth in the rain, just as silently as the Tohunga had watched the birth and then the parents clinging happily and lovingly to each other against the tree trunk, Tama slipped away in the undergrowth - he knew that naturally, the newcomers would miss their own home and people, and plan to return as soon as they were able, but now he had succeeded in keeping their blood united with his own people - and how better, than the blood of the fair God, with their own Princess - a child that would always be revered as half God, half Royal - what better apprentice could he, the Tohunga, have to teach, what better leader for their people to follow - little did he realize at that time, but that was exactly what would happen - this night, was the first step, in the future destiny of his people…

The Aliens “Haha…” Makea, stripped to his trousers, twirled, and splashed in the rain.

His crew looked at him uncertainly. They’d been working, repairing their ship.

Angaur, strong, muscular and with a mass of golden curls, was Makea’s second in command and best friend. He shook his head at Makea. “You’re becoming a native…”

Makea only grinned all the more. He had a son. A healthy, beautiful, baby boy. “Be happy for me!”

Angaur shook his head even more. “We must concentrate on repairing our ship. And it’s not easy, in this blasted rain!”

Makea looked over his friends. “But the rain, I’ve learned, is lovely - it helps keep us cool while we work.” They looked unconvinced so he continued, “OK, If you can’t be happy for me, be happy for yourselves - the ship’s almost ready, and we’ll be going home soon…”

“But…” Angaur shook his head again, “you hate the rain!”

“That’s before I realized – everything has negatives, and positives – for instance, we could either feel wet, or fresh, it’s up to us, to decide - this place - the land, the sky – the natives say ‘embrace it, and it will embrace us’…”

There was no reply. His people thought that the boss was turning into a native. Makea looked over his friends. Besides Angaur, there was Kai, and his wife Moana, expert at ship building and maintenance, and two young apprentice cadets, Manu and Riki - his mother Anaa, who was at this moment back at their makeshift shelter further up on the mountain, was the navigator - theirs was a smaller scouting ship, separated from the rest of the fleet in the torrential storm - such a storm that they doubted the others believed that they had survived, and had continued on their journey.

Angaur stopped working and looked at Makea. “You do know that we can’t take the baby back with us; don’t you?”

The smile left Makea’s face. “I’m not leaving him behind…”

“And how are we going to feed him?” Angaur looked at Moana, the second to oldest of the crew, after her husband Kai, but a cross look directed back at the big man, and he couldn’t say what he’d been thinking, that the other woman perhaps, but no, of course not. He continued, “there’s not enough room, for Taranga…”

Makea shook his head. “We’ll squeeze in…”

“That will make it too dangerous!”

“We’ll make the necessary alterations…”

“We’ve spent so much time repairing the ship, and we’re almost finished - we’d have to take the ship apart and rebuild from scratch, that means a lot more time stuck here - we’ve already been here too long! The fleet would be so far away from us already…”

All knew what he was thinking. By the time the rest of their fleet realized that they were not with them, it would have been too late to start searching, slowing the ships even more than the storm had - if they were able to repair their ship quickly, they may have caught up to the fleet - but now they would have to try to follow and hopefully don’t get lost – their ships could be too far away to catch up with, let alone communicate…

“I’m not leaving them…” Makea grabbed his shirt but did not put it back on.

Angaur had never been so mad at his superior and friend before. He even suspected that Makea was purposely unhurried in repairing their ship. “Who? Who Makea, will you leave behind so you can take your bed-mate with you?”

Makea took a step towards Angaur, fists clenched. The others stepped in between their leader and the big man.

Makea sneered. “You don’t think that I don’t know about you and your native girlfriend?”

Angaur pushed past the others and stood before Makea. “She knows that we enjoy each other while we’re forced to live together on this island. She knows I will return to my own home without her. Does yours?”

“What if she has your child Angaur? Will you be prepared to leave mother and child behind?”

Angaur swallowed. He thought that he could just up and leave, when ready - but could he ever really leave his own child behind? A vision of him staying behind with the natives and waving goodbye to his crew crossed his mind. It wasn’t an unpleasant thought. Although it rained a lot, when it didn’t, it was how one might imagine paradise to be. And he knew that it was the rain that kept the place paradisaically lush and green. He softened. “I…I won’t see her anymore…”

“How do you know that it might already be too late?” Makea turned and started striding back up towards their shelter.

Angaur called after him. “Taranga might not want to leave her home and family. Did that possibility even occur to you? Or do you think that you’re actually in charge of a Princess. Perhaps you think that you’re in charge of everyone on this island?”

Makea called back over his shoulder. “They, think I’m a God, Angaur…”

Angaur called back. “They think we’re all Gods…”

“But they know that I’m in…” Makea faltered, “in charge…”

Realization hit Angaur. She’d already told him she’s not leaving - he’s acting like a spoiled brat - they’ve obviously argued about it. And this wasn’t the first time Makea just up and left in a huff. Was Makea even in a hurry to repair the ship and leave? He groaned, and looked at the others, all blinking miserably in the rain, which was now pouring down hard. “We may as well stop working too…” A flash of lightning interrupted him. “Come on, before it rains so hard that we’ll have to pull each other uphill…”

Makea was the first to reach their shelter.

Anaa was preparing an evening meal for the workers. She looked up from her work and looked over her half-dressed son. “You’re becoming a native!”

The food smelled good, but Makea was so angry, that he’d lost his appetite. “That’s the second time I’ve heard that today! You should try it sometime; chill a little, dance in the rain!” The others were just arriving behind him, and he turned on them. “You should all give it a go - you might learn something, like the rain actually helps, not hinders…” he waited a moment, as if he expected them to argue, but they brushed past him, and went to dry off.

Anaa spoke to her son’s back. “May I remind you my son, that it was the rain that bought us here, to this - God forsaken place…”

“God forsaken place?” Makea turned back to his mother. He wanted to laugh at the irony. “We’re the Gods of this place; mother, the rain bought us to our destiny…”

Anaa - a blond beauty, regal, always in control, sighed. Her son has been spending too much time with the Tohunga, she thought, she knew Makea had learned quite a bit of his language. But she wasn’t in the mood to argue, she never was - she turned back to her cooking and changed the subject. “How is the baby?”

Makea couldn’t hide his disappointment. After a few days of his birth, Anaa still could not bring herself to call him by his name, or her grandson.

“He’s fine mother,” Makea knew that his mother feared the natives and he could not resist adding, “he’s just down in the village, not far from here, fifteen, maybe twenty minutes away - you are always welcome to visit your grandchild…”

Anaa looked away, unfazed by her son’s mood. At least he didn’t add, and her daughter in law…

The Princess Before she met Makea, Taranga had been attracted to Tama. She knew that he liked her. He was almost old enough to be her father, but the interesting and attractive Tohunga fascinated her, and if he joined her love dance circle of hopeful husband applicants, he was one that she seriously considered choosing. She was old enough to be a wife and mother, and her tribe were already preparing for her wedding. So it was with some surprise that her father, the Chief Muri, sent for her, and when she joined him, he was sitting on a log outside of their family shelter. He told her about the welcome feast that had been planned for their visitors, the newcomers who resided on the mountainside, and that she was expected to serve the main God.

Taranga was clever and knew why. She was royal and never expected to serve anyone, unless her father wanted to parade her in front of Makea. She frowned. “What?”

“You are to make sure that the God has enough food to eat, and drink…”

Taranga interrupted her father. “I know all that! You want him to notice me. But I…I…”

His daughter had always been a determined girl, but still obedient. “Most girls would dream of the chance to be with a God - it’s a rare opportunity…”

Taranga sat beside him, on the log. “Exactly, there are lots of girls who would want to be with a God. But I…”

Muri interrupted his daughter. “You are of age. And a God has come to our land. The timing is perfect…”

“But…this is so sudden. I don’t even know him. I haven’t even met him yet. Or any of them…”

“None of us have met all of them yet, that’s why we’re having a Lua-au dinner party, to formally welcome them, to get to know them…”

The girl had heard of Gods, and how demanding they can be. “What if he’s like the war God? Or the Sky God Rangi? Huge? Angry? Hurling lightning around…would you give your daughter to them?”

He turned to her so suddenly that she jumped with fright and slid to the ground. He leaned towards her gently, but she had not missed the anger that had momentarily been in his eyes. “My daughter,” he said as he helped her up from the ground, “just serve him, tonight…you may not even like each other…”

She did not sit beside him again. She stood in front of him. “Tonight? So soon?”

“At sunset…”

For a moment, there was silence between them. They glared at each other.

She turned her eyes away first. “Shouldn’t we speak to Tama about it?”

Her father kept his eyes on her. “It was Tama’s idea…”

Taranga gulped. She didn’t know what to think. She thought that Tama returned her affection. Blinking back tears, she turned, and started walking away. “Then…I will serve the God…”

But that gave the girl no comfort. She was feeling rejected, and betrayed, by Tama, the one man that she had hoped, and dreamed, would be her husband.

Tama was headed towards her father. Taranga was between them. She turned, and ran back, passed her father, and into their shelter. She would not show the Tohunga how upset she was, she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry. She tried to brush away the tears with her fingers, but to her annoyance, they kept falling down her cheeks.

“Stop that!” That was her mother Kiri, Taranga had not seen her in the dark shadows, after coming inside from the bright daylight...

Kiri moved towards her daughter, until her face could be seen under the light streaming in from the smoke gap in the middle of the roof above them.

Taranga blinked. When had she grown taller than her mother, she wondered, she hadn’t noticed, until now.

The older woman reached out to push some of Taranga’s hair out of the way, that had fallen and covered the girl’s face. She tried to smile encouragingly. “I know you wanted another…”

Taranga sniffed. She looked at the lovely lady in front of her. “You were promised to dad; weren’t you, mother?”

The older woman nodded. “Our marriage was…expected…”

“Were you happy?”

“Not at first,” she sat, motioned her daughter to sit beside her, and when Taranga did so, with a faraway look in her eyes, Kiri continued, “we cannot help who we fall in love with…”

“You married father anyway…”

“Yes…”

“Why?”

“Because he sat in my circle, the man that I wanted, did not…”

Taranga couldn’t imagine any man not joining her pretty mother’s circle. “Oh…”

“He probably thought it best, knowing our parents preferred…an agreed match…”

“He was a coward!” Taranga’s tears had stopped, in her anguish for her mother and wrath for the man that her mother had loved. “He should have fought for you!”

“Brave, actually…it is not easy giving up on love…”

The women looked at each other for a moment in silence, as the younger realized that the older was instructing her, helping her to make the right decision.

“I don’t know if I could do that…”

The mother reached out and hugged her daughter. “But I did grow to love your father, and after all these years, I still do…”

Taranga breathed deeply of the Kawakawa extract that her mother used to make her hair gleam. She loved that smell. “When? When did you realize that you loved him?”

“When you, were born…”

The Dinner It had been a perfect evening. Not too hot, certainly not cold, and with the gentlest, slightest cool breeze softly blowing in from the ocean. The sky was bright and dramatic, with brilliant shades of a pink and purple sunset reflecting in a calm, azure sea.

Taranga, feeling numb at what was expected of her, did not notice the beauty of the evening, did not smell the intoxicating cooking aromas of fowl and fish wrapped in greens, and stood like a statue as her mother dressed her – draped her in a newly made soft Mo-o gown fastened on a shoulder – so new it still smelled of the murex shells that had been boiled to dye it a pretty soft pale blue – her mother started combing her long thick hair, and over a shoulder, twirled it loosely, looped the end and threaded it through to fasten it in place, then fastened some Frangipani throughout the length.

“You look lovely daughter,” smiled her mother, Kiri, encouragingly, “go and check your reflection in the pond…”

“No need,” was the daughter’s resigned response, “you are very clever with clothing and accessories…”

“Cheer up daughter,” placing a finger under the girl’s chin, she lifted Taranga’s face to hers, so she was forced to look at her mother’s eyes, “it’s just dinner…he mightn’t even like you!”

Taranga blinked uncertainly, then a smile slowly appeared on the girl’s face. “I can make sure of that, while serving him, I’ll accidentally on purpose spill his food all over him!”

Kiri started to chide her daughter, beg her to behave, but she could not stop her laughter.

When the King entered to inform his wife and daughter that the dinner was beginning, he found them both giggling uncontrollably. He smiled. “Glad to see that you’re both happy about this evening after all. Come on, Tama’s gone to get the guests, they will be arriving soon…”

When the King and Queen were seated on their high seats, and the villagers seated on the ground on either side of the village square, all happily talking together while waiting for the Gods to arrive, Taranga’s sad mood returned. Standing with a few other young adults whose job was to make sure that the visitors were served and looked after, seemed to take forever, waiting for their guests to arrive. Taranga tried concentrating on the beautiful sunset. Red and orange hues were reflected on the sea and the sun seemed to be hovering above the horizon – she wanted to see the sun sink, but it was in no hurry – she sighed – the others with her didn’t seem to be bored, or anxious, in fact, they looked happy, their smiling faces turned towards where the guests would arrive, expectantly, eagerly – Taranga tried to force a smiling face towards the mountain path to blend in with them, but she knew that all she could manage was more of a sneer than a smile, and sighed – in the hushed atmosphere it sounded louder than she’d intended and another girl, who was waiting closest to her, looked at her, raised her eyebrows to see Taranga was not excited at seeing the entrance of the Gods, then turned quickly from her as if it might be contagious, even shifted, put some space between her and the bored Princess, then turned her smiling face back to the mountain path.

A glance at the sea below and behind them showed that the sun was still suspended above the ocean, as if it also, was waiting for the Gods to appear – she was about to sigh again, but did not want to draw more attention to herself from the girl who had moved away from her a moment ago, so held her breath, but the girl looked her way again anyway, and Taranga waited for the girl to turn away before slowly exhaling as quietly as she could – still, the girl moved even further away from her – the torch bearers jogged around lighting the flares, the musicians started playing their pipes, Taranga did not have to look at the sun to know that it had finally and suddenly dropped into the ocean, and with the sound of someone blowing on the Conche Call Shell, Tama and his guests finally appeared from the final ascent of the mountain…

At first, they seemed to be just like normal people as Tama took them between the villagers to introduce them to the King and Queen. It wasn’t until they were being seated, the main God, his mother, and his next in charge on the King’s right, and the others on the Queen’s left, among the natives, that Taranga did notice that they were indeed, as Tama had informed them, fair skinned, fair haired, and fair eyed, compared to her people. Otherwise, they all had two ears, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two arms and two legs, just like…no…she gulped, the men, had hair around their mouths…what was that phenomenon? Were they Gods of hair? She put her hand over her mouth to stop laughing at them and thankfully right then, the food was being brought in from the cooking area – ground oven slow roasted fowl with slices of Kumera and Taro – charcoaled and smoked fish wrapped in Puha – and steamed shellfish with coconut and pineapple – and Taranga immediately concentrated on serving the food, to keep from doing so and it mostly worked, at least, she had a grin on her face now, than the apprehensive bored expression while waiting.

Her job was to make sure that the main God had plenty to eat. So, taking a large bowl with the fowl and fish and their accompaniments, she would also take some shellfish on a platter - she made her way to her father and his guest. She was supposed to approach them and place the food before them, so the God would notice her, but she walked around them from behind, and placed the bowls between them, to share. And before the God had a chance to look up and thank her, she’d gone, ignoring the astonished looks on her parent’s faces. She thought that her plan had worked, but the main God had indeed noticed her, anyway…

She went back to where she’d been waiting. No longer apprehensive, no longer sighing, with a smile, she sat on the ground with her back to the festivities and watched the sea – it was getting quite dark now, and one little star twinkled above her – it would take some time for the God to consume the copious amount of food that she’d placed before him, so she imagined that she could sit for a while and enjoy the evening. She felt clever, pleased with herself. Her parents had hoped that the God would notice her, they had no idea that she’d planned to serve the food from behind – she almost laughed out loud at her deviousness.

But her plan backfired. She lingered longer than she realized. The full moon was high and bright above her when a twig snapped, a shadow fell over her, and the God sat beside her, a platter of food in his hands. And he surprised her most of all, when he managed to mumble in her own language, obviously someone, probably her very clever father, told him how to say, “thank you, now let me serve you…”

The Circle So it was a very different Taranga, from the bored and devious girl at the dinner, when soon after, she was preparing for her wedding circle. And the sun was shining, hardly a breeze stirred, a perfect day, for a wedding.

Her mother was laughing with her, when she placed the beautiful matching Jasmin entwined vine necklace and headband that she’d made, on her daughter. The rolling of the Jasmin flowers and leaves created large decorative hoops so this time, she only wore a long plain Pareu gown which draped softly and alluringly around her and also this time, she ran happily to examine her reflection in a pond, her mother right behind her.

“Do you think he’ll come mother?”

“Of course…”

She turned to her mother. “I didn’t dare dream…” she shook her head, “I didn’t think I’d meet someone else…” she stopped, her mother had no idea that she had hoped to marry Tama, “how did this…all happen? So unexpectedly, so suddenly?”

Kiri gathered her daughter into her arms. “A very clever Tama, and your very clever father…”

At the mention of Tama, the girl’s smile disappeared. As far back as she could remember, Tama had always been there for her. Showing, and teaching her things – he’d spent more time with her than any of the other children in the tribe. He hadn’t married. She thought that he was waiting for her to grow up, she thought that they loved each other…

As if reading her daughter’s mind, Kiri sighed, and surprised Taranga by saying. “Tama’s too old for you, my daughter…”

Taranga gulped, she should have known that her own mother knew of her feelings for the expert. She wanted to say, ‘about the same number of years between dad and you, mother,’ but didn’t. She was feeling too ecstatic to be sarcastic over nothing of importance, on this, her very special day.

“And…Makea is a God,” continued her mother, “and very handsome…”

Taranga smiled, remembering the time he’d sat with her saying, ‘let me serve you...’ Although it had been nighttime, in the glow of the full moon above them, she could see the cleft in strong brow, and through a small thin beard, cleft in strong chin, and when he smiled at her she could see the dimples, and soft eyes – after being surrounded by dark eyes her whole life, she was mesmerized by the softest eyes that she had ever seen, softer even than the radiant blue sky, softer than the deep blue sea. “Soft eyes,” she had said to him, but he had not understood her, but they both knew right then and there, that they wouldn’t have to understand each other’s words…

“Oh, look,” her mother interrupted her daughter’s thoughts and pointed, “men are arriving, seating themselves in a circle, your circle, in the town square…”

Taranga was surprised. The whole village knew that the God was interested in the Princess, perhaps these men were hoping that the God albeit felt too divine to couple with a mortal and she gulped – what if that were true?

“The musicians are arriving too now,” Kiri continued, “you’d better go, go to your wedding circle…”

Taranga swallowed, and nodded – but HE, was not there. She walked slowly, hesitantly – looking towards the mountain, their beautiful mountain – the place that the God Makea, and his band of lesser Gods, chose to reside on – where are you, she thought as she approached her circle of suiters, where are you?

Watching their daughter, who had been oh, so excited just moments earlier, the parents also, looked towards the majestic mountain in sadness, but Muri hugged his wife close, always the optimist, he looked at some of the young nobles and great warriors who had seated themselves on the ground, forming her circle of hopeful suitors, waiting patiently for her to make a decision…the Chief would be very proud to have any one of them, as his son in law…

Nearing the base of the mountain, Makea hesitated once more. He had hesitated moments earlier also, up above, in their makeshift quarters. Then when he’d finally made the decision to go to Taranga, he had run all the way down the mountain, hoping that he was not too late. They did not live on the top, still, it was quite a way to go, with a rough and often slippery terrain to get through, with an ancient pathway that led to the village, that in parts had broken away among alternative rocky and overgrown precarious edges and slopes, with sometimes no trees to grab hold of while slipping and sliding and other times, having to break through the dense foliage. How Tama, descending the mountain before him, managed to swiftly descend without dislodging rocks, without slipping and sliding, and without grabbing plants to steady himself, was a mystery to the younger man…he supposed that growing up on this small island, the older man probably knew every inch of it…

Tama spent a lot of time with the newcomers and the instinctive man was already understanding some of their language. Still, he was a man of few words and always managed to get his messages across to the natives and newcomers alike quite well using body language, and indicative signs.

Makea was exceptionally clever also, always top of his class and studies, hence at a young age he was captain of his vehicle and crew, and he knew that Tama was attempting to get him to go to Taranga’s circle – the way the natives conducted their weddings. Apparently, in this society, the female, when ready, would dance seductively, enticing males to sit around her, and at the end of her dance, she would decide which man she wanted, by taking off her flower necklace and placing it around the man she chose.

Moments before, Angaur also understood what was happening, and was encouraging his captain and friend to attend.

“I…can’t,” Makea shook his head, “we’re leaving as soon as we can, I can’t do that to her…” he remembered the way she had blinked in surprise at him when he approached her with food at the welcome dinner, “to Taranga…”

“We don’t even know if we’ll ever be able to fix our ship Makea,” Angaur gulped, “it might be beyond repair…we have to resign ourselves to the fact that this might be our new home. We have to continue living our lives…”

Angaur might be right, Makea sighed, he knew that his second in charge who had become his best friend while working together, already had a native girlfriend, so did their two young apprentices - they had been here for days now and apart from the obvious crash damages to the hull, which, without the correct tools and having to use alternative materials, could take months to repair, and they still had no idea what exactly was wrong with the mechanics either…

“Go to her Makea, she’s lovely, and she adores you…”

“But she’s not…” he was about to say ‘just a girl’, “she’s a Princess, and her father wants her to get married…”

Angaur nodded. “Yes, to you…now get down there!”

Makea looked at his mother who was working nearby, and can hear their conversation, but as usual, she shrugged, and uncommittedly looked away – she was a clever woman, but as far back as he could remember, she had always expected him to make his own decisions. She never even gave him any suggestions to consider. And he knew he would not get any answers from her right now, nor any contemplations. Growing up, he’d even imagined that he’d preferred being able to make his own decisions. But now, a bit of motherly concern and guidance would be very much appreciated. But she continued working, did not stop, did not even look at him. And when they heard the conche shell being blown, indicating that the event was moments away from starting, down in the village, almost as if to spite his mother, he answered his friend, “you’re right Angaur, I should be down there…”

Tama sighed. Makea was gasping after his descent, running almost all the way down the mountain, but Tama knew that the young man was having doubts – again – just like up on the mountain minutes earlier, when Angaur was telling him to go. He went back to the young man. Makea was bent over, trying to get his breath back, and wondering why the older man had not even worked up a sweat. And Tama was wondering why the younger man was panting, they had descended the mountain, not ascended it. And only a small part, of the high peak.

All Tama did was point at the girl dancing – surrounded by several hopeful men – of course – she was beautiful – Makea had thought so that first night he’d met her, but in the daylight, she was prettier than he remembered – even from a distance, he could see that she was slim yet shapely, had a perfect oval face, large dark eyes, a small nose albeit with flaring nostrils, which gave the impression that they’d flare even more so when angered, but it was her mouth that he loved the most, the swollen looking pouty bottom lip that quivered when she was surprised, and parted when she was excited, like she was doing right now, when she noticed that finally, he had arrived – and how glad she was that she had purposely prolonged her dance – for although all the men in her circle were handsome, masculine men, she could not stop thinking of his soft ‘sky’ eyes, his dimples, and she could not choose another…

Exhaustion forgotten, Makea started running again – to her circle – to her – she stopped dancing and lifted the Jasmin necklace from herself – just as he reached her and took her in his arms, and happily swinging her around, she placed the flowers over his head, onto his shoulders…

The Lovers Formalities over, another formal dinner was being prepared to celebrate the marriage, when Tama happily returns to Makea’s crew, to invite them down to celebrate the wedding festivities. And like the first welcome dinner, at the sound of the Conche Call, they arrived to a perfect sunset, a warm beautiful evening, with the softest, gentlest breeze from the ocean gently fanning the trees, flares and happy people. Mostly happy people, Anaa, Makea’s mother, was not happy, and although she had expected her foolish son would make the wrong decision, seeing them happily embracing each other as if no-one else was around, exasperated her - but they were few compared to the natives, so when the happy couple sat themselves on the ground, instead of on the two high seats like they were supposed to, she placed herself next to her son, with Taranga on his other side. Following her lead, Taranga’s parent’s also placed themselves next to their daughter, also, on the ground.

Still, Anaa sneered at her son, “These people must only have two seats in the whole village,” she knew that with her own kind, only royalty used to use seats, and then larger ones, thrones, when everyone else started using chairs, but nothing was going to interrupt his happiness this night, and without taking his face from his wife to the mother who had ignored him earlier, rather than give him any advice, also sneered back, “why can’t you be happy for me mother? We’re hopelessly lost, but luckily, we’re not on our own…shipwrecked on a pretty, abundantly fertile place, with a few other friendly people to live with…”

Anaa had a foreboding feeling, friendly so far, but she could not help but wonder for how long, but did not want to worry her son with her fears – for now, she hadn’t seen her son so happy, ever since they’d lost control of their ship and crashed on a place that was Paradisiacal one day, then torrential the next and she suspected, just like its inhabitants…

In the style of these natives, celebrational dinners were expected to last the whole night. Food eaten unhurriedly, musicians playing drums and pipes, entertainers twirling Poi Poi flares, and dancing was encouraged – and when during the night some giggling couples slipped into the foliage for privacy, Anaa sighed – she was a widower, had been alone for what seemed like ages, and fidgeted as she realized she couldn’t even remember what it felt like to love a man, to make love to one, and she looked down at her food so she didn’t have to see all the handsome, masculine, half naked males laughing and partying around her – she wanted to leave, return up the mountain, but she was the groom’s mother, the bride’s mother in law and she wondered how long she should stay before retiring – but she needn’t have worried, for suddenly, two giggling girls were helping the bride and groom rise, and were taking them from the party, towards a softly lit little hut – obviously, a newly made house for the newlyweds – the King and Queen rose, this was the sign that they all should, and everyone followed Makea and Taranga – witnesses, to the wedding night – Anaa was just wondering if they had to witness the coupling as well, but thankfully, when the couple entered, the same two giggling girls closed the door, upon which everyone started dispersing – the couple had been led to their new home – what happened after that, was up to the couple and finally, Anaa knew that she could retire – Angaur, Manu and Riki were running into the woods with their own native girlfriends, and for a moment, Anaa wondered at her descending the mountain on her own in the dark, when Kai and Moana joined her, a flare in Kai’s hand…

“Lovely wedding party,” Moana tried cheering up a rather despondent Anaa, “Makea, our captain, has married a Princess…”

Anaa turned her head from the light of the flare to hide her expression from the others, and fought back a groan, and a feeling of foreboding, but she did manage to nod, “yea…”

Kai and Moana looked at each other, even without seeing Anaa’s face, they knew that she was thinking exactly what they were both thinking, what happens when their ship is fixed? They shouldn’t take Taranga, will Makea stay behind? Leave his people, their journey, their mission, their own home?

“Well,” Kai voiced another disturbing possibility, “we may not be able to repair our ship, and with our coordinates not working properly at the moment, our own people will not be able to find out where we are…” his voice trailed off in despair…

“Nonsense!” Anaa sounded harsh to her own ears, “we will repair our ship, we do not belong here! The others are amusing themselves while we’re here, but we will return, leave this place, if it’s the last thing we do!” They continued the rest of their way up the mountainside in silence.

A few days later, Makea bought Taranga up the mountain. She thought that he was showing her his place, and at first, she took an interest in everything, oohing and aahing at their belongings, things she’d never seen before, like the thick clothing they had for the cold, made of materials she did not recognize, like the thick soft bedding, unlike the wreathed matting on the floor, or netlike hammocks strung up between poles or trees, that she was used to. But he was expecting her to stay there, with them, as he had to work on their ship, spend as much time as he could on the repairs, but as soon as she realized his intentions, she ran down the mountain, he close behind, but like Tama, she seemed to know exactly where to put her feet and he, struggling with the almost non-existent pathway, couldn’t catch her, and he found himself back with his wife, in their new little house.

So, it was a rather distraught husband that decided that he had to find Tama. To his surprise, when he opened their door, he was on the porch. Makea smiled and grabbing a hand, pulled Tama into their home and commenced trying to make himself understood. But Tama knew that the young new husband was trying to repair his craft, and before Makea could speak, he put his hand up, to shush the husband. He had his own reason to keep Makea working on his craft, Tama did not tell them, but once Taranga was impregnated, it would be easier for the Tohunga to teach, bring-up and watch a Half God child develop, if the father was not around – Makea knew that the Tohunga understood a lot of their language already and was thankful when Tama faced Taranga to let her know that her husband had a job to do. Some husbands were expert builders, others expert sailors, most were trained warriors, and hunted birds and went fishing, and because ground ovens were dug and lined with rocks, even did most of the cooking. Some women became learned in temple rites which included the use of medicinal plants and nursing, and dancing to the Gods as a form of worship for the health and well-being of the tribe, all had to have some basic self-defense techniques and food gathering knowledge, including making clothing, jewelry, baskets, wall and window hangings, screens and dividers for rooms in a house, ceremonial costume making, warrior headpieces, the list goes on, and Makea must also tend to his duties, especially as the main God of his divine companions as well – so Taranga agreed, she would live with her husband, if Makea had no objections to her still being with her tribe in her house sometimes as well, mainly when Makea was working – she will spend time at both locations and at least she knew the importance of being with her husband at his place as much as possible also and to Tama’s relief, both Makea and Taranga agreed – a compromise would work, it would even give Makea some much needed breaks away from his work – besides, after being with Taranga for a few days, he found himself wondering if he even wanted their ship to be repaired – he was in love, he was happy, and he was living in Paradise…

The Departure But they did, after many frustrations and disappointments, finally manage to repair their craft…

They were supposed to be joyous about it – they were, well, mostly – Anaa was, she admitted that their temporary island home was nice, most of the time, but Paradise also had a lot of rain, it wouldn’t be Paradisiacal, without abundant water, but the sudden storms could be precarious, and she hated being drenched and waiting long hours wasted the much needed repairing time.

The others were happy about leaving as well, but they had spent so much time on the island, and had made new lives for themselves including close friendships with some of the natives, that it would be a sad departure for them, as well as an exciting one…the natives loved to party so would put on a large dinner evening for any little reason; a birth, a death (they believed that the soul continued to the next realm in its mortal/immortal journey and should be celebrated rather than mourned), a wedding, a divorce (they also did not believe they should stay together if not suitable with each other), a great fishing catch (the community may as well enjoy the fresh food together), the list goes on…

Makea, now a father, was the most reluctant to leave. But he knew that he had to – he was not from here, he, and his people, had their own home, relatives, friends, and lives. He wanted to find space for Taranga, she was his wife, wives went wherever their husbands went, didn’t they? But he had a feeling that the Princess made all her own decisions and he had to admit, there really was not enough room for another adult – there was, but not to their strict safety guidelines, and provisions, and the others objected, but he was in charge, and he wanted to take his wife and son with him. He hoped that he could convince Taranga that they should be together, a family, but he had a strong feeling that she’d refuse, which would be heartbreaking enough for him, but he was definitely not, going to leave his son behind…

The clever Tohunga though knew of Makea’s plans – but he had plans of his own – he warned the girl, and told her to hide her son, and so that he himself knew where the child was at all times, even told her how best to, in a basket, on the river, between the thick bullrushes – Makea might search the village, maybe even the whole island, but the water, he hoped not…

Makea was so happy as he sought Taranga out, that when he found her in her little house and took her in his arms, he did not at first notice that she, was not pleased…

“Our craft is ready,” he started excitedly, by this time, she had learned quite a lot of her husband’s language – he on the other hand, had not bothered learning much of hers, and continued in his own language, “we can return to my home, my people, I can’t wait to introduce you and our son to them…” that’s when he felt her stiffen in his embrace, he stood back, somewhere in the back of his mind he realized that she might not be as enthusiastic about leaving her own home and family and friends, but she was his wife, Maui was his son, they were a family, and families stay together, follow the main protector and provider, don’t they? Now that his craft was finally repaired, he was in no mood for any further problems…he stood back and smiled at her, hoping some of his happiness might be contagious…he looked deeply into her eyes for some response, he knew that she had understood him…

She tried to smile, but failed – she tried to look back into his expectant eyes, but could not and in fact involuntarily, she stepped back, as if trying to put some space between them – that’s when he knew that she was reluctant to leave her home and he looked around suspiciously and gasped – their baby was not in her house…”Taranga,” he started to panic, he realized that he should have insisted that they all live together as a family up on the mountain as his instincts had warned him to, but the Tohunga had convinced him that the compromise of spending some time at both places would be best for them both, and he groaned. “Sweetheart, where is Maui?”

She didn’t answer, he tried not to show his fear, his growing anger, “Taranga, my love, is the baby visiting with his grandparents?”

She swallowed, and looked up at him from beneath her long eyelashes, “my husband, we are…” she hesitated, “we are not going with you…”

Makea gulped - he hadn’t even mentioned leaving yet, he had underestimated the natives – without knowing each other’s languages fully, he hadn’t realized that they knew that the newcomers hadn’t intended staying. “Taranga, you are my wife, in front of everyone, I joined your wedding circle, you chose me, and we got married…” he tried taking her in his arms again, but again, she stepped back, and tears slid down her cheeks. He softened. “We love each other…we are a family, we have to be together, Taranga, you think we’re Gods, you think that I’m the God of the Gods, but our world is not frightening Taranga, maybe not as much sunshine as your world, but you and Maui will be safe – as my wife and son, my people will not harm you…”

Taranga sniffed, wiped her face with her hands, but shook her head uncertainly…

Makea placed his hands on either side of her face and forced her to look at him. “I love you Taranga, now let’s go and get Maui…”

She blinked, he could see that she was reconsidering and added encouragingly, “come on, let’s go and get our son…”

He took her hand, and made for the door - but when he opened it, he stopped, in shock – her house was surrounded by the men of the tribe – unsmiling men - he looked back at her in confusion. He looked back at the men who had treated him like a God – had they realized that he was not a God? Then they parted, and he noticed that Tama the Tohunga was at the end.

“We know that you were leaving,” Tama nodded pleasantly, “and gathered to wish you a safe journey…” then stepped aside – obviously, Makea was supposed to leave through the passage the men had made between them. He was alone. Even if his people had accompanied him, they were few, compared to the natives. And, he had left his weapons up on the mountain. It did not occur to him that he would need weapons against the people who had treated him like a God. He knew that he had no other choice but to leave – leave the woman he loved, leave his child – he looked back at Taranga hopelessly, she was inwardly grieving, he could tell, but she was not going to leave with him – so without another word, he walked through the throng, and headed towards their ship – but with each step he took, he was getting angrier and by the time he had reached it, it was getting dark, and he also, was in a dark mood - he was seething…

“Let’s go!” Was all he said to the others, and they all silently readied themselves, strapped themselves in place and attended to their varying duties in the safe operation of their craft. He was at the front of the craft. Lights were on now in the village, it looked peaceful, it looked pretty, it looked like a Paradisiacal place to live, and they were no longer welcome there - which angered Makea even more so and gritting his teeth together, considered blowing the place to smithereens…

Anaa was near him and knew what he was thinking. She placed her hand over his, to prevent him from doing so. “Maui is there,” she whispered, but even above the sounds of the craft, he heard her – she had never called Maui by his name before, she had only ever referred to him as reluctantly and as if an embarrassment, ‘the baby’. He looked at her in surprise. She never showed emotion. But right now, she had tears in her eyes. He turned his attention from the village, and steered their craft away from the island…

Southwest of the Setting Sun

Chapter One

Maui Grows Up

Tama had a big grin on his face as he watched the baby Maui sleeping peacefully in a little crib he had made for him…it had all gone exactly to plan, his plan…

At first, when the newcomers had left, Taranga had come running to his little shelter (he lived on the outskirts of the village on a clifftop where he could keep an eye on the village, and the river that flowed down from the mountain, past the village and into the sea), Taranga had come running to him distraught and screaming that she couldn’t find Maui, that somehow, Makea had found and taken him – how she had run to the bullrushes, after her husband and his people left, noticed the basket was not where she had placed it, and had plunged into the cold water and searched for him everywhere, frantically pulling some of the plants up as she did so…

Tama as usual, did not panic – he never panicked in front of people, and calmly removed his cloak, walked over to a sandbank in the cliffs, and slid down to the place where the river flowed out into the ocean, eyes searching the sea and river as he did so and there he saw the basket, bobbing on the waves as the water started increasing its pace into the ocean, about to flow out to sea – he was a strong swimmer and diving in, grabbed the basket and bought it back to the shore – the baby seemed quiet, not crying in fear, and he lifted the blanket and peeked inside – and with a sigh of relief, noticed that the child was sleeping, breathing normally, unaware of his first adventure in his short life – the basket was damp at the bottom though, water either seeped in through areas that hadn’t been waterproofed enough, or had trickled in over the sides – it was obvious that he had reached the basket just in time, before sinking. He gently took the baby out and held it up so Taranga who was still watching from the clifftop, could see that Maui was fine – that’s when the baby woke, and cried, and Taranga laughed happily. Inwardly, Tama was a little shaken, for they had almost lost the half God child that he had wanted so much, outwardly, he laughed with her and soon, they were sitting by his fireside, the baby feeding at his mother’s breast…

While doing so, Tama told Taranga that because it was a Half God child, he should bring it up, he wanted to study it, to find out if there were other differences as well as being fairer, and with blue ‘sky’ eyes - the expert made it sound sensible to her, a likelihood that they might be able to learn from the phenomenon, he also made it sound complimentary, that having a child of a God and a Royal Princess, would have to be beneficial to their people (not realizing at the time that one day the half God’s inquiring mind would prove to be extraordinarily beneficial to his people). So, it was not an upset girl who returned to the village without her baby, and she was required to come for feeding, so she would still be spending a lot of time with her child regularly…

She still felt a little dismayed though, but more because the man she had hoped to marry before meeting Makea was more interested in her child than her…since a girl, she had always found him attractive, and she had thought that he felt likewise – she wondered why he couldn’t have her, and her son, live with him. She had no way of knowing that he did indeed love her, but felt too old for her; besides, he was the tribe’s teacher, and guide, even her father the Chief did as instructed by him, and his role in the tribe was more important to him than having a wife – which was not forbidden, he had simply devoted himself entirely to his duties – women found him attractive, so he did not need to live the life of a celibate, but he did not want to share his life with a woman, and he certainly was not going to use the Princess that way – she deserved to have a real commitment, and he could not promise her that…

Still, Taranga had mixed emotions when sitting alone in her little house, and wondered if she indeed should have gone with her husband after all – Makea was different, he excited her, and their short acquaintance had left her with incredible memories, like the way he had decided to serve her at the dinner organized to welcome him and his people, and they’d eaten from the same platter alone, away from the others, under the moon and stars – like the way they’d run up and down the mountain between their two shelters, to be with each other, giggling like little children - and how often they stopped to make love in a waterfall there – but she was wary of his companions, she felt as though the others thought that the natives were not good enough for them, good enough to party with, and mate with, but – it was as if they were amused with the natives instead of respecting them as intelligent beings capable of thoughts and feelings – and that night when the Gods had departed, it happened so suddenly, that she couldn’t be sure of what she’d witnessed – it had been a dark night, no moon at all, still, it seemed to her, that – their craft moved swiftly – so swiftly that she wondered if she’d imagined the sight – but – impossibly more than that, it was as if their ship – did not go across the water, but above it – she shook her head, for the zillionth time since witnessing the departure, surely not – her eyes were full of tears and she didn’t see what happened exactly, that’s all…or was it??? But that’s also, when she suspected that they really might be Gods, as Tama had told them – because beforehand, she had seen them argue, had seen the youngest ones fight, had seen them injure themselves, and bleed – she shrugged and supposed that the term God only meant superior, after all, nothing more – and she was not certain, but she suspected that they certainly had a superior ship…

She did miss Makea though, and feeling lonely without her son and husband, Taranga decided to visit her mother – the woman had always managed to reassure her in the past – but this time, the older woman scolded her, told her that no matter what Tama or her father had planned, she, should have gone with her husband…

“But…” Taranga shook her head, “we…you, dad and I, would have been separated, possibly forever…?!?”

“Wives should be with their husbands! You have grown up Taranga, you don’t need your parents anymore, you need your husband!”

“You would have been happy never to see me again? Or your grandson?”

“Of course not! But that’s life daughter, your father found me while travelling our neighboring islands, and I came with him to this, his home – I have never seen my parents, ever since…”

Taranga was surprised. She had not known that. “Oh, mother…”

Kiri, her mother, softened. “I…it’s my fault, I should have told you that’s what wives do…no-one told me, it’s something that I presumed everyone just knows…when we marry, wives become their husband’s feminine helper and partner in life…we take so many things in life for granted, just presume that everyone is aware of basic knowledge and obvious understandings of life…I should have informed you my daughter, it’s my fault…”

Taranga put her arms around her mother. “No, it’s not…I do know all that. But…father is one of us, and you two have the perfect partnership. We don’t know anything about Makea, and his people – they’re different, and I admit, Makea treated me well, respected me, loved me, if it was just him, I would have gone…but mother, my instincts were warning me not to go with…them…”

Her mother nodded in understanding. Taranga had followed her instincts, and sighing, Kiri drew her daughter close. “Alright, then…”

And in seeking her mother out for reassurance, but who had scolded her instead, Taranga had unwittingly also convinced herself, that she had indeed, made the right decision…

“You never know,” continued the mother, “Makea might return…?!?”

Taranga nodded, but her instincts also informed her, that she would never see his lovely soft ‘sky’ eyes again…

****** ****** ******

Taranga had a new man in her life. Inia, one of the warriors who had sat in her circle. After having been through the circle routine once, future relationships no longer required that formality, just an agreement between the pair, and the father of the bride, and Chief, which in Taranga’s case her father was both, and he was very proud of his new son in law. At first, they’d courted in secret, but secrets did not last long in small villages, and everyone was glad to see their pretty Princess smiling happily again.

Maui was barely weaned when his mother was pregnant again. In fact, she had two more sons seemingly one after the other. She was quickly huge with these pregnancies also (Maui had been and still was a small baby) and she had difficulty waddling over to Tama’s clifftop, so to Tama’s delight, the half God was mostly his alone, to teach, and bring up, and if at first the toddler would eagerly watch the pathway to the village for his mother, her prolonged absences ensured that the half God child bonded with the Tohunga.

The curious toddler would regularly wander towards the village though; however, a little apprehensive of the unknown, although Tama had told him all about it, and how it was their tribe, their people who lived there; still, he kept himself hidden and watched from behind trees and bushes. He watched children running around and playing with each other, but even at his young age, he noticed that he was different, none of the others were fair like him, and his instincts of the possibility of being treated differently, perhaps even disliked, kept him from actually venturing down to the village. Tama had told him that he looked like his real father, who was a God, but at that age the youngster had no idea what a God was, except that like him, his father had been fairer than the other people…

One day Tama accompanied him, sat with him, and watched – Tama was an expert at watching without being noticed, and it seemed, the Half God boy was too – the Tohunga was glad, for if the child did make friends in the village, and spent time with his mother, he may prefer to live there with them, which meant that Tama would not be able to observe the child of a different race. While watching, Tama did point out the Chief, the child’s mortal grandfather, and the Princess, the child’s mother, and the child did watch her with some interest and possibly some recognition, but when Tama asked if the boy would like to meet them, he shook his head – Tama was pleased, the boy was used to living on the cliffs with his foster father, and was not curious or confident enough to want to be with his mother and tribe. He could have insisted, but Tama was afraid that the boy then, might not want to return to him, and the Tohunga was not eager to be separated from the half God child, just yet – nor did he want to force the boy and told himself that over the years, Maui and the people were bound to meet each other, after all, they did not live on the other side of the island, they only lived a short walk away – and although Tama could teach him some defense and fighting skills (attacks and wars have clashed between islands and tribes forever), when approaching puberty, Maui should then also join the warrior training and exercises. But for now, the child of another race, which Tama had convinced the people were Gods, and they were, in the sense that they had a superior ship, superior tools, made out of unknown and therefore superior materials, was his protégé…

Within only a few years, Tama noticed how clever the child was – he only ever needed to be told something once, shown how to do something once, and the boy instantly remembered everything he was told and shown. When Tama was younger, he was the villager’s main teacher, he had taught the other teachers who now instructed the younger generation, and he couldn’t remember a student as competent as Maui – but that might be because the others had friends and wanted to play instead, while the boy who lived with only his foster father, naturally showed an interest in everything that Tama knew and did, and it seemed to Tama, that the boy was eager to know everything, instead of playing, as if learning, to the child, was a game, and one that he enjoyed…

And so that was how life for Maui was for a few years, until at the age of puberty, a messenger came to Tama, saying Taranga was not well, and nothing that the other healers tried, seemed to help…

Tama immediately grabbed his bag of medicinal plant remedies and concoctions, and rushed to the woman he loved but never married…

Upon opening her door though, revealing her husband kneeling and crying on one side of their bed mat, their boys in his arms, watching their mother; silently lying under a feather cover, he instantly knew what was happening – she had weakened after each child birth – and he also knew at the sight, that there was nothing that anyone, or any medicinal plants, could do, to help, this time – she was losing a baby that was attempting to be born prematurely, but she was also losing her own life, because of it – healthy women, bear their children away from the village, in the forest – Taranga had expected her child might attempt to be born too soon, but she hadn’t realized it would be this early – and even she knew, much too early…

“Fight Taranga,” her husband Inia pleaded as he took her hand, “don’t leave me…us…”

Taranga sat up, looked around the room, and like the birth of her first child, she thought, ‘I have to get out of here…’

She looked out the window, wind blew tree boughs around, and beyond them, she could see the sky – grey clouds gathering. “I have to get out…” the safety of the forest was only meters away - the baby inside her moved - she held her belly as if to prevent it from being born - “not yet,” she whispered, “not yet…” she bit her lip as another contraction rose deep inside her - like a stick from a fire slowly twisting and turning - closing her eyes tightly, holding her belly, she waited until the pain started easing - she opened her eyes, she could see and hear Makea nearby – calling her name – she laughed – then blinked uncertainly – it couldn’t be, but – “Makea,” she cried out, “Makea”…

So were her parents, they were standing at the end of the bed, Tama was squatting at her right, Inia and their sons were sitting at her left, and a handsome, fair skinned, blue eyed youth stood in her doorway, standing in a sunbeam that seemed accentuated by the dark room - a ray of sun shone on him through the gathering clouds – not Makea – this Makea look-alike had no little beard, and was wearing a native loin cloth - her first-born son, had finally come to visit her…

She reached her arms out to him, and he went to her, sat beside her, and let her draw him to her, cuddle him – she closed her eyes and sighed happily, whispered to Maui, and with a smile on her face, never opened them again…

****** ****** ******

Tama was surprised when Maui followed him back to the clifftop – he knew that Inia asked him to live with him and Maui’s brothers – he knew that during the funeral proceedings a boy about the same age as Maui, Kupe, befriended the half-God youth and as such, other children also, were nice to the unusual, strange boy – probably encouraged to do so by their parents, at this sad time…

“It was nice of you to go and be with your mother before she died,” Tama said later, while he was putting some food together for them both. “I know it must have been difficult for you to enter the village at last…”

Maui did not respond, just started helping prepare the food.

When they sat to eat, Tama continued, “you can live with Inia and your brothers, please do not feel obliged to stay with me, now that you’ve met some of the villagers…”

Maui shook his head and kept eating.

“I have educated you, and you are old enough to start training with the warriors – wouldn’t you prefer to live with our people now?”

Maui surprised him with his answer. “I will train with the warriors if I must, but like you, I don’t want to live with our people either…”

As always, Tama did not show any emotion and was able to keep a straight face. He was happy that he still had the foster son that he wanted to continue observing, to find if there were any differences other than appearance, that he might be able to learn from, for the benefit of their own race. He went out to collect some firewood and only then, in the forest alone, did he allow the tears to flow. Sad tears for the only woman he had ever loved but refused to share his life with, and happy tears for her son who he loved as his own child. The child of a pretty Princess, a man of another race, and his, and he whispered to himself, “our child – Taranga’s, Makea’s, and mine…our child…”

****** ****** ******

Maui was slightly smaller than the other boys of the same age who commenced serious warrior training (I say serious because everyone, men women and children, are taught some basic self-defense techniques) however, after training with an expert his whole life, he was better than the other newcomers – in fact, he was swifter, and stronger than a lot who had been attending group training for some time, and even better than some of the trainers. It was presumed that a son of a God would be superior, and accepted as such, instead of being envied by the other fighters and it wasn’t long before he himself, was asked to help train some of the other, younger warriors.

Kupe started training at the same time, he was larger than those of their age, not as good a fighter as Maui, or the other newcomers either, and after a couple of training sessions, asked Maui to give him some extra tuition and share some knowledge of his domain – Kupe was the son of a fisherman, he even had his own little boat, and Maui agreed, if Kupe could teach him to fish, and share some knowledge of his domain, which was the start of a lifelong friendship between them.

Tama laughed when Maui told him that Kupe was going to teach him to fish, for Tama had already taught Maui how to read the signs where the fish and shellfish would be, how when the tide went out, search for the popping bubbles in the wet sand for shellfish, and when the tide came in, watch for the darkest waves, opposed to light reflective ones that can be seen through, and holding a basket in it as it cascaded and broke over him and his basket and onto the beach, the basket would be full of fish - in fact Maui would bring home a basket full of seafood, from just at the bottom of their cliff, while fighting off seagulls at the same time, birds that tried taking some of the fresh food from the basket as he climbed back up to his home. When Tama asked Maui why he asked Kupe to teach him, the boy replied that Kupe had asked for fighting tuition, and thought it only fair that Kupe believed that he in turn, was teaching Maui something…Tama didn’t know whether he should feel proud or ashamed of his foster son, proud at the boy’s astute mind, or ashamed of the boy’s deceit, until Maui added, “he has a boat,” and they both laughed. But Tama was happy, for the independent loner had a friend, at last. But he didn’t know the real reason that Maui wanted to learn about boating, and it wasn’t for the ‘deep-sea’ fishing expertise, Maui had decided that one day, when he was an adult, he was going to look for the father who had left him…

But he would have a few more adventures, which he became famous for, before finally, being able to do so…

Sometimes after warrior training, they trained on a flat plateau foothill at the base of the mountain, rather than returning home, he was often in the mood to wander awhile. And if Kupe was not expected back to help his family with chores, he would accompany his unusual friend.

One day while doing this, Maui decided to go higher up the mountainside and effortlessly didn’t stop, despite Kupe’s gasping for breath, until they were on a higher, but much smaller plateau. He fingered the remains of a shelter that was so overgrown with foliage that if one did not know it was there, one could quite easily walk right past it. He moved into the dark shadows, into another room, and on into another.

“Wow!’ Kupe exclaimed, still trying to breathe properly, “for something that is quite hidden from the outside, this is quite a large building…”

Maui did not answer, he quietly walked into other rooms until finally, there were no more passages or rooms to explore. When Kupe caught up with his friend, he found Maui leaning against a window – and when he joined him and also looked out, he gasped. “That’s our…village down there!?!”

Maui just nodded.

“No wonder,” Kupe gasped, “father said that the Gods always seemed to know what we were doing, what we were up to – the villagers thought…” he stopped, not sure if he should go on so in front of the son of one of them.

An amused dimple flickered around Maui’s mouth. “That they were all-knowing…Gods?”

Kupe grinned and placed his dark arm next to Maui’s fair one. “Of course you are. I just didn’t think that they’d need…to spy on us…”

Maui took his hand and led his friend out of the shelter and started climbing a huge tree. Kupe pulled his hand free of Maui’s and did not follow him.

“Come on,” Maui coaxed his reluctant friend to follow.

Kupe started up the trunk, but when Maui chose to crawl out on a branch that hung over the side of the mountain, Kupe stopped. “Aren’t you afraid Maui?”

“Afraid?!?” Obviously, Maui had no concept of the word, and had done this many times before.

Kupe wanted to close his eyes and refused to go out on the overhanging limb with his friend.

Maui stood up and started jumping on the overhanging branch. “It’s not going to break, come on…”

“No!”

Maui shrugged. “OK, but look towards the village, this area, is also a good observation point…”

“They spied on us,” Kupe sounded as though he was accusing his friend’s God-like people of being covertly underhanded.

Maui decided he’d better not mention how he’d been spying on the village in the trees surrounding the place his whole life. “Or, kept guard…”

That seemed to put Kupe in a better frame of mind. “Of course…” but he didn’t add, ‘then why didn’t they stay? What made them think that the mortals no longer needed their protection?’

As if Maui had read his mind, he added, “perhaps they knew that the mortals no longer needed protection?!?”

As they started on their way back down the mountain, Kupe chided his friend. “Still, going out on that branch like that was a stupid, dangerous thing to do!”

Maui cleared his throat. “Not at all, that’s still a young, healthy tree, not an old dried up, rotting one…”

Kupe gulped, and watched his friend lithely descend the mountain before him. He hadn’t meant that the tree was old and dry, and the branch might break, he’d meant that Maui might slip off. That thought had obviously never occurred to his friend. ‘Yea,’ Kupe thought to himself, ‘you really are a son of a God-dammed God…’

After the next training session, Kupe asked Maui, “what shall we do today?”

Maui grinned. “I have something even more interesting to show you. But it takes a bit longer to get there, are your parents expecting you to return home soon?”

“Nah, I’ve done all my chores…”

Maui started up the main mountain path again, but only about a quarter of the way up towards the God’s now derelict old shelter, he took off around the mountainside instead of continuing upwards. There were no man-made pathways, not even any ancient derelict ones, that Kupe could see; still, at a fast pace, Maui jumped over rocks and deftly avoided sliding down crevices until Kupe quite a way behind him, had to call out, “wait…I’m not used to running all over the mountain, like you are…”

Maui slowed his pace, still, only a few paces further, Kupe slipped and Maui grabbed his arm – Kupe was quite large and heavy, and gulped as his smaller friend seemingly without any effort and with only one arm lifted him up and placed him onto a safer part of the ground, then without a word, carried on as if nothing untoward had happened…and Kupe thought to himself, ’we villagers doubted you people were Gods, as Tama had told us, but now I know, you really are…’

And again, as if having read his friend’s mind Maui said as they continued their journey, “I have been carrying heavy water-logged baskets of food with one hand while climbing volatile cliffs and fighting determined birds off with my other hand my whole life,” he grinned at his hefty friend, “of course I’m used to lifting heavy loads…”

“Not funny!”

The terrain grew less dense as Maui whispered, “we’re nearly there…”

A cold wind seemed to whip up suddenly also, and Kupe wished he’d worn more clothing. “Why are we whispering?”

Maui didn’t answer, just plunged on, albeit bent over, as if he didn’t want to be seen – and Kupe copied his actions, as he followed behind his strange friend.

Then Maui slowed, and laid belly down in some long grass, and with lizard-like movements, moved towards the edge of a cliff.

Kupe did the same. And as he crawled among the grasses, be heard voices, and smelled cooking aromas – he slowed, and inched up next to his friend. Maui put a finger to his lips to ensure Kupe keep quiet as they lifted their heads only high enough to peer over the edge – this part of the island was rocky – rock formations of all shapes and sizes were on the edge of the sea, and in the sea also, and only had minuscule sandy beaches when the tide was low – still, boats were tied to the rocks and ofttimes justled around as waves mercilessly hit at them, others with shelters were hanging on some of the inland facing rock formations which wasn’t really giving them much shelter from the raging ocean, and even more surprisingly, people seemed unnerved by their hostile terrain as they managed to sit around cooking fires that had to be sheltered from the wind and water as much as possible by small upturned canoes – they could not make the popular underground oven pits in sheer rock…

Kupe looked at his friend with raised eyebrows, Maui just grinned back at him. They crawled away from the scene and as soon as they believed they were able to without being noticed, stood and ran – Kupe amazed himself when he realized that he was keeping up with Maui – it took a bit of a shock to get rid of any fears he had had of the precarious terrain earlier and as soon as they were out of earshot, they slowed enough to talk with each other.

“What…what have we just seen?” Kupe asked his friend, “only people who are hiding for some reason would live in such conditions temporarily, but it looks like they’ve been there for a while; and we’re the only tribe living on this island…” he gasped, “or so we thought?!?”

Maui grinned, pleased that he had finally been able to share this secret of his. “Yes, obviously they’ve been there for some time, I have been spying on them my whole life…”

“Your whole life?!?”

Maui nodded, as they walked, “it looks volatile during the daytime, but it’s quite pretty at night, when all their little lights are on in their hanging boat shelters…”

Kupe gasped. “You’ve been there at night!?!”

Maui just nodded.

Kupe continued. “Tama…let’s you?”

Maui just looked at Kupe as if the thought had never occurred to him, or to Tama…

“I suppose Tama knows that he doesn’t have to worry about a child of a God…”

Maui still did not reply, so Kupe continued, “and I suppose your sky eyes see just as well at night as they do during the day?”

This time Maui did reply, “don’t be silly…”

“They do!”

“They don’t!”

“Did you tell Tama about those people?”

“No, Tama told me, about them…”

“Why hasn’t he told the tribe?”

“The Chief…my grandfather knows too. He put them there!”

“What?”

“Well; not really. There was a dispute between him and his twin brother, about who should be the ruler. Tama suggested they fight, the winner stays as the ruler, the loser and his followers had to leave…sometime later, Tama noticed that the losers didn’t go too far away, they hid in those rocks, but because it was Muri’s brother, the Chief’s heart softened, and told Tama to tell them that so long as they stay there, and do not venture any further on the island, they could – the villagers believe they left - Muri and Tama both thought that they’d eventually leave to live on another island, in better conditions, but they didn’t…”

“Just in case Muri dies without an heir…”

“Yup…”

“And you’re the heir…”

“Yup…”

“That’s why we hid ourselves instead of waving ‘hello’…”

“Yup…”

“They might try to kill you…”

“Yup…”

“Say something more than just ‘yup’!”

But Maui quickened his pace, putting some space between himself and his friend. He could not tell him, or anyone for that matter, that he was not interested in ruling the place, that he had plans of his own, that as soon as he was able, he was going to leave. And when they neared their own home, he reminded Kupe, “I have shown you, as agreed, some things about my mountain domain. Now I think it’s time you start showing me some things about your sea domain. How about tomorrow?”

And this time, it was Kupe who answered, “Yup…”

Kupe had imagined their first day out on his boat would be just a couple of kids having fun, but Maui took it seriously and kept pestering him with questions. “We’ve only just started,” he shook his head, “relax and enjoy the ride…”

Maui tried, he really did, but he kept thinking of things he’d imagined to be important, and the questions got sillier, like, “what do we do if we lose a paddle?” Or “what do we do if the sail rips?” Until Kupe had had enough and pushed him out of the boat. Maui came up spluttering and they both giggled hysterically until Maui reached a hand up for Kupe to help him back into the boat and Maui pulled Kupe into the water as well…

For a moment they splashed each other like a couple of children, until Kupe noticed the boat sailing away from them and this time, he had a question for Maui. “How do we tell my father that we lost my boat?”

But having spent his life swimming with Tama at the bottom of their cliff, Maui was a strong swimmer and within a moment, he was holding the boat with one arm and indicating with his other, for Kupe to climb in.

But when they were both sitting back in the boat, after almost losing it, now Kupe was in a serious mood, so Maui silently studied the net and reed rod with a burned/blackened reed rope and container of snails without tuition, and within moments, had the bottom of the boat full of fish.

Kupe groaned. “Do you have to be good at everything?”

“I had to do something while you were sulking,” Maui even turned the boat around to sail back home, “this should feed the whole tribe…”

Kupe just groaned.

As they neared their island, Maui noticed Tama standing up on the cliff, and they waved to each other. As Maui expertly steered the boat towards the entrance to the river to continue to the village wharf, Maui noticed what seemed like the whole tribe, who had heard that Kupe had taken the Half God fishing with him, was waiting on the pier to welcome the boys home.

So with a “Tama needs me,” Maui dived into the water, swam to the cliffs, and climbed up to his home. He would train with the warriors obediently as required, and was getting used to having a friend, but after growing up away from the village, if he could avoid crowds, he did…

As the people dispersed, there was one waiting on the pier that was visibly upset. Kupe’s sister Terita, who had glimpsed the handsome Maui when visiting his dying mother, knew that her brother was his best friend, and had put on her prettiest dress, hoping to catch the attention of the half God…

Chapter Two

The Young Man

As a curious child, Maui had spent most of his life exploring the whole island and knew more about it than anyone else. He’d been to the top of the mountain, heard it rumble, watch it spurt geysers, felt it quiver and quake – he knew every ridge, and every slope, and would spend long periods in the vicinity of Makea’s shelter, in case his real father returned…

Somewhere in the back of his mind he had a feeling that he’d never meet his father, but he could not help but hope – sometimes on the highest peaks he’d spend hours at night watching the seas, with only the night birds for company – the hooting of the owls made him feel reassured that he was not the only being, that loved to sit and watch the world in the darkness – and when they’d fly, he’d run, and jump, imagining that he too, was flying through the trees, under the stars.

Tama had told him that his father came from a star and had returned to it. But Kupe told him that the villagers weren’t so sure about that. The villagers had told Makea to leave without his child, and he had. Surely a God would have demanded that they give his child to him. Sometimes even Maui wondered about his half God status – so he was a little smaller than the other boys of his age. So his skin and hair was fairer and his eyes were blue. He had seen a white owl, when most were brown – in fact, as if they knew that they were both different, Tama, always hiding and observing, noticed when Maui ran around the mountain at night, the white owl often flew around with him as well – at first Tama thought it just a coincidence, but soon realized that the bird was following Maui, as if they were friends, but when Tama asked if Maui had tamed an owl, Maui had just laughed and replied, “no, we just enjoy running around together…”

It was on such an occasion, that he, and the owl, startled a girl – Maui didn’t know who was the most surprised, the girl, or him – it was late, it was quiet in the village, the villagers were sleeping – only he and Tama didn’t seem to need as much sleep as everyone else did. Unbeknownst to her, she was sitting near Makea’s old shelter, crying.

“I thought everyone was asleep,” she blinked up at him uncertainly, “I just needed to spend some time alone, to think…and I didn’t realize how far I’d wandered…”

“You’re a long way from your home. If you’d walked just a few more feet, you would have stumbled into my father’s home…”

“Really?”

Maui pulled back overgrown plants to reveal the opening to a shelter, the door long fallen to the ground.

Tears forgotten, the curious girl stood and moved to what was once a home of some Gods. She had to pass Maui to do so. She looked up into his face to ask if she could take a look, but this close to the handsome young man, her voice failed her. For a moment, they just stared at each other. Apart from his mother, he had never been this close to a female before. And he liked what he saw. In only the light of the moon, he liked the way she peered up at him through long eyelashes, he liked the perky little nose, and pouty, full lips – and she, liked the way that even in the dark, or maybe because of it, the blue of his eyes seemed to shine, and with the moon above them, his hair seemed to glow golden, so did his skin, so close, so very close…she put a hand out as if to touch him, as if she had to find out if he was real, but hesitated – she supposed that mortals would not be allowed to touch a God, when he took her hand in his. She thought he was being romantic, but instead he said, “I’d better make sure you get home safely, wandering around the mountain in the daytime can be perilous, let alone at night…”

She swallowed awkwardly. “But I…I don’t want to go home…”

“Your parents would be worrying about you…”

“They’re the ones…” she blurted, then stopped.

But now Maui was unsure. “What?”

“Nothing!” She turned from him. “You’re right, I’d better go back…”

Halfway down the mountain, she slipped, and he caught her. For a moment, they just looked at each other under the moonlight.

“What’s your name?” He managed to ask her.

“Amira…”

“I’m…”

But Amira interrupted him. “Everyone knows who you are, Maui…”

He swallowed. He hardly knew any of them. Just Tama, Kupe and his grandfather. He didn’t even know his own brothers, or the warriors he trained with. “What do they…say about me?”

“You’re strong and clever. But of course you are. You’re the son of a God…”

“They don’t like me though, do they?”

“Well…we know you’re strong and clever, but…we don’t know you, Maui…”

Just then, as if in agreement, the white bird swooped over him. Amira jumped in fright and slipped again. And Maui caught her again. The superstitious girl gasped. “That’s a sign that you really are a child of a God…”

Maui shook his head. “Nah, that’s just a friend of mine…”

She giggled. He grinned. He was glad to see her laugh and said so. But that made her frown again.

“Let’s sit and rest a moment,” Maui suggested, “we’ve still got quite a hike to go, yet…”

They did.

“Now,” Maui continued, “tell me why you were crying…”

She blinked in surprise. She hadn’t realized that he had noticed the tears in the dark. Then she sighed. “My parents say it’s time that I marry…”

Maui knew that he was clever. But he couldn’t understand why she was upset. He had presumed that it was normal, that people grow up and marry and bear and bring up the next generation. He hadn’t realized that some did not want to. Except for him. He had plans to search for his father. But now he was sitting next to a girl who was also reluctant to marry.

She noticed his rather stunned expression. “I did want to, but the man that I wanted to marry sat in my friend’s circle, and she picked him!”

“Oh!” Now Maui felt stunned. And speechless. Mortals can be devious. The guy she loved let her think that he returned her affection while hoping for another. And the friend she thought she had, did not care about hurting her, when it came to choosing between a lifelong friend or the man her friend loved. No wonder he preferred to stay away from people and their complexities…

“And I…I’m not interested in anyone else,” she turned her eyes to his, fluttered her eyelashes, “well I wasn’t, until…until now…”

How he wanted to take her in his arms. But he had other plans, for his life. “Amira, I…I…”

She interrupted him. “I know! I’m not good enough!” She stood. “But Maui, there are no other half Gods here for you to choose from!” And she started walking the rest of the way down the mountain on her own. He let her…

Still, he found himself spying on the village more than he ever had before. And although he’d only seen her at night, he recognized her among all the others, among all the other young women – like him, she was tinier than the other women – most men preferred fat females – what started as a status symbol, if a person was moving too much ‘burning the weight’, they must be workers – so generally, the people had learned to eat much more than they needed, to appear to be more noble than they were, and now they were so used to being and seeing fat, in their eyes, it had become beautiful, and it was obvious, that generally, she was not thought of as pretty – but he had run around their island his whole life, up and down the mountain, bringing heavy baskets of seafood up the cliffs, and warrior training, and perhaps because he did not live in the community, in his eyes, she was perfect…

One day, when fishing with Kupe in his boat, Kupe was attempting to start a conversation, talking about what was and had been happening in the village, but thinking of the lovely Amira, Maui hardly heard a word his friend said, until he informed Maui of her pending ‘wedding circle’. A slight frown was the only indication that he had heard Kupe at all. He waited for Kupe to react, but he had not noticed, and continued with other news – Maui was pleased, that he had learned to be as unreactive and unreadable to others and incidents just like Tama, but he was also displeased – he didn’t like the idea of Amira being with another, his heart raced just thinking of their accidental meeting on the mountain. ‘I’ll get over it,’ he told himself, he had a lifelong goal, as far back as he could remember, he was determined to go after his real father – still, later, while having supper with his foster father, the intuitive Tama asked Maui what was wrong with him.

Maui just shook his head. “Nothing!” But his answer was too quick. Tama surprised him. “You like her, don’t you?”

Maui groaned. He should have known. Tama always knew everything that happened on their island. “Not enough!” Even Maui knew that sounded calculatingly cold. “Yes, I like her. But like you, who did not marry the woman you loved, my mother, I also, can’t…get married!”

Tama swallowed the food he had been chewing, then leaned closer to his foster son. “Biggest mistake of my life…”

Maui blinked at the man he idolized. Swallowed his food as if he was about to reply, but just stood up, and left – running around his mountain always made him feel better and he hoped that it would this time, as well…it did. Or so he thought, at the time…

Maui made a large hammock and had it swinging between two trees not far from Makea’s old shelter. He liked the spot. His father had been clever. From that vicinity, he could observe the village, Tama’s little tent on the clifftops, the beach nearest their village, the pier with the boats, the foothill where the warriors trained, and because he wasn’t right on the very top of the mountain, not even a quarter of the way up, if he ran, and he was a fast runner, he could be at the village within minutes.

So it was, that one evening, soon after supper with Tama, while swaying on his hammock, he heard the Conche shell being used to call the tribe together for a special occasion. At first, Maui ignored it, he never attended their events, then he sat up on his hammock. A sweat broke out on his forehead. He, through Tama, or Kupe, knew of no upcoming socials or meetings happening, except for, he gasped, Amira’s wedding…

He jumped out of the hammock and started towards the old pathway down to the village, then he stopped. He had to reach out to a tree trunk to steady himself. “I can’t…” he actually said out loud, and repeated, “I can’t…” He started descending down the path, then stopped again. He let himself slump down to the ground. He held his hands over his ears to try to block out the sound of the Conche call.

It stopped. He could still make it, but he returned to the hammock, and placing his bottom in the middle of it, pulled his legs up – they felt heavy – it was an effort to get into the hammock this time, when he usually easily slid into it. Then the music wafted up from below. Drums and lilting pipes – he should be down there – but he clung to his hammock – it was getting dark – a star twinkled above him – ‘run Maui, run’, he kept telling himself. He pulled the sides of his hammock around him, cocooned himself as if to wrap himself from going. The music went on for sometime – it would stop, when she stopped dancing – obviously, she was prolonging her routine, giving him time to join her circle. He covered his ears again but the sudden letting go from holding the hammock so tightly made it suddenly twist and he toppled to the ground – he imagined he could feel the drums pounding through the earth up to him – but it was his heart that was thumping – he took deep breaths, trying to calm his heaving chest. It seemed to take forever. Finally, he was lying on his back, facing the darkening sky – and his darkening mood – the music finally stopped – normal breathing finally returned – he ran to the pathway again, but he knew that it was too late – he leaned against the same tree trunk that he’d leant against earlier, then with a groan, sunk to the ground…

He went through his chores with Tama in silence. Now he understood why Tama was almost always silent – speaking could not change their decisions and there was no point in reprimanding each other or themselves about them either.

Even Kupe, when next they went out on his boat, noticed the change in his friend. Maui had always been a quiet sort, but never distracted.

Kupe imagined he had some good news that might put a smile on his friend’s face. He cleared his throat. “I got…” he grinned, “I got married…”

Maui had been about to throw the net out. He froze.

Kupe thought his friend hadn’t heard him. He started to repeat himself. “Maui, I…” but stopped when Maui turned to face him, clenching and unclenching his fists.

“Sorry Maui,” Kupe thought his friend was upset because his best mate had not informed him that he was considering taking a wife, “I hadn’t planned it, it was an impromptu decision. Amira was dancing, she looked so lovely, and I…I joined her circle. I never dreamed she’d…I didn’t think she’d pick me; she’d never even noticed me before…”

Maui slumped down in the boat, no longer in the mood for fishing. Everyone knew that Kupe and Maui were friends. To spite Maui, she had picked Kupe. “I thought…I thought you liked fat girls?!?”

“She’s young, fat will come, when we start having children…”

Maui thought of his own mother. After a few pregnancies, she had never put on any weight. “What if she doesn’t?”

Kupe frowned. “There’s more to relationships than just looks, I love her. I kept the way I felt a secret because she was in love with someone else, everyone thought that they’d get married, but…he married her best friend instead…”

Maui had been avoiding looking at Kupe. He had been looking at the bottom of the boat. When he looked up at his friend, his eyes were cold. “Best friend…”

Kupe had no idea that Maui was angry with him. “Yea…”

Maui closed his eyes. He was trying to calm himself. It was not Kupe’s fault the girl used the poor guy for revenge. He should be feeling sorry for his friend, instead of wanting to punch him to a pulp. The sun felt warm on his face. He took a deep breath, then looked at his friend. Still, he couldn’t smile at him, when he said, “congratulations Kupe, I hope she…” he swallowed but his voice came out like he barely whispered, “I hope she makes you happy…”

But somehow, the mood in the boat was not happy. They sailed back without any fish. Since Maui had joined Kupe’s fishing trips, they’d always returned with a boat full of fish, before.

And as they entered their river, both Kupe’s sister Terita, and his new wife Amira, were waiting on the pier for them. Tama was not waving from the top of his cliff, this time. Still, Maui quietly said before diving out of the boat, “Tama needs me…”

Up on the clifftop, Maui took his anger out on his foster father. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Tama had been relaxing next to the fire, enjoying both the warmth of it, and the cool late afternoon breeze at the same time. “Tell you what?”

“You know everything that goes on around here! Do you deny you knew Amira chose Kupe?”

Tama indicated Maui should join him by the fire. But Maui’s chest was heaving, and his hands were clenching and unclenching again. He stood his ground. “Do you?”

Tama sighed. “You…made your choice Maui, now live with it…”

Maui went in the tent, grabbed his blanket, then made for his hammock.

But he could not sleep. He lay in the hammock watching the sky when one star appeared. And by the time the sky was black and full of stars, Maui was still wide awake. “Where are you father? Are you really up there, like Tama says you are? Are you watching me? Why did you leave me here? Why did you leave me?”

He got out of his hammock and started to run – he did not care where he ran, he just wanted to run, it was a moonless night, and he often slipped and skidded – still, he did not lose his balance – for some of the time he was aware that the white bird had joined him, flew above him, behind him, in front of him, beside him, but suddenly stopped, landed in a tree, as if even the bird knew that Maui was in a foul mood, and did not want company.

Maui hadn’t concentrated on where he went, he just knew that he couldn’t sit, or lie down, or sleep, or keep still – he had never felt such a rage burning inside him before – not when his mother stopped coming to feed him, not when Tama told him about his real father, not when his mother died, now, he wanted to lash out at someone, or something, anyone, anything, he wanted to run until there was nowhere left to run and that’s exactly what happened – jumping, and leaping crevices as he ran in a rage, suddenly, he noticed that he was at the edge just in time and stopped within inches of the cliffs that he’d always crept and crawled up to before – the rocky cliffs of the exiled people that had a reason to kill him – and unfortunately, although it was a dark night, and most would be sleeping, one of these people was not, and noticed the person above. Maui hoped that he wouldn’t be recognized in the dark. For a moment, they just stared at each other. From the soft lights of the shelters, he noticed that it was a female. The most beautiful female face that he had ever seen, with the longest hair he’d ever seen, like a cloak, flowing all around her. But she shifted, in the darkness, all Maui saw was a shadowy movement – she moved and turned her face from him but when she looked back, it wasn’t the same face that looked back at him, it was still a beautiful woman, but a white skinned, white haired one, the difference illuminated in the darkness – Maui gasped, then fainted, and fell over the edge…

Shadowy lights moved around him – he could hear voices but apart from the ‘still alive’ or ‘he’ll be alright’ he could not understand what they were saying as he drifted in and out of consciousness. Sometimes it was daylight, sometimes it was dark until eventually, he was aware that someone was trying to feed him, put food in his mouth. He shook his head. He wasn’t hungry.

“But you must eat,” someone was holding him, holding his head up, while another encouraged him to eat. He managed to eat something, before unconsciousness took over again.

Then suddenly, he was awake – he was in one of those hanging boat-like shelters that he’d admired from his peeking over the cliff edge so many times before.

“Maui,” someone nearby spoke, “you’re awake…”

“You fell,” said another, “you’re lucky, the tide was in, and it broke your fall, otherwise,” that person stopped.

“I could have been killed...”

“Yes. But you almost drowned. In the darkness, it took us awhile to find you…”

Maui tried to get up. “Thank you, but I’d better be going…”

But the two, plump middle-aged women, held him. “The healer’s coming to see you, now that you’re awake, to make sure that you’re well enough to leave…”

“No, I’m fine,” Maui started to rise again, “my father will be worried…”

He made for a gap in the tent and looked out. He gasped. In the daylight he could see where he had fallen, there was a vine twisted rope ladder hanging there. Maui grinned. “Instead of dramatically falling into your place, I could have just climbed down…”

They all laughed. Similar ladders were all over the place, some even horizontally strung up between shelters, with rope handrails. Maui was impressed. When the other villagers saw him appear from the shelter that he was in, and noticed that he seemed to be alright, they cheered. Maui grinned and waved to them all. He sighed. All this time he’d been watching but hiding from what he thought were dangerous people, particularly where he was concerned, but they really seemed to like him. As he made is way towards the ladder to where he’d fallen from, he noticed a cave in the side of the cliff, and a man came out of it. He wasn’t young, but he looked strong and fit and had an ‘all-knowing’ person of wisdom countenance. “I was just going to come to find out how you are Maui, I’m Kapua, this area’s Chief…”

Maui started up the ladder. “I’m fine, thank you for taking care of me, but I must return…”

“Yes, your people will be worrying about you…” then he leaned closer to the younger man, “but don’t lie on your belly up there anymore, you are welcome to come and visit us any time you wish…”

“You knew?”

“Of course,” Kapua grinned, “and now you know where the ropes are...”

As Maui commenced climbing higher, a seagull squealed past him, and flew towards the sea, and momentarily taking his sight from the climb to the sea, Maui noticed a boat coming in. In this area the sea is almost always choppy and crashes wildly into the rocky terrain – regardless, this boat was being expertly steered towards them. There seemed to be only one person in the boat. The strong undercurrents would have taken Maui and Kupe off course, yet this one person alone managed to keep his boat coming straight for them, for their precarious home and harbor. Impressed, Maui could not take his eyes from the sight. At one point, it appeared as though the boat was almost vertical, but the sailor leaned back, using his weight to bring it closer back into position. At another, a wave almost flipped the boat over and the sailor; likewise, jumping to a tiny canoe fastened on a side, used his weight to keep it afloat then onto another tiny canoe fastened on the other side, to balance it out. Finally, a crashing wave brought the little boat into the bay – that’s when Maui noticed the sailor was not a he, it was a she – wearing only a short loin cloth with a knife strapped to it. Slim but shapely. Hair slicked back, skin glistening from the water, and the most beautiful face – the face that he saw the last time that he was watching from above. The face that had seemingly changed into a pale face – Maui gasped – he must have imagined that, or will she change again? But she didn’t. She seemed to be able to manage her little boat in a wild sea all on her own. She swung a looped rope and deftly threw it over a rock and smoothly pulled the boat into place among the other boats, although they were all rocking around in the water. That’s also when he noticed that all the boats were built that way, with smaller canoes on the sides. Her’s did not even hit the others as she deftly slid her boat into place. After which the adept sailor jumped overboard. The water was not in low tide; still, as if oblivious to the waves crashing over her, she made sure that the boat was fastened tightly, and with the waves slowing her pace, she strongly swam through the remaining water towards Kapua. She grabbed hold of one of the horizontal vine ladders that were everywhere around the cliffs in this place, and used it to pull herself closer to Kapua and Maui.

Without words between her and her people, others swam to retrieve baskets of fish from the bottom of her boat.

“Our guest is awake,” she spoke to Kapua, then looked at Maui. “Are you hungry Maui?”

Maui could only nod in disbelief.

Soon after, groups of people were sitting on higher rocks, damp, both people and rocks, and sometimes were still periodically sprayed, yet they still somehow managed to barbecue and smoke the fish – although Maui had watched them from above, now that he was sharing a meal with them, it all seemed impossible to him, imagined even annoying, but they made their actions seem simple and normal, so used were they to living in these conditions. Oft-times when a spray suddenly reared and splashed them by surprise, they even laughed, and he found that he too, was laughing with them. Even the children seemed to know what to do, they were never strapped, or held onto tightly, they stayed close to the vines, seemed to know where the ropes were without looking for them, and whenever the odd high wave did suddenly appear, they calmly reached out and held onto one, just like the adults, and Maui did too…

He found out while listening to them that the remarkable sailing girl was called Mahuika. She stayed close to Kapua the whole time that he was there, so he presumed that she was married to the older man.

As the sun started setting, the sea started calming also, and after their meal, everyone was happy to relax and enjoy the rare, calm evening.

Maui though, for the second time that day, decided that he really should be heading off, thanked his host for his kind hospitality, and started for the vines that would help him up his cliff.

Kapua accompanied him to the bottom of the rope. “How’s my brother?”

“Muri’s just fine Kapua, just fine…”

Kapua cleared his throat. “I was jealous of him, when I was young…as an older man now,” he indicated his people with a hand, “I’ve learned, being in charge is not an enviable profession…”

“Would you like me to ask Muri if you and your people can return home?”

But Kapua quickly shook his head. “Nah…most of the older ones have died, since, and the younger ones don’t know of any other way to live,” he sighed, “we’ve learned to like our…crazy water world, and my granddaughter Mahuika, loves the challenges that living here provides…”

Maui blinked but hid how glad he was to hear that Mahuika was his granddaughter, and not his wife.

“Please come back and visit with us,” Kapua went on, “as often as you want…”

Maui looked over at the girl who was at that moment pulling herself up into one of the hanging sleeping shelters. “I will, thank you Kapua, I will…”

And so it came to pass, that although already an accomplished sailor, Mahuika taught Maui how to handle boats in the most impossible, wildest of conditions – and how to laugh about it – as though taming was fun, and not fearful – but there was something else, that the fearless water girl did, she also, while sailing with Maui, managed to tame the wild half God of the wild mountain…

CHAPTER THREE

THE MAN

The tide was out, it was a magnificent morning, sunny, the birds were singing, and a cool breeze whipped in from the ocean. Maui, among others, were cleaning their boats while they had a chance to, before the tide came back in. Kupe and his father had made one for him – ‘a gift’, they’d said, now that he was an accomplished sailor, he should own his own boat.

Unlike the others, who rushed and were returning to the village as soon as they could, he lovingly took his time over his very first possession, among a few loin cloths, cloaks a blanket and head-band that his grandmother had made for him, and the hammock that he had made for himself. Also, unlike the others, he did not have many other chores, except for teaching at warrior training, and taking seafood to Tama, which he neglected to do as often as he should, since the time that he angrily strode off soon after Kupe and Amira got married.

For a while Kupe and he weren’t as close since that happened, Kupe was mystified, and Maui was sullen, then seemingly indifferent. Kupe had even asked if Maui was feeling alright, Maui had simply nodded back – Kupe had further asked what was wrong, Maui had sighed and replied, “nothing…”

While tenderly taking care of his new boat, Maui thought back to that time.

“You’ve never been much of a talker,” Kupe had insisted, “but…we’ve had some fun times, haven’t we?”

Maui had just nodded again.

“Have I offended you in any way?” Kupe had persisted, “if I have, I didn’t mean to, what have I done Maui?”

“No, you have not offended me,” Maui whispered so softly, as if he had been speaking to himself.

But Kupe had heard every word, and whispered back, almost as if too embarrassed to speak, “is it because I got married? You and I…did you think…that we?!?”

Realization hit Maui. Theirs was a sensual race. Homosexuals had an important role in the community. Whenever the men were away at war or fishing and hunting birds, if the women and children were attacked in their absence, the men who preferred women’s crafts and work, were still stronger than the women and the warriors and fishermen worried less and could concentrate on their duties, when not at home. He couldn’t stop a grin from twitching around his mouth. Kupe noticed and within seconds, the two were laughing hysterically…

“Good morning Maui,” Amira interrupted his thoughts, she ran her hand over a part of his boat, “you look after your boat so tenderly…”

Maui inwardly groaned. He’d hardly ever visited the village, and since she and Kupe had married, never…he thought of Mahuika’s words while giving him lessons on her boat on the other side of the island, ‘the more you love your boat, the better she’ll respond to you…’ but bluntly replied to Amira, “what do you want?”

She moved closer to him, long eyelashes blinking up into his eyes, the hand that had stroked his boat now softly caressed his chest. “Why didn’t you join my circle, I know you liked me, that night we spent together on your mountain…”

He grabbed her hand and removed it from him. “You’re married Amira, to my friend…and not because you like him, but to spite me!” He turned from her, made sure his boat was fastened securely. He’d thought she’d return to the village. But she hadn’t. She was looking at him, breast heaving angrily. He softened. He went to take her into his arms. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! It’s not your fault. I should have turned up. I…I thought I was like Tama, not the marrying kind…I got mad at Tama too,” his voice softened, “but it wasn’t his fault either…I made that stupid, stupid decision…”

Tears rolled down her cheeks. With his thumbs, he wiped them away. He placed his forehead on her’s. His insides felt as though they were churning like the sea in Kapua’s rocky home. He felt like tumbling her into his boat. It was difficult, but he managed to pull away from her and with a heaving gasp, managed to say, “I’m so sorry…” and fled from her, before he did.

Both hadn’t noticed Kupe, who had been looking for his wife, saw her in Maui’s embrace, and had stopped approaching, in shock.

Now it was Kupe’s turn to be upset with his friend. But unlike Maui, he wasn’t going to sulk in silence, he chased after Maui, calling as he went. Maui had started ascending the mountain when he finally stopped, turned, and faced Kupe in silence.

Kupe stopped too. For a moment, they just glared at each other. Kupe had planned to – he wasn’t sure what he had planned to do, he’d just angrily run after him when realization hit, but what could Kupe actually do? Maui was slightly smaller than he was, but looking at the golden hair blowing in the breeze, the strange blue ‘sky’ eyes looking back at him without fear? Could he actually punch a half God? Could he even accuse him of anything? He stopped in his tracks and despairingly looked up the man that he thought was his best friend.

Maui’s first impulse was to continue walking. Turned away and took a couple of steps. But Kupe was his friend and deserved to know the truth. He sighed and looked back. “Before you two got married, one night, I found her crying and comforted her. That’s all, I promise you.”

“And I suppose again today, you found her crying, and you comforted her?!?”

Maui was going to nod, that should put an end to the problem, but he couldn’t lie to his friend. “OK,” he hesitated, “she was the first girl that I ever had any feelings for.” He moved closer to Kupe. “So punch me. Get it over with. I won’t fight back…”

Kupe did. To the surprise of them both, Maui went flying to the ground. He shook his head, and looked disbelievingly up at his friend. “Damn! That hurt…”

Kupe ran to Maui. He put a hand out to help him up again, Maui took it, and pulled him down to the ground where they continued wrestling. A few moments later, they both pulled apart from each other, laughing their heads off.

Kupe looked around. No-one was in the vicinity; no-one had witnessed them fight. “Damn! No-one will believe I knocked the half God to the ground.” They laughed again.

For some time, they just lay back, looking at the bright blue sky between the trees above – it was the kind of day that made one happy just to do nothing.

Then Kupe looked over at his friend. “Do you love her?”

Maui thought of the way she made him feel quite dizzy, how his legs lost their strength, and the churning of his stomach – he thought of the way he had wanted to tumble her into his boat earlier. “Yes,” he whispered.

There was no immediate answer.

“Sorry, Kupe…” Maui whispered again.

“Thanks for being honest with me…”

“Do you love her?”

“I have always loved her,” Kupe sighed, “since we were children. But she loved someone else, the whole tribe believed that they’d grow up and marry. I thought so too…it was a surprise to everyone when he married her best friend…”

Maui sighed. “Well, you’re a lucky man, Kupe…”

Kupe sighed. “Am I? If you’d joined her circle, she would have picked you…”

Maui leaned up on an elbow, facing his friend. “Well I didn’t. I regret it, but I didn’t. Now we all have to live with that…”

Kupe leaned up on an elbow, facing his friend. “You mean that?”

Maui thought of Tama, and how he hadn’t turned up at Taranga, his mother’s wedding circle, and just like his foster father, who had learned to live without the great love of his life, he realized, he must also, and swallowed. “I’m glad…she has a man who really loves her, Kupe…”

“Hang on! Did you say earlier; ‘first girl you’ve ever had feelings for’?”

Maui sighed. He wasn’t sure what he felt for Mahuika. She was beautiful, so much so that most males would be attracted to her, but she was cold, callous, and tempestuous, just like the environment that she grew up in. He thought back to when he revisited Kapua and his people and had said in front of her that he was interested in learning how to ‘tame the sea in their remarkable boats’, knowing that the over-confident female would offer to do so. But what he’d imagined could have been an adventurous amorous encounter on the sea, she actually constantly snapped at him, instead of patiently teaching him, as if determined to make the half God feel inferior and stupid.

Still, once beyond the crazy crashing in-coming waves, he had slowly, tenderly approached her, but she had punched him. Hard. So hard that he fell backwards, and it was she, who straddled and had her way with him, without foreplay. And afterwards, she instantly pulled away from him, there was no cuddling, or happily lying exhausted in each other’s arms on the blissful waves, and she immediately went back to shouting orders at him regarding their return trip home.

When they had tied the boat among the others, he was about to thank her, as he made his way to the ladder to his cliff, but she had barked, “you need more lessons, see you same time tomorrow!” After which she swam off, leaving him feeling mystified, and not sure if he was glad that although unpleasant to him, it seemed as though she wanted to see him again, regardless.

Still, he turned up the next day, and before she had a chance to shout orders, he did remember everything she had said the day before, and expertly took the boat out – and this time, he punched her, held her down, and raped her. Then without lying happily in each other’s arms, he also immediately and expertly brought the boat back in, tied it securely, and made for the ladder. And also, before she had a chance to say anything, he yelled at her, “you need more lessons, see you same time tomorrow!”

Which was today. But he had not liked the insolent girl, and after revengefully treating her the way she had him, he had planned not to turn up, ever again…now though, after speaking about love and marriage with his friend, he wondered if perhaps the unfeeling girl was actually the best sort, for the independent Maui.

And thinking back to the unusual encounter with an unusual girl in an unusual place, he grinned. He stood, looked down at his friend and happily said, “I have a date, and I’m late, see you later,” and took off as fast as he could run with a perplexed Kupe calling after him, “who? Maui, wait! Who?” He was so curious he considered running after Maui, but he knew that he would never catch up to him, after running around his mountain his whole life, no one ran as fast as Maui did…

A couple of days later, while out on Kupe’s boat (they took turns with each other’s boats), Kupe asked again, “Tell me about your mystery woman, Maui…” he knew everyone in the village, and it was not known who Maui was enamored with. “Why are you both keeping it such a secret?”

Maui had been concentrating on fishing and ignored the question.

Kupe grabbed the line and net and pointed at all the fish at the bottom of the boat. “Stop it Maui! We have enough to feed everyone for days…”

They both sat and prepared to relax and take a nice, leisurely trip back home. The sun not too hot, the breeze not too cool, a perfect end to a perfect day.

Maui cleared his throat. “You don’t know her, Kupe…”

Kupe frowned, and started, “I know everyone in the vill…” then realization dawned on him. He remembered when Maui had shown him some people living in precarious conditions north of the otherwise paradisiacal island. “Ohhhhhh……”

Maui just sniggered.

“They finally noticed you spying on them…”

Maui blinked at his friend. “They knew I was watching all along…”

Kupe blinked back. “But…aren’t you afraid of them? They’re…” he was about to say, ‘the enemy’, “and…you’re…” he was about to say ‘the heir’, he was mystified, and did not know what to say…

“I fell…”

“Over the cliff?”

“If it wasn’t for them, I could have drowned…if I was considered a danger to them, they would have let me…”

“WOW!”

“Their Chief, Kapua, says he’s changed…I wanted to bring them back home, but he also says that his people know of no other lifestyle now and may not be able to adjust…” he thought of the girl that was an expert, and she was young – the others would have to be much more experienced than her. “Even the children have mastered their volatile domain…”

“I’ve never heard you say so much, before…she…must be quite…amazing…”

Maui shrugged. “Yea…amazing…”

“Yet you don’t seem too…smitten?!?”

I was once, Maui thought to himself, but didn’t do anything about it when he had the chance to and should have. He sighed. “She…Mahuika, is not the romantic sort. Just perfect, for a guy like me…”

And Kupe thought, well, at least his friend has a girl, and might stay away from his wife. “I have some good news too, Maui, Amira…is pregnant…”

Inwardly, Maui’s heart heaved. Outwardly, he forced his face to show no pain. “Congratulations, I’m…” but his voice faltered, “happy for you both…” He cursed himself. He wanted Kupe’s life, but he needed his…he wished he could have Amira and children with her, but if he was to leave in search of his father, he could not have any commitments. He told himself that his father managed to leave without him, his own son. He reminded himself that Tama managed to live without the great love of his life. Why then, did he feel so damn wretched???

But he didn’t have time to ponder his problems, he saw it first, as they neared their island, the smoke – so much dark smoke rising in the air, above their island, above their village – Kupe noticed his friend seemed to go paler than the pale person that he was, and looked at what Maui was staring at and his own mouth dropped open in despair. They had been relaxing, enjoying the warm afternoon air, letting the little sail bring them home, with Maui steering - both grabbed an oar and tried to help their little boat go faster, with Maui still trying to steer with one hand as well.

Somewhere in their panic, Maui decided that they’d better build boats like Kapua’s fleet – that is, if there are any survivors – he hadn’t let himself get too close to the villagers, even he knew it would be more difficult to leave people when he was ready to go – his people – now, he wondered if he – if he and Kupe, had any people left, if – Amira – he looked up to the sky, it was reddening, evening, the sun setting dramatically, as if it too, panicked and he thought, ‘father, if you are up there, and if you really are a God, please, please let Amira be alright…’

Kupe looked back at him – had Maui pleaded out loud? Prayed? Then he surprised Maui by seriously pleading, “Maui, please, please, let Amira be alright, please, Maui…” that’s when Maui realized that to the people, he was a half God. Did he indeed have the power to answer prayers? Could he truly save Amira? He had always doubted the rumors, thought he was just an abnormal freak of nature, had inwardly laughed at the way people revered him, had told them that he looked different but was just like them, a normal human being, but did they truly believe the rumor? The older ones knew his father, and his accompanying group, and they say that the visitors were very fair, fairer even than he is – but what if they were just other people from some part of the same world that had less warm sunshine? The thought of saving the woman he loved though, made him wonder if he literally did have powers that he was unaware of – to save the woman he loved, he must try, but try what exactly? In all of Tama’s teachings over the years, he had mentioned the power of positivity and prayer, so letting the steering rod and paddle go, he closed his eyes, and relaxing, concentrated, meditated…

Kupe noticed, decided he’d better grab the steering rod, ceased paddling to do so, but noticed that miraculously, the boat, without them paddling or steering, seemed to be soaring right into their harbor – Kupe gasped – Maui heard him, opened his eyes, and there, on the pier waving to them, stood Amira…

Kupe grabbed Maui in a big hug. “Oh, thank you Maui, thank you, thank you…”

The boat though, being unmanned, crash landed – the sailors didn’t care about the boat, they ran to Amira and the three of them hugged and held each other close.

Although they knew from the amount of smoke they’d seen from way out on the ocean what to expect, the devastation was horrifying to behold – most of the boats had been scorched, some still smoldering - some buildings were still on fire, others were burned to the ground – but the bodies – of both villagers and attackers, were everywhere, the few who weren’t too badly injured were trying to put out fires, and help the others – the villagers had fought bravely ‘using the tricks that Maui the half God had taught them,’ some of the surviving youngest warriors proudly announced, among the carnage.

As the three from the pier made their way into the village, Tama approached them. He swaggered uncertainly and started to fall from exhaustion – Maui caught him in his arms.

“It happened all so fast,” he managed, as Maui helped him to the ground, “they swept in like a tidal wave; still, our warriors bravely fought them off and the few remaining cowards retreated without even picking up their dead – so proud of our people, everyone fought, even the women and children – so proud…”

“And…” Maui swallowed, “my grandfather?”

Tama nodded and managed to smile happily up at Maui. Maui had never called Muri, his grandfather, before. “He’s safe, Maui, go to him…”

But Maui did not get a chance to. One of the amazing boats of Kapua’s people pulled into the harbor. Followed by others. A beautiful girl jumped from the first one, left the securing of her boat to another, and ran to Maui. “We saw the smoke,” she started, “and immediately started on our way – we saw the attackers fleeing the scene and took after them – we believe that they’re the marauding Te Atua of the reefs south west of here - none escaped, they’re all at the bottom of the sea now, we made sure of that…”

All eyes were on Maui and the beautiful girl and her comrades, approaching behind her, including Kapua.

Maui started introducing her to Tama, Kupe and Amira, when Tama stood. “Welcome, we are indebted to you all. I will go get Muri, to thank you himself…” But he didn’t get a chance to, Muri was running, arms outstretched, towards his brother…

So, it took an attack on the main village to reunite the divided tribe. The twins were so happy to be together again after being apart for so long. More mature, over the years both had realized that it was not important who was the main Chief after all, and as Kapua did not have a son, both agreed that Maui was their heir. Both though, did not notice Maui’s groan. Kupe did. They were all having a combination catch-up and funeral meal together. Just as well it was a fine warm evening, for the large communal hall had been burned to the ground. In fact, it was still smoldering. It was an unusual evening. Sad, for the senseless deaths, but also enjoyable, for the reunion of the twin brothers and their survivors. Everyone though, apart from Kapua and his people, were surprised to see that Maui and Mahuika, although not the most affectionate of mates, were obviously a couple, never-the-less.

Kupe grinned good heartedly at his friend. Amira did not even try to hide her contempt for Maui and Mahuika. Maui ignored them both. Tama, Muri and Kapua, seemed pleased that the independent half God and forceful woman were an item.

As soon as Kupe got a chance to speak with Maui, playfully elbowing his friend, he said, “she’s beautiful Maui, now I know why we don’t see much of you anymore…”

Maui shrugged wistfully, “yea…”

“You don’t seem too…passionate, though…”

“She suits me just fine, that’s just how we are…”

“I noticed that you also lacked enthusiasm for being the heir, our next Chief?!?”

“You know me better than anyone Kupe,” Maui swallowed, “I’m not much of a ‘people person’, am I?!?”

“But there’s no-one better than you for the job Maui, you’re the half God! I saw what you did, on the boat, you made sure Amira was not harmed. A pretty female like that, could have been kidnapped…”

“I didn’t do anything Kupe…it was all over already, before we reached home…”

“I saw you praying! I saw the boat fly into port…”

“And crashed! I don’t have the powers my father has! I am only a half God. I am half mortal as well!”

“You just don’t want to admit it because you don’t want responsibilities. I saw you Maui, with my own eyes, I saw what you did!!!”

Maui just groaned.

Right then, Mahuika joined them. Maui took her hand and said to Kupe. “Alright then, as your future boss, Kupe, go and make sure our guests are comfortable. Mahuika and I are retiring for the night…”

Kupe grinned, bowed over-dramatically, and left, whistling as he went.

Maui just shook his head, then took Mahuika up to his hammock…

CHAPTER FOUR

THE JOURNEY

“There’s something I have to do…”

“I understand,” Tama nodded, “I truly do…but my son, don’t stay away too long…Muri hasn’t been the same since that attack, and…he…everyone expects you to take his place…”

“I’ve already told Manaia, to run the place in my stead.”

Manaia was the Chief warrior. As the head protectors and providers (warriors usually did the fishing and hunting as well whilst patrolling the territory), it was not unusual for them to look after the people and ofttimes ended up becoming the next Royalty, if there were no heirs from the preceding royal family.

“He led our tribe to victory,” Tama agreed, “and has earned that right. But Maui,” he fought back the tears, he had never shown emotion, and he wasn’t going to give in to it now, “I…I bought you up, taught you, prepared you, I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have a God visit us. Now we have his son, a half God in our midst…” ‘Everything went exactly how I’d planned,’ he thought to himself, but continued out loud, “I bought you up to be our Chief, to be the only tribe with a powerful, half God Chief!”

Maui took Tama by the shoulders, “I know Tama, I know…but I have to try to find my father…I have to find out why…” his voice broke, “why he left me…”

Tama nodded, and indicated with a wave of his hand, for the young man to go, leave, then turned his back on him, and returned to his tent. They’d been standing on the cliff. Tama was the only father he had ever known. But from him, Maui also, learned not to show emotion. He turned on his heels, and made for his boat.

But when he reached the pier, he stopped in surprise. Kupe was there, with Maui’s two younger half-brothers, the best newest warriors, a part of a group of the young ones that Maui had taught himself, ready and waiting to go with him. Maui was about to object, say that Inia would never agree, but he was there and was excitedly saying goodbye to his sons, it seemed like almost the whole village were turning up, curious and proud that three of their men were going on a trip with their half God.

“But…what about Amira,” Maui frowned at Kupe, “she’s pregnant…”

“Then we’d better hurry up,” Kupe grinned, “the sooner we find your father, the better…”

Inwardly, Maui groaned. But in front of Inia and other villagers who had come to see them off, Maui tried to smile happily. He failed. He sighed. “We’d better go, then…but I don’t want to hear any complaints. Is that understood?”

The young men cheered. The villagers cheered. And this time, Maui let his groan be heard out loud, not caring who heard how he really felt about the situation…

As they were about to board, Mahuika came running, pushing her way between the people, and hit out at Maui with a clenched fist – but he was used to her punches, and grabbed her hand before she managed to hit him – her breast was heaving, they glared at each other.

“You! You think you can just leave me? Leave me waiting up in your hammock without even saying good-by?”

He hadn’t known that she went there to be with him this evening. After a while, she obviously decided to go find him, and found out what was happening from the villagers. “Goodbye, Mahuika…” was Maui’s simple, sullen reply…

Her face contorted. She was trying to fight back tears.

Maui softened and took the usually unemotional girl into his arms.

Sniffing, she helplessly blinked up at the determined man. “You…” she swallowed, “you better come back Maui, you better come back!”

He nodded. But he couldn’t verbally promise he’d return; he had no idea what sort of future he, his friend and brothers, were facing.

Except for Maui, they were all in his boat, they all had oars, and were eager to go. Inia and Amira were making sure that they had gourds of water, food, and blankets. Maui was about to decline the blankets, explain the folly of blankets in the splashing waves, then changed his mind. Everyone knew that. But everyone also knew that family needed to be caring, no matter how odd their concerns were.

For a moment, he hesitated, and studied the sky in silence…it was a balmy evening, with a gentle, slight breeze…after all this time, now the time had arrived, Maui did not seem to be in a hurry to go…was he meditating? Praying? They presumed that the half God knew what he was doing, and watching him, waited patiently…

And just as the setting sun hit the horizon on the ocean, Maui swung his legs over and into the canoe. “OK, let’s go…”

As they were leaving the pier and making for the outlet to the ocean, Kupe, who was ready to let out the sail and take the steering rod asked, “which way?”

And Maui surprised them all with an answer. They’d all presumed he was just going to sail around willy nilly until he’d get tired of searching and return home. For surely, if his father was nearby, he would have kept in touch. But in an excited voice of anticipation, he made sure they all heard. “South west of the setting sun…”

After which, Maui settled comfortably, as if he was going to take a nap.

“You can’t go to sleep, Maui,” Kupe sounded a little concerned at his friend’s behavior. They were going on a journey, an adventure, they were all excited, while their leader relaxed and calmly snuggled down in the boat.

“I didn’t need you guys,” Maui pulled his headband down over his eyes and ears, “but you all insisted on coming! Good, you can do the work…”

“But what if…?”

Maui put a finger up to shush his friend.

Sometime later, when it was darkening, and the youngsters were afraid, for they’d never gone this far from home before, and always returned before dark, Maui stirred. A sigh of relief went around the boat.

Maui pushed his head band back up onto his forehead and stared up at the stars. A moment later, he told his comrades, to also look up at the night sky, and to take note of the star patterns, as they will have to search for those patterns, when returning home. For a while, his brothers were happy to point out some of the patterns to each other. Then he told them to stop the boat, and put their hands over the side, into the water, and told them to take note of the feel, and to take note of the shade, that they must do that from time to time, and they must also memorize the changes. He asked if they can feel which way the current was going. When they shook their heads ‘no’, he got into the water, and told them to also get into the water, until they could feel which way the current was going. Excitedly, they jumped into the water, but could not feel which way the current was going, but Maui refused to let them back in, until they did…he told them to stop playing around, close their yes, and concentrate – within seconds, all exclaimed that they could feel the current, and knew which way it was going. “Good. Now also remember that, for your return trip. It is going where we’re headed, which will help us. When you return, you will have to go against it. Which will be harder. You may have to row, more than sail. That will depend on the wind. Now let’s all get back into the boat…he also told them to look out for clouds, and which ones would be more likely to be a potential problem and to attempt to sail around storms instead of going through them. He also told them to look out for birds, to follow them, to restock on fresh water and stretch their legs on land awhile…and if there were great migrating flocks to follow, how much easier it was to get around their ocean world. And finally, he added, “we’ll take turns at sleeping and sailing.” Kupe was stupefied. He was the experienced fisherman, from a long line of fishermen in his family, and should have known all that. He looked at his friend with a new respect. And if the three had ever doubted that Maui was a half God, they did no longer, and his two excited yet tiring young brothers were smiling proudly, at their clever brother.

Later, as the best friends sat together, and the brothers were sleeping, Kupe whispered to his friend. “You said, ‘on your return trip’, and when you return...“ Kupe gulped. “You’re not planning to return with us, are you Maui?”

Maui shrugged. “Of…of course I am. But just in case, you will all have to know how to get back home…”

Kupe looked unconvinced.

“I can’t promise anything, Kupe…no-one, including me, knows what’s in our future…it all seemed so simple when I’d planned to sail solo. But now I’m responsible for you, and my younger brothers. Now get some rest.”

But Kupe ignored the advice and continued, “How…how do you know all that? Being the son of a fisherman, I thought that I was the expert of the sea…that’s why I thought I’d better accompany you. But…you know more about our environment than I do…”

“Fishermen don’t go so far away that they can no longer see the highest peak of our mountain, and it’s sensible to return home before it gets too dark…”

“That’s obvious. You’re avoiding my question…”

“OK. Before my mother died, she opened her arms for me to go into them and cuddle with her. She said she felt guilty for her part in my being left behind. She admitted that Makea did want to take me with him. But she said that naturally, she wanted to keep me too. She whispered to me, for my ears alone, that when Makea left, she thought that they left above the water, not on it, but she wasn’t sure about that, because of the impossibility of such a phenomenon, but she did say that one thing she was absolutely certain about, was that he and his people took off in the evening, just as the sun hit the horizon, southwest of the setting sun…”

“And all the rest?” Kupe was intrigued, “stars, currents, varying clouds, birds?”

Maui sighed. He was missing her and their boating trips, already. “Mahuika…her people are tough, they have mastered their environment, and know how to live with the elements…”

Kupe grinned. “You really like her, don’t you?”

“I didn’t, but…” he thought of how masculine and protective the feminine Amira made him feel. If he was Kupe, he could never leave her. But he was not Kupe. And the life he had planned for himself did not include having a loving wife. “Mahuika’s strong, I won’t have to worry about her. We suit each other…”

“My sister Terita is strong, she was hoping…”

But Maui interrupted him. “I know…”

“Yet you…”

“Didn’t want to get too close to the villagers…when ready to look for my father, I thought it would be difficult leaving loving relatives…”

“Yet…you and I…”

Maui sighed and looked at his friend. He had always been straight with him. “Kupe, as I told Tama once, you…had a boat…”

Kupe blinked uncertainly. “You used me…”

Maui nodded. “Yup…”

“I thought we were best mates?!?”

“We are…can’t spend that much time together and not be…”

Kupe looked unconvinced.

Maui sighed. “I took you to my favorite places. I took you to my father’s place, and to Kapua’s…”

“And now you’re taking me to look for your father…”

“Yup…but I hadn’t planned to…”

“Maybe you should have bought Mahuika along too…”

“Actually, I didn’t want the added responsibility of any…others! Especially, my own brothers!?!”

“But Tama knew that that would probably be the only way to make sure you return…”

“Tama?!?”

Kupe nodded.

Maui groaned. “I always underestimate the guy…”

They laughed.

****** ****** ******

They were rounding a small island but could not find any beaches to land on – the tide was in, and it was high. It was more like a giant rock jutting out of the sea, than an island – after following a bird to get fresh water – there were lots of birds screeching and flapping their wings seemingly clinging to the rock, mostly near the top ridges…

‘Wait,” Maui had warned the eager youngsters earlier, “we have to make sure there are no pirates like those Te Atua Reef People watching and waiting to ambush us, a small boat alone on the great sea without a larger mother ship or fleet…”

“I could swim over, climb…” one of the youngsters eagerly volunteered.

Maui groaned. ‘And how do I explain an accident, maybe even a death, to your father,’ he thought to himself, but said, “No, I’ll do it…” he turned to Kupe. “If anything happens, anything at all, don’t wait for me, flee…return home…!”

Kupe looked uncertain.

“That’s an order,” Maui stood, “just go back the way we came…”

They all looked around them, the sea looked the same in every direction. “That’s because the sun is directly above us – when you feel you’re far enough away to be safe, wait to see which way the sun travels. You all know what to look for to return home! Just do the opposite to what we did when we came here.” He dived overboard, before any further volunteers or objections came from his enthusiastic, yet unconfident crew.

Maui climbed. Close up, the rock was much steeper and taller than he’d anticipated. It reminded him of Kapua’s place. What would Mahuika do? He thought to himself. He envisioned her laying back in the surf, and letting it lift her to where she wanted to go – he decided to try it. The swell lowered. As it returned, he lay back onto the water – he did sink, a little, but he also, and to everyone’s surprise, rose with the water - it worked – it took him at least halfway up. It practically splashed him onto the wall. And just like Mahuika, he grabbed hold of some jagged pieces with his hands and toes. What would Kapua do? He would grab onto any plant life that hung over the edge or managed to grow on the rocky formations – just like the vines that swayed in the wind just out of his reach – so what would Maui do? Maui would climb, but the jagged pieces were crumbling in his hands – what would the half God do? The half God would jump – and that’s exactly what he did, and grabbing some vines, he ran his feet on the wall from side to side, gathering momentum, as his hands went one over the other on the stronger than normal wind and sea swept vines imbedded in rock, pulling himself closer and closer to the top – his men held their breath as they watched – near the top, a bird squealed and swiped at him, he had come too close to it’s nest, but bringing heavy loads of seafood up Tama’s cliff his whole life, he was used to birds swiping at him, and ignored it and with one final lunge, he pulled himself onto the top –

His men sighed – the brothers were about to cheer, but Kupe signed for them all to remain quiet until Maui signaled it was safe –

On his belly, Maui crawled along until he found himself on the edge of an old dormant crater – there didn’t seem to be any people anywhere, only birds – but there didn’t seem to be any fresh water either – the crater was a deserted desert. The vines and grasses on the edges reliant only on high windblown splashes of sea water. But he and his men could not rely on sea water. They had to find another island. He was about to return, stand up, when he heard a scream – he crawled over some more, and saw them – in an incline, a cavern under where he’d just been lying and had thought that the place was uninhabited – sitting beside a pond, a woman, and a boy – so enough rain does get in, or does it? The light reflectiveness of the water in a shadowed cave suggested that the water was lit because of sunlight from another opening, perhaps an outlet to the ocean? Maui had noticed the phenomenon in the cave at Kapua’s place.

Even from where he was, Maui could see that the boy had a scar across his cheek, and the woman, although very attractive, looked as though she’d been in some wars as well. But the most disturbing sight in the scene before him, was a man – just below Maui, hanging from the roof, above a fire – still alive, and looking back at Maui, silently mouthing ‘help me’ - vine ropes around his feet and hands, the furthest reaches, from the flames.

Maui went back for the vines he’d been swinging around on just moments earlier – were they long enough? He had no time to think about it – unsheathing his bone knife that he always had belted around his hips since meeting Mahuika who always did, in one hand, and the vine in the other, Maui swung himself over the edge into the cave, and into the hanging man, slicing the closest rope that held him, his added sudden crashing weight causing the other rope to break from the ceiling, and the momentum had himself and the man flying over the fire, seemingly letting go of the vines just as they were above the waterhole, and falling into it – the woman jumping up and screaming at them as they went down, the boy not moving, not startled by the sudden rescue of their meal, just silently starring – through the water - at Maui – Maui starred back, as he and the man sank from the scene…

His men were so surprised to have Maui suddenly appear out of the water at their boat’s edge, with a man in his arms – they had been watching the clifftop for him…

The men helped pull the man in, while Maui climbed in, yelling at them to ‘row as fast as they could’, as he did so – he hadn’t noticed any other people, or boats, but after what he’d just witnessed, he wasn’t going to wait around for any further abominable surprises…

“Sorry guys,” he managed when he believed that they might be far enough away to be safe and slow their pace, “no fresh water there…”

He examined the man that was supposed to have been a meal, and tried to joke, “got you just in time, no serious burns, nothing worse than what a few hours in the hot sun would have done, the salt water would have cleansed the damage, we…didn’t think to…” he stopped as he thought how Tama would have thought to if he went on a trip, he always thought of everything. But, Maui hadn’t planned on having any passengers to look after. “I didn’t think to bring any medications with us…you’ll feel uncomfortable for a few days, but…you’ll be fine…”

Kupe placed a blanket over him and introduced everyone to the man, then handed him a drink. “We still have some water, we stopped, hoping to find more before we run out completely…”

The man was too shocked at having just escaped being barbecued to say much. “I’m…I’m Paehia…”

Maui tried to hide it, but he couldn’t – he burst out laughing. “Nah! Really?”

A grin showed on Paehia’s face. “Really…”

Author’s note: in some Polynesian dialects, Paehia/Pa’eia/Pai’ia means burned

As they travelled, they found out from Paehia that the woman appeared on the top when he was passing by and enticed him to land for pleasure. There were many bones in that cave, he’d said, so she had probably been doing that for some time. While having sex on the ledge, her child, who had been hiding, would sneak up and whack the unsuspecting sailors over the head with an oar, then mother and son would roll them over the side into the cavern, and climb down with the help of the vines. She and her child could have escaped the island several times on her victim’s boats, if in low tide they found a place to climb, they would have found a place to tie a boat as well. There is only one reason a woman would be living on her own in Polynesia, and that would be because she committed murder, was deemed unsafe to her family, and banished from her tribe. She may have been placed there, so she could never leave and return with revenge in mind. So, she hated people and decided to eat them rather than be rescued, and her rescuer possibly finding out that she was an outcast killer.

“And sometimes her victims did not lose consciousness immediately,” Paehia added, “like me, and put up a fight…”

“I did notice the scars,” Maui continued, “even on that poor kid…”

Silence for a moment.

“She must only make herself be seen by solo sailors,” one of the youngsters added, “she and her kid couldn’t overcome several sailors on their own…”

“Or,” Maui thought of that ledge that he’d crawled on, “she could help pull a guy up, and her kid bat him over the other side, one, by one…”

Kupe shook his head in disbelief. “I wouldn’t even give climbing that place a go, no matter how good looking the woman…”

Silence again, as if they all considered the possibility or probability of the prospect.

One of the youngsters agreed. “Nah…nor would I…”

The other youngster said to him, “but that’s because you now know how dangerous a woman on a rock could be…”

They laughed.

The first one shrugged, “hmmmm I suppose…it all depends on how good looking she is…”

“But,” Paehia smiled at the younsters, “make sure you have your knife strapped to you, like Maui did…”

More laughter.

Soon after, when the youngsters were snoozing, Paehia added to Maui, “I’m so glad you appeared when you did…”

“I’m glad you screamed,” Maui answered, “I was about to leave again…”

“How did you know…that pool went out to the sea?”

“I didn’t for sure, but from where I was, that cavern was dark…the sunlight in the water must have come from another opening opposite, where the sun was…I doubted the vine I was swinging on was long enough either, or strong enough, and it wasn’t, but swinging for you had me going in your direction when it broke, but I didn’t need it anymore, I had you to hold onto…”

Paehia looked surprised.

Maui continued, “well, we really didn’t have any other choices, did we?”

Kupe beamed proudly, “Maui’s father was a God…”

Maui just shook his head…

“Aahhh,” Paehia replied, “that explains the…pale appearance…”

Maui groaned. “I’m just fairer,” he put out his hands, palms up, for all to see the abrasions from climbing a jagged rock and swinging on a rope, “I scratch and bleed, just like the rest of you…”

Kupe whispered to their new friend, “he’s in some kind of denial…”

Paehia whispered back, “of course, it can’t be easy, being different…”

“I’m not deaf!” Maui scowled at them both, “I might look different, but I’m not deaf…I can hear you…”

Kupe and Paehia ignored Maui.

Paehia looked at Kupe. “God of?”

Kupe replied, “Our head Tohunga Tama told us that his father and his companions arrived during the most torrid of storms we’ve ever had. He says his father was, Makea, the Storm God…”

Paehia looked at Maui. “WOW!”

“And Maui prefers the outdoors,” continued Kupe, “even sleeps in a hammock, no matter what the weather…”

Maui just rolled his eyes…

The youngsters, not completely asleep, giggled at the adults.

“Yep,” Kupe continued proudly, “Where we come from, Maui is known as, the half God…”

CHAPTER FIVE

THE DISCOVERY

They passed other reefs and islands on their way, all seemingly deserted, where they enjoyed having their feet on the ground for a much-needed change, refilled their water gourds, enjoyed tropical fruits, smoked fish and fowl, and wrapped leftovers in banana leaves for their continuing journey.

One island was so lovely, with waterfalls and lush plant life, that the younger brothers pleaded to stay there for a full day and night – even the men were enjoying the little Paradise and agreed to a well-deserved break from sailing.

Watching the sun setting, Maui decided to climb up a high ridge, and peer towards the horizon – he sighed. It didn’t matter how many nights they sailed southwest of the setting sun, nothing changed – he wasn’t sure what he was expecting, a grand village perhaps? Shining brightly? With boats his mother thought sailed extremely fast, and possibly above the ocean instead of…on it? A superior race using superior tools and wearing superior materials, as Tama had told him? But so far, and they’d travelled very far, nothing changed, it was still, the same, sea around them in all directions, with bits of land here and there, some baren, others, like this one, with plenty of food and water – he sighed. Was he losing enthusiasm for this search that he had always planned to do? Were their inferior boats unable to go fast enough to rise above the water and maybe end up in the heavens as Taranga had expected and Tama believed? “Where are you Makea?” He hadn’t realized he was speaking out loud, “where are you?!?”

“Who are you speaking to?” Paehia had noticed Maui going off on his own and joined him.

“No-one.” But his answer had been too quick, too blunt…

Paehia just tilted his head and waited for an explanation.

Maui cleared his throat. “Of course, you have no idea what we’re doing, where we’re going. And quite frankly, neither do we…”

“You…look like you know what you’re doing, relentlessly staying on your…southwest of the setting sun course…”

Maui was sure that hadn’t been mentioned since Paehia had joined them. “You’re very astute…” then Maui realized that they haven’t come across any other people except for him, the woman and boy. “Obviously, an experienced sailor?”

“I’ve never been this far, I don’t think anyone has…”

Maui sat on the ground. “Where are you from Paehia?”

Paehia squatted beside Maui, but did not sit, as if he might need to suddenly run. “Promise you won’t take me back to that woman and boy if I told you?”

“Aaaahhh, I thought so…you’re a…Te Atuaan, aren’t you?”

Paehia looked at the ground and nodded. “How did…how did you know?”

“I didn’t…well, I wasn’t sure, until now…”

Paehia looked at Maui and sighed. “You’re very clever…truly a God’s son, as…the others believe…”

Maui thought of the foster father who had taught him how to read signs and people and shook his head. “Nah…I’m a Tohunga’s son,” his voice broke, “and I selfishly left him to find a man who left me when I was a babe…”

“You can leave me here, now that you know what I am…”

Maui grinned and indicated their lovely surroundings with his hands. “I didn’t rescue you to leave you in…Paradise…”

They laughed.

“And I wouldn’t hurt the man who saved me, or his people…”

“I know…”

“You’re a very fair man…”

Maui turned his gaze back to the horizon. Just in time to see the sun sink. “No…I befriended a man, Kupe, who could teach me about sailing while fishing. I befriended a woman who could teach me about surviving while sailing. Now, my newest friend, you can teach me about winning, while surviving…”

“You want me to teach you how to be a ruthless raider?”

For a moment, Maui pretended to consider the idea. “No, I want you to teach me how to beat them. It would have to be advantageous to know their skills, wouldn’t it?”

Paehia sat next to Maui. “We can start right now. Would you like to know how I survived that raid on your village?”

Maui nodded.

“The faster boats coming after us from the rocky end of your island were onto us so quickly, I upturned my boat, hid under it, there’s enough air between the water and boat to breathe and I waited until all was silent – our counter attackers presumed everyone on all the battle damaged and upturned boats had been killed – I waited for them to leave, up righted my boat, and continued…”

“Aaaahhhh…” was Maui’s reply.

“Your turn.”

“Huh?”

“How did you know I was a Te Atuaan?”

“Many things…”

“Eh?”

“For one thing, we would never end up being someone’s dinner…”

“No…”

“No. You’re right.” Maui thought of the way that he couldn’t stay away from the crazy Mahuika, even when he’d actually decided to do so. “I was just teasing. No, it’s just…on our travels, we haven’t come across any other people, and you reef people are known to inhabit the most uninhabitable places…”

“No…”

“No, I’m still teasing…but really, you’re the only people known to be restless wanderers…even solo wanderers…and like that woman and kid, do what you must to survive…”

“You’re very understanding, Maui…”

“Why do you say that?”

“You haven’t killed me, you could have left me to roast, yet…”

Maui cleared his throat. “I’m…a restless wanderer too…”

Soon after continuing their journey, Maui noticed that the water wasn’t as aqua looking anymore, it was darker – he jumped in – it even felt different, thicker, and the current was swirling – and again, he told the others to get in the water, but they groaned their objections, it was much too cold – he climbed back into the boat. “Have you noticed how different the water is?”

“Colder,” they all answered at once, “and we’re not getting in!”

“And darker…remember that, on your return voyage…”

“You keep saying ‘your’ return voyage,” Kupe reminded him, “are you planning not to go back with us?”

Maui ignored him. “The current seems a little discernable too…” as if attempting to connect with a different sea, or world, Maui thought to himself, at last, the first sign that they might be getting close to the place of the Gods…

“Answer me, Maui!”

Maui looked at the younger brothers he hardly knew. “Just making sure you’ll all get home again, Kupe…with, or without me…”

The younger boys blinked up uncertainly at their amazing brother. Maui noticed. He cleared his throat and looked at them. “I’m very proud of you both…”

They looked at each other and grinned.

The next morning, noticing all their food had been eaten, Maui decided to drop a fishing line overboard. The others were dozing, enjoying the gentle morning sun on their faces, while rocking on the waves. When quite suddenly, the rocking wasn’t so gentle and it seemed to be alternating, rocky for a moment, calm for a moment. Their first impulse was to look at Maui, thinking he must have caught a very large fish, that was trying to free itself, but Maui was looking just as mystified – the sea was usually calm, or crazy, not both at the same time…

“What have you caught there Maui?” Kupe tried to keep the alarm from his voice in front of the youngsters.

“Nothing,” replied Maui, but he wasn’t convincing. He pulled the line up, for proof. The line was muddied. They all peered over the side. The water was dark. Maui put his hand into the water. A moment ago, it had been cold. Too cold to even entice a couple of kids to go for a swim. Now, suddenly, it was feeling quite warm. His comrades, noticing his strange expression, also put their hands into the water. They had never seen or felt feeling this hot before, in their whole lives northeast of their water world. Had they actually made it to the place of the Gods?

Something was happening, Maui noticed out of the corner of his eyes. Movement. He turned his head slowly, not knowing if he wanted to see what was happening next, or not…bubbling on the horizon…the only bubbling water he was familiar with was boiling water, rare, but occasionally, around his own volcanic mountain. He was curious, but afraid for the others, at the same time. What if the God’s world was too volcanic, what if they, mere mortals, could not live in the place of the Gods – he cursed – if he was alone, as planned, he would sail into their place, and find out if he was God enough to survive it – but he was with his mortal brothers and friends, as the clever Tama had planned, he felt responsible for them, and had to save them from harm. He was about to shout out, ‘Row, fast as you can, we have to return, get out of here,’ but he didn’t have a chance to – suddenly, something was rising out of the bubbles – he lost his voice, they were all mesmerized by the phenomenon – was Maui’s father coming to greet them?

What a welcome display, among colorful spurts, rocks being hurled into the atmosphere, their jaws dropped open in astonishment, they watched what could only be described as a fiery eruption coming up, out of the sea – it seemed to take forever, when Maui remembered watching miniscule similar displays on the top of their own mountain, and sighed…not the land of the Gods after all, they were still in their own, volcanic world and when Maui noticeably sighed with disappointment, the others calmed down – Maui had them sail around the phenomenon, albeit keeping their distance, touching the water from time to time to make sure that it remained cool to warm, if getting too hot, they’d have to keep further back, rather than be boiled alive, and they continued on their journey…

“That was something,” one of his brothers exclaimed, “a rising rock flinging a blood red display into the sky…” and that is exactly what it is referred to, to this day – Rangitoto…

It was late in the day when they continued their journey, the blood red display continuing on behind them, when suddenly, the horizon changed – land – across the horizon – as far as one could see, in either direction – the largest land they had ever come across, on their long journey…

They gasped and slowed in amazement. From way out at sea, they could see several mountain peaks, not just one or two, lush plantation, and birds – thousands, noisy, flapping birds, curiously flew around the newcomers…and dolphins also curiously, swimming alongside them, as if guiding them to their destination…

“We made it Maui,” Kupe couldn’t believe what he was seeing, “your mother was right, we made it…this huge landmass, southwest of the setting sun, must be the home of the Gods…following what she said, we sailed right into it…”

“Well,” Paehia agreed, “I’d doubted it existed, but…there it is, the biggest place I’ve ever seen, at the end of your course…”

Maui sniffed back some tears of relief – he had doubted his mother, but had decided to attempt looking for his father anyway – but – had they really found him? The closer they got, this place also looked deserted, just like every other place they’d passed on their way – then he remembered that his father travelled, even stayed on their island for a while, and probably spent a lot of time away from his home, so he agreed with the others…it must be…this great land spread out before them, blocking their journey any further…it must be…

It was getting dark. “We’ll sleep on board tonight,” he managed to keep the excitement from his voice, “and explore in the morning.”

The others nodded. The biggest place they’d ever seen, could have the biggest things that they’d ever soon too, and although excited, they were also feeling wary, and they were right, in the morning sunlight, even before landing and tying their boat, they noticed trees – taller than they’d ever seen – so tall that one tree could make a canoe long enough to fit a hundred men in it…

“Perfect for war canoes,” Paehia broke the silence, and was rewarded with a stern glance from Maui. “Sorry,” Paehia whispered to him so the others would not hear, “old habits die hard…”

“Yea…” Maui whispered back, “but you’re right, they are…”

Further inland, they disturbed what would be later referred to as a Moa bird, a relative to the Ostrich. Twice the size of men, it fluttered and gawked at them, they unsheathed their knives, but it sauntered away from them – they watched in disbelief until they couldn’t see it anymore.

“That was…” one of the youngsters faltered, “a bird?”

“Big land,” was Maui’s flippant answer, “it must be expected, everything’s bigger here…”

“According to our people,” Kupe looked at Maui, “your father was the same size as us; well, slightly smaller, actually…like you…”

“Unless they change,” wondered one of the brothers out loud, “to suit the land, after all, they’re Gods…”

“I haven’t changed, have I” Maui quipped, but couldn’t blame them for their thoughts, everything here really did appear to be gigantic. Would his father really be a giant in his own domain? If anything, they’ve learned while travelling, they learned that anything was possible, and never to presume otherwise…

“Or,” Kupe continued, “you might go through the change slowly, or…suddenly…”

Maui wanted to say ‘stop being ridiculous’, but he said, “let’s climb,” instead, “get a better view of the place…”

What seemed like hours later, they stopped in a sudden clearing of foliage to look around them. They gasped. The land continued in all directions in front of them for as far as the eye could see. Amazing land. With sparkling rivers, lakes, waterfalls, mountain peaks, some smoldering and smoking…and behind them, the sea, and their little boat on a little beach, from here, it looked like a tiny insect, and they also noticed, the sky was darkening.

“I think we’d better sleep here tonight,” Maui gulped, “we’d never get back down to our boat before complete darkness…”

They were all weary from trying to keep up with Maui’s pace, to object, and tiredly sat down where they stood. Too tired to complain about the colder atmosphere at this height, too tired to complain about being hungry. Maui was glad. He wasn’t in the mood for complaints. Although he had to admit, his younger brothers hadn’t been bothersome on their journey, and he was proud of them. The older men had had more complaints, than the younger ones. He couldn’t wait to inform Inia of the fact. That thought surprised him. Had he already decided that he was definitely going to return with them after all? If his father, a God, was here, wouldn’t he be welcoming them? Especially him, his own son, with open arms? The place was large though, but surely the main God of the place would know if anyone else had arrived on their land?

Maui could not sleep, with all these thoughts pouring through his mind. He leaned against a tree and watched – entranced with the large land spread out before him – so large there were several high peaks, as he looked around him – most islands had one or two mountain peaks, if that – he watched as the sun was lowering itself on the other side of the land – could his father be there? Taranga had only said southwest of the setting sun on the horizon, she didn’t specifically say ‘sea’, she just said horizon, and as the sun slipped from his sight, he knew, that he had not fulfilled his journey, quite yet…

So for a while, his men were following him still, in the southwest of the setting sun direction. They sometimes had to slash their way through dense terrain, they sometimes found themselves slipping and sliding over steaming volcanic plateaus with sudden squirting geysers – Maui kept pushing forward, no matter how precarious or precipitous and he seemed to know exactly where he was going, regardless – although frightening, they trusted the half God and after a few climbs and tumbles, noticed that they were getting used to running after their leader and surprised themselves when they noticed that they were now managing to keep up with him.

Every twist and turn revealed further wondrous sights, Maui had expected complaints, but they were all too captivated by the dramatic wonders of the place and gasps of ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ kept coming – they literally bumped into a lake, the biggest they’d ever seen, about half the size of their whole island, but they’d come too far inland to bother going back for their boat, so after camping there, they kept on their journey on foot, going around it, even Maui thought that it was too large to swim across.

As well as running and camping, they found themselves sometimes climbing, sometimes sliding, swimming rivers, when to their surprise they came to a much larger lake than the first one – they’d thought that the first one was the biggest that they’d ever seen, this one, was twice the size of the other, at least, so large a lake, that it even had an island in it.

Even Maui slowed his pace, so enchanting the place, but what they were about to venture into soon after, could actually only truly be described as - the land of the Gods – undulating white sand dunes absorbing and reflecting every color under the sun, with three, white snow-capped volcanoes, alternating eruptions, was a wondrous sight to behold…

“This really is the land of the Gods,” whispered Kupe reverently, “we have found it Maui, we have found it…”

Maui couldn’t argue, but he was looking for his father, not, his father’s abode. “But he’s not here, Kupe…”

“At the moment,” Kupe ran his hand over a rainbow-colored hardened sand incline, “but you know your father travels, they stayed at our place for quite some time…long enough, for you to be born…”

The others agreed. They’d never seen anything even remotely like the grandeur of this white soft and hard sand place. This magnificent white reflective place, in the middle of a giant land of giant birds and trees southwest of the setting sun, could only be, the residence of the Gods…

CHAPTER SIX

THE MIGRATION

The return trip home was uneventful. They spent another day and night on the Paradisiacal place where Maui and Paehia had learned more about each other. That place would become known as the ‘stop-over rest and restock’ place, for future, continual trips to and from the land of the Gods, and which would be referred to as ‘Kupe’s return place’, he would famously be known for saying that ‘the God’s place was too cold for him to live there’ and later, the place was named Aitu Taki, but later still, become known as Raratonga. South west of that, the land of the storm God, would become known as Aoteroa and later, New Zealand.

They remained quiet, hardly daring to breathe, as they passed the place where Maui had rescued Paehia…still, the scared faced boy stood defiantly up on the ledge, as if daring them to come back…the woman did not show herself.

“Perhaps she’s dead,” Kupe looked at Maui once they’d passed the place, “maybe we should go back and rescue the child?”

Maui shook his head. “That’s the woman’s latest bait!” He looked at his friend, “and if I wasn’t here, it obviously, would have worked!”

Kupe wanted to argue, how could he know for certain, but Maui had taken them to the end of their sea world safely, by just using his uncanny instincts, and now, on their last stretch towards their home, using all the opposite signs, the opposite current, the opposite sky, but most importantly, the opposite course, northeast of the rising sun, Kupe wasn’t going to doubt his friend’s instincts ever again…

The final stretch seemed to go on forever though, they were out of food, out of fresh water, and Kupe started worrying. Unlike the gigantic land that they couldn’t have missed, that had bought their journey to a sudden halt, their island was small, in a group of islands, but even the group, compared to the land that had suddenly stopped them from going any further southwest of the setting sun, was small, they could quite easily sail right past their home without noticing…

Maui was up front, watching, he knew that Kupe was worried, but dared not say so, to him…in truth, Maui himself doubted, but he could never show it, his crew relied on him…

Kupe looked at the brothers, they never complained, it was obvious that they completely trusted their remarkable older sibling…

Paehia had a feeling that Maui needed reassurance. They were now in his territory. He went to stand next to him.

Maui whispered to him, “are we going the right way?”

Paehia whispered back, “Yup…”

Without looking at his latest friend, Maui whispered back, “thanks, Paehia…”

Paehia beamed. The half God was thanking him. “No, thank you, Maui…I’m still alive, because of that amazing stunt of yours…”

“I didn’t have any time to think about it. Right now, with only the sea all around us, I have too much time to think…”

They laughed.

Then Paehia pointed to a speck in the ocean. This far away, they couldn’t discern which island it was, but when another speck appeared, then another, they knew that they were nearing their home group. They were nearly home.

Maui cheered.

Paehia cheered.

The brothers cheered.

And finally, with a sigh of relief, Kupe cheered…

As they neared their island, Maui saw Tama standing on his clifftop. He waved. ‘How did he always know what was happening?’ Maui thought as he waved back, but he was glad to see him…

As they entered their tiny cove, Tama started to run down to the pier, calling to the villagers, “they’re back! They’re back!”

And by the time they were securing their boat, their people were cheerfully running towards them and for the first time in his life, Maui did not feel overwhelmed by the crowd. Quite a few full moons away from his home, his people, he felt glad to be back. A new emotion, and he let Tama hug him. They both knew that it was a new emotion for Tama also.

“I’ll have to go away more often,” Maui said to him, and they laughed, and hugged again.

Amira was one of the first on the pier, her breasts were large with milk, her waist small, she had had her baby, and Maui’s heart skipped a beat. ‘Damn!’ He thought to himself, she still affected him, he had to force himself to look away, as she ran into Kupe’s arms.

Terita was close behind her, she paused and smiled at Maui, he smiled back, but a rather rude Mahuika pushed Kupe’s sister out of the way, and ran to Maui. He braced himself for her usual punch, but this time, she jumped into his arms instead, and he was forced to hold her.

Someone must have asked the inevitable question, because the next thing he knew, Kupe excitedly shouted, “Yes, we found the land of the storm God Makea, the biggest land that you can imagine, with the biggest birds, the biggest trees, lots of mountains, rivers, lakes, and…a huge white sand place with the most heavenly slopes and shapes that captured and reflected the most amazing colors, with snow capped mountains that took turns at silently smoking…”

“Birds,” interrupted one of Maui’s brothers, “twice the height of men…”

“And trees,” interrupted the other, “so huge that a war canoe can be built out of just one of them that would easily fit one hundred warriors or more…”

Inia ran to embrace them. “They were the perfect sailors Inia,” Maui put Mahuika down, “you can be very proud of your sons…”

They beamed up at their older brother.

“But!” Maui turned back to Tama but made sure that everyone else heard, “we did not find Makea…”

A polite ‘aaawww’ went around the crowd.

“But!” Kupe addressed Maui but also made sure everyone else heard, “Makea travels, he stayed here with us, for many full moons…but his place, is the biggest place, so huge, you can fit our whole island, in one of it’s lakes…”

“That’s an exaggeration,” still Maui looked proud as he added, “but yes, almost…”

But Kupe would not be silenced. “And, it’s at the end of the Southwest of the setting sun course that Maui’s mother, who knew Makea better than anyone, told Maui about…”

“Alright everyone,” their chief Muri interrupted, “let’s all go to the square and continue talking about the wonderful trip to Makea’s amazing land…”

“The trip there was not all wonderful,” Kupe continued while indicating their extra boatman, but Maui interrupted, “oh yes,” and taking Paehia to their Chief added, “we found Paehia,” he looked at Kupe and his brothers, “stranded on an island, on our way…and he’s been very helpful to us, a competent sailor and explorer…”

Kupe and his brothers grinned; only Maui knew that Paehia was a Te Atuaan, but they knew that Maui did not want to say in front of the children in the tribe, that their latest crew member had been rescued from being barbequed…

As they made their way towards the village square, Muri gave further orders for a banquet to be prepared.

At the square, Muri indicated for someone to bring a high chair for Maui, but Maui noticed, and crossing one foot over another, sank to the ground before the chair got to him. He no longer minded crowds, but he still didn’t like any extra attention drawn to him. So Tama also sank to the ground beside his foster son, and Muri then indicated the chair be taken away. Mahuika sat on Maui’s other side.

Maui looked around at his people. The people he had always avoided before.

Musical instruments were being played.

His brothers were boasting about their adventures to their father and friends.

Kupe and Amira were cuddling their newborn child between them.

Paehia and Terita were getting to know each other.

Kiri was laughing happily and dancing with some of her lady friends.

Muri and Manaia were discussing important tribal matters together.

The sun was setting, flares were being lit, children were playing, a soft sea-breeze gently swayed the palms – everyone, including the elements, it seemed, was content and for the first time in his life, so was Maui…

Tama smiled at his foster son. They had never attended village gatherings together before, he had, but hadn’t wanted to force the younger Maui, but this, they both knew, was yet a new chapter in their history. The half God and his men had sailed further than anyone else in their tribe before. A long time ago, people had travelled here, from Bora Bora, it was believed, and before that, from a large land to the east, but nothing else as grand, until now…and apparently, they’d found the gigantic land of the storm God…”I am so very proud of you, Maui…just sad that you did not find your father…”

“But I did,” Maui took Tama’s hand in his, “sitting in a tiny boat surrounded by the large sea made me realize, I never lost you, my father…”

Later, with the sounds of partying behind them, as Maui and Mahuika were going up their mountain, nearing his hammock, Mahuika suddenly stopped. He looked back at her. “Something wrong?”

“You seem different, Maui…nicer, gentler…”

Maui nodded. “Although following the course my mother told me to do, and using the skills I learned from Kupe and you, when surrounded by just water for days on end, with brothers and friends to worry about, I was plagued with uncertainties anyway; so yes, I am more appreciative, than I was…”

She didn’t respond. In the moonlight, he could see her quite plainly. She looked uncertain. As if wondering if she liked this version of the half God.

“Well,” he swallowed, “following my mother’s instructions, I found my father’s home…an amazing gigantic place like that, could only be the home of a God…plenty of food and water, but…it lacked warmth. We get cool periods, occasionally even a little snow on our highest peaks, but Makea’s place, despite the continual volcanic activity, gave me the impression that it always lacked real heat…a place where an unfeeling God would live…that’s when I realized, unlike my father, I do have feelings…” his voice broke, “and I don’t need…a father like Makea…”

She remained silent.

He felt uncertain. “Don’t you like the new me?”

“I’m not sure.” She moved closer to him, peered at his face in the moonlight. “I’m still trying to decide…”

But she had obviously kept living in the village, instead of returning to her place and people, had waited for him. He really appreciated that. He swooped her up into his arms. “Doesn’t mean I’ve lost my stamina and strength, if that’s what you’re concerned about,” and carried her to their hammock.

The journey must have mentally exhausted Maui because he’d always been a light sleeper, who also, seemed to be ‘tuned-in’ to everything that happened around him regardless – so imagine his surprise when he woke the next morning, to be surrounded by some of his people. Muri, Maui briefly wondered how the old man managed to waddle up the old path, his brothers, their father Inia, Tama, Manaia, Kupe, Paehia, and a few other noble men of their community…

“What…” Maui blinked as he rolled out of his hammock, even Mahuika stirred, she usually slept until well after he’d risen, “what” he fumbled with his loin cloth as he tried to dress, “is..is…everything alright?”

Even Mahuika pulled their blanket over herself Maui noticed, the usually immodest girl felt embarrassed waking up to find that they were surrounded by their leading men…

Muri smiled and approached his grandson. “We,” he indicated the others, “had a lengthy discussion after you retired last night, and…we’ve decided that we’d like to migrate to Makea’s large land…”

Maui was putting his head band in place, and hesitated a moment as if wondering if he’d heard correctly, “Eh?”

Tama went to Muri’s side. “You heard him, Maui…”

Maui gulped. “It’s just…this is just…so unexpected!?!”

“Your brothers say the place is so large and lush, it would feed us forever, halve the amount of time we spend hunting…they say one bird would feed the whole tribe, just one bird…”

Maui looked at the boys he’d worried about bringing back safely home.

They beamed. “And no-one else knows about it,” one added excitedly, “we’ll never be attacked again…”

“And your father,” added the other, “lived with us for a while, so now we’ll live with him…he travels, we know that, but when home, would surely protect us, even if other people do eventually…find us…and his place…”

Maui shook his head, even though it was making sense to him also. He groaned. “We were lucky that we had good weather all the way and back, this time. But it’s a long way from here, on the other side of the ocean. We’d have to stock up on food for a lot of people, and waves…” he was about to say waves get in their boats while fishing nearby, bigger deep sea waves could flood and capsize them, when Mahuika, as if having read his mind interrupted, “we’d have to build larger boats, in the style of ours, with smaller canoes attached on either side, to help prevent capsizing, balance,” she smiled at Maui, “against the larger, deep sea waves…”

Her enthusiasm was contagious. Tama added, “And like your hanging boat homes Mahuika, with shelters…”

“And other shelters for storage,” she replied.

Muri looked at Mahuika. “Think Kapua would mind?”

“My father lives where he lives in respect for you, Muri,” was Mahuika’s reply, “he would love to move to a better place, with his brother…”

Muri and Tama looked at each other and smiled.

The other men cheered, the younger brothers, most of all…

And even Maui, who was enjoying having his feet on their land after so long at sea, found himself smiling at the thought…

****** ****** ******

So it came to pass, because of the enthusiasm of finding a God’s larger, and lush land with plenty of fresh water rivers and lakes, the twin brothers Muri and Kapua, although no longer enemies, were truly reunited and together, they organized their people on a grand project - to build a fleet of larger, catamaran styled boats with shelters – everyone was happy at the thought of living in a large land of plenty – a land of an almighty God, whose half mortal son, knew how to take them there.

Although Kapua and his people had managed to build boats on their tempestuous harbor, it was agreed it would be easier and quicker to build them in Muri’s larger, sheltered cove inlet, so temporary shelters were added to the main village to accommodate Kapua and his people. The enthusiasm for the prospect, especially after having been brutally attacked recently, had both peoples excitingly making friends with each other, there was no envy or jealousies regarding who were superior – obviously, Kapua’s people had had no choice but to build boats more suitable to their environment, but Muri’s people had the half God who had taken his friend and brothers to his immortal father’s place, so instant and lifelong friendships were made, while preparing for their great migration.

One day, while looking for Kupe, Maui knocked on his door – there was no answer, but the door moved inward to his touch, so he opened it wider, calling Kupe’s name. The house seemed empty. Maui was about to leave again when he heard a baby cry. Looking back into the house, he noticed a cradle hanging from the ceiling. He decided to check on the child, to make sure it was alright. The baby, upon noticing the strange man peering down at it, stopped crying, and looked up at him, as if it was studying the man. The younger Maui would have backed out of the house, once realizing that the babe was alright, but the older Maui hesitated, looked closer, and smiled at the child. Even mumbled a few ‘goo-goos’ and ‘gaa-gaas’, and the child squealed with delight.

“She should have been our child, Maui,” Amira entered the door and moved towards, him, voice louder, “she should have been yours!”

“Shhhh Amira,” Maui backed from her, “your neighbors will hear…”

“I don’t care if the whole village hears,” Amira picked her child up out of the cradle, “because of you, we’re all living lies! You, me, Kupe, and Mahuika, we’re all living lies!”

“No. Kupe loves you!” He tried backing up towards the door. “He always has…”

“And who do you love Maui?” She moved closer to him, blinked up into his eyes, and whispered, “who do you love…?”

Her long eyelashes, fanning her cheeks, just inches from his face, his legs seemed to lose their strength beneath him. He groaned. Why can’t he forget about this woman? They were juveniles when they’d first met, inexperienced, did not even know what love was, or so he’d kept telling himself. He had been strong and had stayed away from her. He has a woman he likes and has fun with. Mahuika was exciting, they have a lot in common. Why can’t he stop loving the sweet Amira?

“You…” he whispered back.

She shook as her legs felt as though they were going to give way beneath her.

He had to catch her in his arms, her baby between them, to stop her from falling. “You Amira,” he put his face in her hair, breathed deeply of her intoxicating scent, “I love you…”

And that was the scene Kupe saw when he’d returned home and opened his door.

The bigger man was fuming. He had loved his lifelong, unusual friend. And he had always loved his wife, could not believe his luck when she chose him to be her husband.

Amira, frightened, managed to pull herself from Maui’s embrace and ran to the far end of their home, clutching her child to her breast.

Kupe lunged at his friend. Maui deftly stepped aside, avoiding contact. Kupe was so mad; he took another shot. But after two full seasons of the wild Mahuika’s punches, with a hand, Maui swiftly caught Kupe’s fist in his, and the smaller man managed to hold it. Kupe blinked in surprise, his face twisting from intense anger to acute heartache. He slumped to the floor.

“I’m sorry Kupe,” Maui started, “I’m so sorry…”

“Just get out of my house Maui,” Kupe snarled without looking up, “stay away from my wife and child…you are not welcome here!”

“Kupe…?!?”

“I should have known, I’ve seen the way my own sister acts around you…all the women are fascinated by the half God, and I was so proud to be known as your best friend…we are no longer friends Maui, now get out of my house, and don’t come back…ever!”

So it was, that Maui kept away from the villagers again, like he used to – they had heard what happened, if some did not, news went around about the best friend’s dispute before he’d even taken a few steps from Kupe’s door. Mahuika too, felt betrayed, and the proud girl avoided the man who had broken two women’s hearts.

As the villages concentrated on building their migration boats, Maui worked on his quietly, at the very end of their little beach near the outlet to the ocean – he had returned to being the serious and sullen person he was before the attack on their place. Paehia, feeling ever indebted to the man who had saved him, was now Maui’s best friend. He also, was quiet – he had a new life, with a new tribe, he and Terita were seriously considering marriage, and he didn’t want his new people to find out about his background, that he was once an enemy of theirs. Not that he had to worry about that, for Maui was the only one who knew…they had something in common…they were both a bit different…but they had been accepted by the tribe, albeit, Maui was the Chief’s grandson, and Paehia was Maui’s friend…

One day while most of the others were having a break, and Maui was still lovingly working on his boat, Terita approached him.

“I’m sorry to hear about you and Kupe, you two were so close…”

Maui smiled at her. She had a calming way about herself, not intently passionate like Amira, not wildly exciting like Mahuika, just pleasantly tranquil. ”I…” Maui started, “Kupe has every right to be angry…another man would have killed me, and I…would have deserved it…”

Terita knew that Mahuika had also been hurt and had stopped seeing Maui. “Perhaps you should marry, my brother might be more inclined to forgive you, if he thought that you were no longer a threat to his own marriage…”

Realization dawned on Maui. She was interested. He had to admit; he’d always thought she was pretty, and nice, but then he’d met the sensual, beguiling Amira and any possible romantic thoughts towards Terita had evaporated. Now, he actually considered the possibility.

And she helped him. “You missed out on your first opportunity,” she whispered.

He nodded. He had destroyed true love with Amira. He had lost a torrid affair with Mahuika. Perhaps the sweet Terita was just what he needed. “I doubt Kupe would approve…besides, I…I thought you and Paehia were…?” He hesitated, he had no idea if they were an item, or not…

There were no seductive fluttering of the eyelashes or caressing of his chest, and there were no expletives or punching. Simply and sedately, she answered, “I will marry who I want to, without my brother’s consent…and yes, Paehia is definitely interested. I just want you to know that if you join my wedding circle, it is you, Maui, that I will choose…”

Maui groaned. He had lost his best friend because he didn’t turn up at Amira’s wedding dance. Now, he will lose the only other real friend he has ever had, if he did turn up at Terita’s wedding dance. But he also argued with himself, surely having a lifelong female partner is better than having a lifelong male friend. But he was unsure. Life seemed so simple and straightforward as a child. Why was the life of an adult always so full of ironies and complexities…trying to achieve one’s lifelong goals while hormones were arguing that humans must mate and sire instead…

Wedding circles were usually conducted on full moon nights. The next full moon was in a couple of days. “When is your…?”

She knew he was having trouble deciding. She nodded. “Two days time…”

He gulped. She noticed. She looked pained but managed to turn from him and started for the village. “I hope you make it, Maui…”

A couple of nights later, he was rocking in his hammock, watching the sun set. He refused to think of Terita. He thought of his journey with Kupe and his brothers, sailing off southwest of the setting sun. He still refused to think of Terita and her imminent wedding dance. The moon started rising. He thought of the day he rescued Paehia from being cooked, he still refused to think of Terita. He thought of the rising rock causing the sky to turn red soon before they literally sailed straight into Makea’s huge home, he still refused to think of Terita and her wedding dance. The white bird friend he’d had since an adolescent, flew into his tree above him and looked down at him. Seriously. As if reproaching him for not going to Terita. Then someone blew the Conche call…the commencement of the event. ”OK!” he cried up to the bird above him, leapt from his hammock and ran all the way down his mountain, the bird flying above him for some of the way, and he slid into place, just in time...

At first, Kupe had looked angry when he’d turned up. But during the wedding dinner, Kupe made his way towards the couple and congratulated them, kissed his sister on her forehead, and nodded his approval to Maui. Albeit unsmilingly, but both knew that this was hopefully a first step to their reconciliation.

And later, as the couple were being escorted to the newly made bride’s house as was the custom, Paehia also, wished them well, with a smile on his face. Later, Paehia told him that Terita had informed all who had sat in her circle that if Maui turned up, she would choose him. Which was a nice thing to do, added Paehia, giving them a chance to change their minds about joining her circle, and Maui agreed with him, but inwardly thought to himself that once again, he had underestimated someone – he grinned to himself. He wouldn’t have turned up, unless she reminded him of how he had missed out and messed up once before. Even the sweetest of females were not to be taken for granted. But he was happy that she had put the thought in his mind, and he had responded. She was just what he needed, and he treated her better than he had ever treated Amira, Mahuika, or anyone, before. And once again, the tribe was happy that their half God was happy, and they all looked forward to the next adventure in their lives, that would become known as, the great migration to the gigantic land of the Storm God.

But one more occurrence was to happen, before their departure…

All the boats were almost completed and ready. The people were now packing their most prized possessions, they couldn’t take everything, and gathering food and filling water gourds. Terita and Maui were working on their boat, both unhurried, both tenderly, making sure every inch was waterproofed and perfect. Sneaking glances at each other from time to time, grins getting bigger, until he grabbed her hand, and they slipped away into some undergrowth – there was no time to get to their home, besides, they’d have to pass all other workers, to do so. The others would have just laughed, and good naturedly tease the newlyweds, but both, did not like drawing attention to themselves – they had that in common – he’d find out that they had a lot in common - they’d both prefer to avoid crowds, when able and not causing anyone offense, they both enjoyed solitude, wandering around on their own, even at night, and she loved the white bird that sometimes followed them just as much as he did, and Maui could not stop telling himself how lucky he was…he had found a female version of himself…

But one day as they were wandering around, nearing the top of the mountain, Maui, who knew every inch and every normality, noticed that the usual steaming at the crater was more intense than usual, while the normally noisy birdlife was silent, too silent - in fact, the place was completely devoid of birds. Telling Terita to wait where she was, he cautiously, not knowing what to expect, walked, crawled, and pulled himself closer to the top like he used to as a child – did the ground shake? He peered over the side of the crater, and gasped. The crater was bubbling and started throwing red fiery spurts and rocks into the air, similarly to what he’d witnessed at his father’s land – which meant, if similar to his father’s land, could be the beginnings of an eruption, the likes of which they’d never seen, in this land, to date...sometimes little shakes, and sometimes a little smoking, but not an actual eruption…

He ran, slipped, and slid, back to Terita. “Come on, we must warn the people…”

It took most of the rest of the day to get back to the village.

Tama, pointing to the now rumbling volcano above them, was already running around the village, alerting the people. Maui was glad, Tama was always the first to notice something, and he was yelling at them to get to their boats and start sailing.

Telling Terita to put the things they’d decided they’d need on their journey in their boat, Maui went to help his grandparents – they were to sail with Inia and Maui’s brothers, in the very next boat to Maui’s, and as he was helping Muri into Inia’s boat, Kiri had already deftly pulled herself in, he noticed that the organized Terita had already put their things in their own boat and was waiting for him. He was about to go to her, when a crazed Mahuika suddenly appeared, pulled at Maui, yelling, she had a sister and a mother at their old rocky place, who did not want to live in the village, which they had to save – Terita shook her head at Maui, but Maui told his brothers to help their grandparents get comfortable in their boat, turned, and ran, Mahuika close behind him.

Kapua, whose boat was next to Muri’s called out “Noooo!” to them, Maui glanced back at him, but Mahuika ignored him and continued, so Maui felt as though he had no choice but to run after the girl.

They took off overland, the way Maui used when spying on them, it was shorter and quicker than sailing around the land that stretched out to the west before coming back to the northern rocky cliffs.

“You never mentioned a sister and mother,” Maui managed to say as they ran.

“They preferred to remain here…and I…dad and I were prepared to let them, but Maui, I’m not prepared to let them possibly be killed by a volcano, we have to save them…”

When they reached what the rock people had all referred to as Maui’s clifftop, because the boy Maui had peered down at them from there regularly, it was starting to get dark. Maui looked around. The old hanging dwellings were in darkness. “Where?”

Mahuika pointed, “in the cave below…”

Maui didn’t even try to find the rope vine. When a wave came crashing in, he dove into it. By the time Mahuika had found the rope and climbed down, Maui was already searching the cave. It was silent. It went in for quite a while, below what had been his spying place above.

Mahuika pushed passed him, into a larger cavern, calling as she went, “mother, Awhia, where are you?”

When someone seemingly appeared out of nowhere – in the dark cave, an old skull seemed to shine brightly white in contrast - with tufts of messy dark hair seemingly clinging to the skull by a few stubborn dreadlock strands,

“Maui!” Mahuika was shouting at him, “help my mother!” She put the old crone’s hand into his. “I’ll look for my sister…” after which, she disappeared further into the cave.

“Angaur…” the old crone touched his face; he tried not to wince as he kept an eye on her bony fingers.

He was not used to anybody touching him. People were not sure if they were even allowed to touch the half God. And he was not used to anyone on this island not knowing about him. “I’m…Maui…”

She put her arms around him, her cheek on his chest. “I knew you’d come back Angaur, I knew it…”

But Maui was in for a worse shock. The girl that Mahuika was bringing back with her, had fair skin, fair hair, and…blue ‘sky’ eyes…

His legs lost their strength beneath him. He felt himself fall towards the ground as unconsciousness overwhelmed him.

“Maui…” someone was calling him – was it his mother? His mother was smiling at him, kissing him – but when he reached out to her, she turned from him, and walked away, disappearing into the trees, towards the village, without looking back - leaving him behind with Tama…

“Maui!” This woman was shouting. Angry. Not his mother. “Maui! We don’t have time for this nonsense! Now get up!”

He blinked at the fair girl as Mahuika helped him up. “Is she…is she my sister?”

“No! I told you! She’s my sister! Now let’s get out of here!”

There was water in the larger cavern. It was steaming. Not cool mist, warm steam. With bubbles starting to arise from the bottom. That bought Maui back to his senses. He nodded and started guiding the women towards the entrance.

But the conversation between Mahuika and Maui had also brought the crone back to her senses. Sort of. “Not Angaur, you’re his boss, Makea…” she said, then stepped into the now boiling water.

“Noooo!” Mahuika reached out, Maui grabbed her and held her back. Mahuika was shuddering in shock. Maui held her, tightly, for a moment - but he knew they were running out of time. “We have to go, Mahuika,” he could still see the old woman in the water, her eyes staring blindly up at them, “we have to leave…now!”

She shook her head. Awhia grabbed one of Mahuika’s hands. “Come on Mahuika,” the sister coaxed. “Mama hasn’t been well for a long time…she’s out of her misery, at last...”

“A very long time,” Mahuika explained to Maui as they made for the entrance, “ever since Angaur…” she looked at Maui, “and your father left…soon after, Awhia was born. My father never forgave her…she was older than him, but very beautiful and at first felt so proud to have a young Chief attracted to her. But after the discrepancy between father and Muri, and father had been exiled, she hated this place and roamed the land this side of your mountain to keep from being seen by your people, but she bumped into Angaur anyway…she was never the same again after he left…hardly went out of the cave, hardly ate…I even had to find a wetnurse for Awhia…if a mother doesn’t eat enough, she produces no milk. And later, no matter what we sisters said, or did to try to help, she wasn’t interested in living…and dad didn’t mind them being mostly in the cave, they were like an embarrassment to him…Awhia always reminded him of his wife’s lover…he forbade them to appear whenever you visited…we all obeyed our father, including me, until now,” she looked at her sister, “I know you’re good at fishing and chose to remain here, look after mother, but when the mountain started erupting, I panicked…and realized, I couldn’t leave you behind…”

Awhia just smiled, then hugged her sister.

“Except…” Maui was helping them up the rope, Mahuika first, “before meeting you, I did see your sister once, with you…”

Silence for a moment, as they concentrated on climbing the wet rope on a wet cliff…

“I know…” Mahuika was pulling herself onto the clifftop ledge, “that was when the tide was out, and I was helping her get some exercise and fresh air – Mama had already retired…”

That’s when they noticed, Awhia was not following. They looked back down over the ledge.

Awhia waved up at them. “I’m sorry, thank you for loving me Mahuika, but…I know nothing of the outside world…I was treated like a freak here, but I found comfort in our cave…I will be treated even more like some kind of a monster, out there…” then she disappeared back into the cave.

Mahuika tried to get to the rope to go down after her sister, but Maui grabbed her, pushed her away. “I’ll go!”

The water wasn’t high enough for him to dive into. He didn’t wait for a returning wave, and half climbed half slid down the rope.

“Awhia!” Maui called as he entered the cave, “your sister could have saved herself. She’s risking her own life, to save you too…”

She peered around a crevice in the cave wall, but did not approach him, or reply.

“I look different too, Awhia, which can be depressing. But they also respect me as a God, Awhia, and they will you too…we are children of the Gods, you and I…”

She held her hand out to him, and with a sigh of relief, he took it. “Good girl. We have to help our mortal people, flee to safety…” But this time, he made sure he went up the rope behind her.

But they didn’t get to the village. They were almost there, when suddenly, dark shapes were in front of them, blocking their way.

“We want Mahuika!” That was Manaia’s voice. Maui was startled. Manaia was their chief warrior, and as such had earned the right to be one of their leaders; still, Maui was their main chief’s grandson, and known as the half God; that alone, usually made others wary of him, even fearful. He’d just told Awhia that. But Manaia and his men were so intent on their purpose, that they hadn’t noticed that the sister was pale. Maui presumed it was because of the darkness.

“She’s here, now we can all leave…” was Maui’s rather confused reply.

Two others were behind Manaia, they moved on either side of him as he continued, “Mahuika is the beautiful woman of the mountain. She must be sacrificed to appease her angry mountain, to save the rest of the tribe. Then we won’t have to flee our home, until we’re completely ready to…!”

Maui made as if to move around Manaia and his men. “We’re ready enough! Reluctant people will always find an excuse not to leave the home they love and know. Not to leave their ancestors in their graves. We have depleted a lot of this island of its resources to feed us. This volcano,” Maui used his head to indicate the burning inferno above them, “is our ancestors telling us it’s time to go, get out now!”

But Manaia placed himself in front of Maui. Maui moved so fast, that no-one was sure what he had done until he had done it. He’d kicked the man on Manaia’s right where it hurt most, and as he bent forward in pain, shoved him into Manaia with such force that Manaia went into the man on his left and before they all realized what had happened, they were all on the ground. Maui made as if to continue, then noticed Mahuika was not following him and Awhia.

“Come on!” He called her.

The man that had been on Manaia’s left was rising already. Mahuika punched him, and he fell back down on the ground.

She looked at Maui and shook her head. “They’re right, Maui…I come from a long line of Mahuikas…the first one threw herself into the volcano to appease it, to stop it, and…it worked…mother Mahuikas have been telling their daughter Mahuikas that…that’s what we women of the bowels of the mountain do…”

Maui groaned. First her mother, then her sister, now Mahuika was reluctant to leave, and not making any sense. “We’ve wasted enough time already because…” he couldn’t finish, ‘because of her family’. From where they were, they could see that some of the boats, including her father’s, had not waited. “Even your father was not hanging around to save them. He knew they wouldn’t leave. But you Mahuika, you have lived with us for some time. You are one of us, now. You helped teach us how to make bigger, better boats. Because of you, we can go to a bigger, better place. So big that if one of its many volcanos did erupt, we wouldn’t have to flee the land. The vicinity, but not the land. That’s how huge it is. Now come on!”

Manaia was still on the ground. He had been about to jump up and keep fighting. But the woman agreed with him. He looked at Maui. “Even she knows that’s what she must do, Maui…”

“I really loved you, Maui…” Mahuika started running, but not towards Maui, up the mountain. Maui ran after her. Running around the mountain his whole life, he was fast. He caught her. She tried to fight him off. They had fought before. Theirs had never been a tender affair. Growing up on her wild terrain, had made her strong. Summoning all his strength, he punched her as hard as he could. She fainted. He caught her in his arms and started running back to the village, Awhia also, managing to keep up. Maui glanced at the girl who had also been fathered by a God. She came from a rocky domain and like her sister Mahuika, she also, was fast and strong. Manaia and his men chased them, and although Maui was carrying Mahuika, they could not catch them.

When they got to the boats, most had left. Kupe knew which way to go, he knew the course to take, and when to leave. And thankfully, most followed him. They were more afraid of the erupting place that had been their home, than any uncertainties of what lay before them in the vast ocean. It was not completely dark yet, and their sails could be seen in the distance. They would all follow the boats that had already set sail. Inia’s boat still waited, of course, Muri, Kiri and Inia’s sons were Maui’s relatives, and they insisted that they weren’t leaving until they knew that Maui had returned safely. Paehia still waited as well, he also, was not going to leave without the man who had saved him. The people on these boats cheered with relief when they saw Maui returning with two women. The only other boats still waiting were his own and Manaia’s. Terita and Tama on Maui’s boat still waited, calmly, Maui noticed, not impatiently, but that was her, and his way, and he loved that about them. But right now, he couldn’t think about them. He had Manaia and two of his men not far behind him, and others coming down off his boat in front of him. Paehia saw what was happening, and clutching a vine rope, jumped overboard and slid onto the ground, reaching Maui before Manaia and his men did. Maui shoved Mahuika into Paehia’s arms, ordering him to get back in his boat, and launch immediately, with the sisters. Under the circumstances, there was no time to wonder about the pale sister. Others on Paehia’s boat commenced shoving off with their long paddles, while some thew ropes at him, moved onto the side where he went to climb, making that side of the boat go down further than the other side and reaching down, pulled Paehia and Mahuika into their boat just in time, out of Manaia’s men’s grasp. Awhia was reaching up, but they could no longer reach her. Nor, were they going to risk Manaia’s men climb aboard - they were on their way out of the cove.

Pointing at Terita, Maui yelled for Awhia to run to his own boat. Unfortunately for himself, he knew he did not have enough time to get to his boat. He turned to face Manaia and his men. There were at least twelve of them. They were all some of the best tribal warriors. Maui couldn’t believe he had knocked Manaia and two of his men to the ground earlier. Now he had a larger group approaching him. Terita, Awhia and Tama were watching uncertainly. Uncertainly being the optimal word. But he would defend them with his life, for as long as he could.

Perhaps after finding himself with two of his best warriors on the ground earlier had unnerved Manaia. Perhaps after seeing Mahuika being whisked away just in time by Paehia made him stop. No-one knew anything about Paehia, except that he was Maui’s friend and after seeing how both men had rescued the girl who didn’t want to be rescued, made him suspect that the half God and his friend may truly, be superior beings. Or perhaps because Muri demanded he leave his grandson alone, perhaps it was because Tama stood up in Maui’s canoe. He was not young, but he was still a powerful looking man. He was once the head warrior. He was the head doctor. Manaia surprised Muri, Kiri, Inia, the brothers, Tama, Maui, Terita, Awhia, and his own men, by saying, “OK men, she’s gone,” and reluctantly turning to his own boat added, “let’s go…”

Thinking that the problem was over, Inia’s boat took off. They did not want to lose sight of the other boats already far away, before them.

Maui sighed with relief and climbed into his own boat, and introduced Awhia to Tama and Terita adding, “thanks for waiting…”

“I’ve waited for you my whole life,” Terita pushed their boat off with a long paddle, “I’m not going to stop now…”

Maui smiled back at her. “I’m glad…”

She smiled back at him. “Me too…”

Without a word, Tama sat back down again. Awhia sat beside him and put her head on his shoulder. “Good to see you, Tama…”

Tama smiled and put his arm around her. Maui groaned. But he should have known that Tama knew everything that happened on their island, and everyone...

They hardly got out of the cove though, when seemingly fountains of grey rolling smoke started racing down the mountainside. They paddled as fast as they could and hoisted the sale.

They heard a screech above them, Maui’s white bird seemed agitated. They presumed it was because of the volcano. Maui tried to coax it into their boat.

“Manaia…” Terita started, “Manaia’s still back there…”

“Good!” Was Maui’s unforgiving reaction.

“Something’s wrong Maui, we’ve got to go back to help them…”

“They wanted to kill Mahuika, Terita, so much so that they were willing to fight me for her! We’re not going to help people like that…”

Terita looked back, then gasped. Manaia’s larger boat of several rowers and two sails were making straight for them. The bird above them was flapping wildly.

Maui’s was the smallest in the fleet. Before marrying Terita, he had made it for just Tama and him, whereas the seven other bigger boats, had families, and Paehia’s had the few people who like him, had no one. Still relatives of the tribe of course, but those who were sole survivors, of their immediate families. He swore. Even if they zig zagged, they would be easily mowed down by the swiftly on-coming larger boat. And Paehia’s and Muri’s boats were already far away in front, believing that the problem was over, ignorant of what was happening behind them.

“Do something Maui,” was Tama’s quiet but demanding command.

“What?” Was Maui’s confused answer.

“You heard me,” Tama looked at his foster son, “you are the son of a God! It’s time you started acting like one…”

“I…I…” Maui started, but Tama was intently looking at the mountain top.

Maui looked at it too. Manaia’s boat was coming at them fast. They were so close that Maui could clearly see their faces looking at him with hateful eyes. “Oh Makea, if you are looking down at your son, please help me now…”

The white bird squawked alarmingly.

Maui pointed at the mountain top, hoping to take Manaia’s and his people’s attention from them. They did look behind, to see what Maui was pointing at, just as the mountain top burst, sending fire high into the sky and parts of the mountain flew apart in all directions. At the same time, the island seemed to shake - so did the water – Manaia’s people were mesmerized by the phenomenon, and their attention was taken from Maui – Maui immediately guided his boat out of the path of Manaia’s momentarily unguided larger one – just in time, as a wave lifted Manaia’s boat and as it crashed down again, Manaia’s boat was forced to flow past Maui’s boat – the wave pushed Maui’s boat also, but as it was no longer in front of Manaia’s boat, there was no contact – and the larger boat was now in front of Maui’s – and because they had witnessed, when Maui pointed and the top of the mountain exploded, they thought that he had caused it, and immediately lost interest in trying to crash and sink the smaller boat of the magical half God.

Tama smiled as if he had never doubted Maui’s power. The normally composed Terita cheered and threw her arms around her husband. Maui gulped. Did he indeed have such power? He had simply pointed; to temporarily take Manaia’s people’s attention from them so he could get his boat out of the way of the larger one. Had he indeed caused the mountain to explode, the island and water to shake? He doubted it, thought it just coincidence that the mountain exploded when he pointed at it. It was probably going to do that anyway. Or was Makea actually watching his son? He hugged his wife close, as he searched the sky. Apart from the fiery mountain, it was very dark now, and the stars seemed brighter than usual. The white bird was still up there. Maui watched it. It watched back, circled a few times as if to make sure there were no further dangers to be concerned about, then flew down and alighted gently on the side of his boat. After their ordeal, the others were tired and dozing. Maui looked at his feathered friend and it looked back just as intently, and Maui imagined, gratefully? Maui had always doubted that he was immortal, that just like the white bird he befriended, they were just lighter in contrast to the rest of their species. Now, finally, he suspected that there just might be some powers he had but knew nothing about. He looked at the pale girl now sleeping in Tama’s arms. He looked at his feathered friend, who was also lighter than its kind. He looked at Tama, and as if Tama knew what Maui was thinking, beamed proudly and nodded.

CHAPTER SEVEN

MAUI THE HALF GOD

While at sea, the bird was often seen on Maui’s shoulder, as he sailed around the fleet to make sure that everyone was alright. This was more convincing to the people that he actually was the half God. He avoided Manaia’s boat, and Manaia also, kept away from the fleet, just keeping close enough to not lose sight of the voyaging boats. He knew that he was no longer welcome. But he did not admit that he was at fault. Mahuika, had offered to be sacrificed – she believed that it was a great honor to save her people – the people did not believe that death was the end, they believed that this mortal existence was just a temporary step to a better place, and Manaia refused to repent. He hoped that they’d remember and forgive before they reached their destiny. If not, Manaia knew that he and his people will have to live as far away as the rest as possible and hoped that the new land really was as huge as they’d been told that it was.

Apart from that, and the predictable “I’m tired,” “I’m hungry,” “How much further?’ complaints, there were no major concerns on their journey.

They passed the place where Maui had rescued Paehia. No woman or boy appeared on the ridge. Maui assumed that theirs was too large a convoy for the despicable pair. They may even be dead. The rock was on the end of a few reefs and not many people had ventured much further than that before, according to Paehia.

They rested on the Paradisiacal Island – now that Maui was married, to Kupe’s own sister, he and Kupe rekindled their friendship and along with Paehia, happily discussed their previous rest stops on the beautiful place. This made the tired people enthusiastic again. They joked that they wouldn’t mind settling there, not realizing at the time that soon after the end of their journey, some actually would return to do so.

And soon after, they were in front of the great land that spread out as far as the eye could see and that literally prevented them from sailing any further. The vast land of the storm God. They gasped. It was mystically covered in clouds and was immediately named so by Kupe’s wife. Aoteroa. Land of the clouds.

For a while, the people immediately commenced building shelters and were happy to be in a place of plenty. For a while.

Some, including Kupe, realized that the place was colder than what they were used to, and would one day return to the Paradisiacal island northeast of the place and for a while, it was even named Kupe’s return place. For a while, Maui seemed happy with his new wife, and new life, but he spent most of it watching and waiting for his father to appear. Disappointment turned into frustration and finally unsettled and despite Terita’s begging him not to go, decided to continue looking for his father, and it was while Maui was out sailing, that Terita left with her brother. Even Terita had realized that she had run out of patience. Maui did not blame her and never went after her. Nor did he share his life on a permanent basis with a woman since then. He knew that no wife would like a lonely life on their own while their husband, just like Makea, was never home.

Tama informed Muri about Manaia’s attempt at running them down after the rest of the fleet had set off. Manaia knew that the Chief was not going to forgive him for attempting to kill his half God grandson, so explored the place with his people and settled as far away from the tribe as possible – he realized that the tribe were afraid of the great white desert with three great volcanos – not only because it seemed dangerous, but also because they presumed that that was the home base of the storm God, so it was revered as a sacred place – so Manaia, who had never been a fearful sort, took his people to the opposite side of the great lake and desert and to his delight, discovered another land of plenty on the far west of the place. The only tribe that resided in the west for a very long time. But they were never forgotten, or forgiven and for generations, were considered the enemy of the larger tribe that with time spread out across the mid-eastern and later north eastern side of the new land, south of what would become known as Hawkes Bay was considered too cold, for a while – sub tribes would later settle Wairarapa and later, even the south of the north island and even the south of the south island – with time, they were getting used to the colder climate…

But for a long time, the main tribes were those at the Bay of Plenty, where the boats had literally bumped into the large land, and the smaller tribe on the other side of the desert.

When Maui commenced searching again, Tama and Muri were too old and tired to argue.

Paehia and Mahuika, both adventurous sorts, spent the rest of their lives going to the other islands of their group, to bring more people and their favorite crops like Kumera and Taro, to the new land.

When Maui returned from one of his trips, he told his Te Arawa people (named after Kupe’s boat) of a large impenetrable ice land south, and thought that that might actually be the land of the storm God; however, he told them, that it was definitely nowhere that mere mortals could survive.

Still, the determined Maui, now aging, hoped to find his father before he died and knowing that his father travelled, kept travelling their ocean world.

Since that first great immigration fleet however, or perhaps because of Paehia’s telling others about the new land, others also were attempting to sail further than before, wondering if they would also discover better places to live as well and one day, Maui stopped on a small island when in need of some fresh water.

While showering in a waterfall, he noticed a beautiful young lady watching him. His instincts told him to ignore her, but it had been some time since he’d seen or had a woman, so when she flirtatiously indicated with a finger to follow her, he did…he didn’t get too far though, when a man knifed him in the back – when Maui turned, he faced the grown up scar faced boy of his very first journey – and – he had a grin on his face and ropes in his hands…

Regardless of the back wound, and his mature age, Maui had grown up with a foster father who had been a head warrior when young – Maui had been sent to warrior training and soon after ended up helping the trainers – so with a well-practiced spin and kick, he deftly held his attacker with the attacker’s own rope around his neck and wrapping it, squeezed the rope until the scare-faced man’s eyes were protruding from his head – the girl unfortunately, was also a good fighter and whilst screaming out ‘mother’, gave Maui a few good punches until he was forced to release the man to defend himself from the girl.

Luckily the man was too injured to help and slumped on the ground gasping, but an older woman came running to help her children.

He shoved the girl into the mother which caused them both to lose their balance and, in that moment, jumped on the girl (he heard some bones breaking) whilst kicking out at the mother at the same time. While the three of them were down, he ran to his boat, and pulled the rope he’d entwined around a branch to secure his boat while rolling into it at the same time. The boat was being carried out by a wave and Maui peeked over the side to see that unfortunately, the mother was pulling a boat from its place hidden between plants and was soon following him. ‘Damn!’ He thought, he should have killed them – he hadn’t remembered seeing any boats on that first rock he’d come across her and the boy who was now a man and she’d managed to get some poor guy to impregnate her with a daughter – the poor guy was probably also eaten and she’d kept his, or some other victim’s boat and they’d escaped their rock and had found this, a much better place than their previous one…

But he had a sail and letting it out, his boat sped off just in time out of her reach and she gave up trying to chase him, stood up in her boat, angrily calling, “curse you, you colorless freak, curse you!!!”

The sun was setting. Maui knew that his injury was so bad he would not recover. He could hardly move, let alone tend to it, nor did he have any medicinal plants for some soothing relief, in his boat. Moving alone, was too painful so he lay back in his boat, watching the glorious changing colors of the darkening sky, thinking of his life – a toddler following Tama around, a boy spying on the villagers and the people living in the northern rocks and waves, the lessons from Tama, the warrior training, fishing with Kupe, and the enticing, pretty Amira – he had not married her, because of his determination to find his immortal father which, he’d failed to do…or so he thought…what was happening? He thought he heard voices – so far out in the middle of nowhere? He heard other sounds – sounds from the water which could only be described as sounds from whipping sails in the breeze – sounds of waves parting and pushing – him – a boat was passing him – on his left – he looked over in that direction to see a boat – the biggest boat he’d ever seen, with several sails – and – fair people – pale skin – sailing right past him – ignoring the pain, he pulled himself into sitting position, calling – or trying his best, every sound sent spasms of pains down his back. “Hey! Wait! Hey! Father! Makea! Father! It’s me, Maui…it’s me, father…father…”

But the boat sped past without anyone noticing him in his much smaller one – he tried paddling as well as sailing, but he was in too much pain…somewhere deep down he also knew that he wouldn’t be able to catch up with them…all he could do was watch…

“He has a fast boat, Maui,” his mother had whispered to him, “very fast, and he went South West of the Setting Sun…”

“Oh mother, you were so right,” for the first time in his life he let the tears flow down his face, “you were so right…”

The sun slipped into the horizon. Maui had no idea where he was, but he turned his boat in that south west of the setting sun direction anyway…

Kupe and Paehia were fishing and were about to head for home when they noticed a boat approaching their paradisaical island north east of the new land.

“Looks like Maui’s boat,” Kupe pointed, “but…it looks empty…”

Paehia had already turned their boat and was making towards Maui’s. They pulled up alongside.

Maui was lying in the bottom of the boat. “I saw them, I saw them…”

“Who?” started Kupe, but realization dawned on his face. “You found your father?”

Maui nodded, “just like my mother told me, the biggest, fastest boat, with lots of sails and they were all there…” and his last words to his best friends were, “pale people, just like me…”

There was a squawk and a fluttering of wings above them, and when they looked up, they saw a bird, a white bird, looking at Maui – surly not Maui’s bird, it would have died several full seasons ago – then it rose, higher and higher, until they could no longer see it…

EPILOGUE

CHILDREN OF THE GODS

When I was a little girl, along with other children, I was taken to ‘the old people’ to learn about our ancestors (we were taught chants, we can chant our ancestor’s names, our lineage) and later, spent many moments speaking with my grandmother – that was how our people ensured that our ancestors, who they were, what they did, and how they lived, were never forgotten.

Forget about what the ‘so-called’ experts say these days about the Maori coming from the east into the Pacific – for decades, only one main tribe, Manaia’s, was on the west of New Zealand and that was to be as far away from the rest of the people as possible. Most of the Maori settled in the East – if most were in the west, coming from the west might be believable, but they were in the East. Also, the Maori speak Tahitian and, the currents of the Pacific go from east to west, and, their favorite crops come from South America, they have only recently been successfully grown elsewhere in the world. The old people even mentioned that before going into the Pacific, they were from a large land to the east. So, for all these reasons, I believe my people.

Seven main ships, plus what was referred to as the smaller ‘sacred ship’ believed to be the ship of the half God, is what is referred to as the first great migration to the new land that Kupe, Maui and Paehia are said to have discovered while looking for Makea who sailed off southwest of the setting sun and never returned…

Maui and his father Makea were fair-skinned, and blond. So was Makea’s crew. And because of that, the people thought that Makea and his crew were Gods. Not only because they were pale, but they also had superior things, including a superior craft. Maui was also referred to as Maui Sky Eyes.

Captain Cook noted that some Maori were pale, had blond or red hair, blue or green eyes, and freckles. Which are not normal Polynesian traits. He also said that the Maori spoke Tahitian.

The people of the first and large fleet settled at what Cook called the Bay of Plenty because he, like the first Maori there, also noticed food in abundance. Naturally, as the land was huge, and wanting to claim their own piece of the territory, some settled north, still in the Bay of Plenty, and a little south, in what is now known as Hawkes Bay.

But Manaia, who had a dispute with the rest over sacrificing Mahuika to cease a volcano, took his people to the other side of the desert. The desert that was believed to be the home base of Makea and his immortal people – the place so large, white yet wondrous, but barren – the place that most believed mortals couldn’t live anyway, the place that most were in awe of, even fearful of. Manaia took advantage of that fact, believing he and his people may be safe from those who stayed away from the desert. He, who had the reputation of being the best warrior, braved the trek between the continuously active volcanoes, to be pleasantly surprised to find what is still considered one of the best places to live in the land, and settled in what is known today, as Taranaki, and his descendants would be known as the formidable Mountain People on the other side of the country, great lake and amazing yet precarious desert.

The people would eventually spread out further north, the Bay of Islands, and subtribes would inhabit the great Waikato river; some would move a little south of Hawkes Bay, whose sub tribes eventually inhabited the Wairarapa area. The far north, was inhabited before the far South – it was generally considered too cold at first, but with time, others eventually spread there as well, including the south island, but it took some time before some grew used to the much colder climate, to do so.

Paehia and Mahuika married, and the two adventurers spent the rest of their lives making several trips between their original group of islands and the new land, taking more people, and the crops that they loved like Kumera and Taro with them.

Tama and Muri died soon after the great migration, but as the heir Maui was still unsettled and travelling, Kapua was finally put in charge of the great Te Arawa nation. But he did not have a son either, so the people’s best warrior, Toi, became the next Chief of the great Te Arawa nation of Rotorua extending to Lake Taupo.

At first Maui waited patiently on the outskirts of the white sacred place for his immortal father to appear. Realizing that he was half mortal, he decided to continue searching their ocean world to find the father who had left him, before dying.

Kupe, Amira, their children and Terita, returned to the paradisiacal island now known as Raratonga to live, famously saying that ‘the land of the Storm God was too cold for him’. Raratonga is referred to as ‘Kupe’s return place’.

Awhia, fascinated by the possibility of meeting her immortal father, decided to live in the desert – others must have followed her, because later, the masters of the desert were called the Awhian; however, other relatives I spoke to recently regarding these desert people, believe that they did not really exist, they were created to keep children from venturing too far into the precarious desert without adult supervision. I was also informed by others, that they believed that they were a sub tribe of the Manaian. I wonder about those two beliefs though, considering the name of the pale girl who chose to live where she believed was the base home of her immortal father, was Awhia (Taranaki accent) Owhia (Te Arawa accent) I say accent because they did not have a written language – patterns (hieroglyphics) in their carvings mainly of ancestors and their occupations, otherwise, no written language. But Maori tribes do have slightly different accents.

The part of this story that is actually a part of my own imagination is the part about the cannibal woman, her scar faced son and daughter. Maui tried returning home but only got to Raratonga seriously injured and died because of his injuries. Obviously, he had an enemy, but no one knows who, so I had to make up that part of this story. Paehia was rescued on a reef from cannibals, no one remembers who by exactly, so I decided to make that the reason for the friendship between him and Maui, and the reason for Maui’s fatal demise. Other relatives say that it could have been Manaia because Maui refused to have Mahuika sacrificed, starting what would be the hatred between the Manaian and the Te Arawa people; but apparently Maui was attacked while at sea, and not while in New Zealand, so I have doubts about that. No-one seems to know how Maui received his fatal injuries. I also decided to write that it was his friends who sighted his boat returning, no-one remembers who did. But, it is known that before dying, he mentioned seeing a large fast ship full of pale people.

The other part that I added was the bird – I felt sad about the boy who avoided people and wandered the island alone. I once had a visiting Cockatiel (who lived in the parkland out front and spent a lot of time on my balcony with me) while living in an apartment alone and learned from that experience that a lonely bird could make attempts at befriending a human that also, lived alone.

Mahuika, would have to be one of the most interesting of characters. There are varying stories about the strong clever woman of the rocks, waves and cavern at the bottom of a mountain. The most known story, being the sister of Tane, known as the son of the two main Gods, but the first mortal man - she took to living underground because of a drastic climatic change caused by Tane. Legend says she was ancient and gave men some helpful hints on surviving the new world in return for non-committal mating. Others suspect that there were generations of Mahuika – daughters named after their mothers – hence the need for non-committal mating. The fact that she was still around to teach Maui’s people how to make catamaran type boats, and that she was the most beautiful woman in the tribe suggests that there must have been generations of Mahuikas and the last one married Paehia. She had the reputation of being strong, known to be cold-hearted cunning and calculating, but she was most famous for knowing about the uses of her precarious domain, including lava flint. I added the ‘old crone’ mother in this story as a possible older Mahuika. I find it difficult to believe that an ancient woman could still be the most beautiful woman of the tribe, even though like most artists and authors, I have an open mind to most possibilities - of course, it could have been another Mahuika entirely, but how many Mahuikas would live in caverns under a volcano with a mother and sister, the younger pale sister Awhia suspected of having also been sired by one of Makea’s crew?

Some believe that Maui was the youngest of his siblings, that his brothers were older than him. But Maui was Muri’s heir, and Taranga married Inia after Makea left. If the brothers were older, they must have died young, for Maui to be the heir of the tribe.

I have even heard that some these days, do not believe that Maui ever existed. However, many people of the Pacific have tales about the clever, small, pale, aloof, sullen, sad ‘sky-eyed’ wanderer of the ocean, in search of his father, the storm God Makea. If it was one tribe, perhaps. Otherwise, that is too much of a coincidence. I choose to believe the Polynesians, and the ‘old people’, whose job it was to ensure that their ancestors were never forgotten.

Well, only the Gods know exactly what happened. We mere mortals, only know what is handed down from the ‘old people’ oh, and a very fascinating grandmother, to listen to. None-the-less, this would have to be one of my favorite stories of our ancestors…

THE END

Now find my other favorite novel, “On the Wings of Birds”, to find out more about the Manaian and Te Arawa enemies, and how after a few decades, they were finally reunited, in the new land, South West of the Setting Sun…

THANK YOU FOR READING MY BOOKS

Fantasy
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About the Creator

TANIKA SMITH WHEATLEY

When I was a child, I would wake up in the night because of nightmares. As time went on, I realized that I was looking forward to my dreams. Now, I write them, among other stories as well.....

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