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Battles with Pe'ape'a

See Also...

Genealogy and Birth
Tries to Join Kaua'i and O'ahu
  Maui's Death
  Gets Fire From 'Alae

Some time after his effort to pull Kaua'i closer to O'ahu failed, Maui and his three brothers went out fishing again at the fishing ground of Ponahakeone, where each of them in turn let down his hook. Each brother caught a shark; Maui, with his famous hook Manaiakalani, caught a moi (threadfish) and a large ulua.

Maui-kupua told his brothers to paddle ashore and directed them to the best landing place. After they landed, he grabbed his hokeo (fishing gear gourd), his paddle, and his two fish and returned home to his mother Hina. He left his hokeo and paddle with her and continued on his way, carrying the fish to the heiau (temple) called Luaehu, because he was supposed to eat the fish there. He began to eat the fish from the head and had almost reached the tail, when, looking up toward Pohakea, he saw Kumulama, his wife, being carried away by the chief Pe'ape'a-maka-walu (Eight-eyed-bat).(a) Maui left the tail of the fish and pursued the bat to get his wife back. But Pe'ape'a-maka-walu was too swift for him and disappeared into the sky beyond the sea.

Realizing he couldn't overtake his enemy, Maui returned to the road, crying over his wife's misfortune. When he arrived again at the heiau, where he had left the fish tail, the fish was gone, having recovered its form and returned to the sea.(b)

Still weeping bitter tears, Maui returned to his mother Hina.

"Why are you crying?" she asked.

"My wife was been stolen by Pe'ape'a-maka-walu."

"You're a swift runner­couldn't you catch him?"

"I chased after him but he flew off," replied Maui.

"Then rest a while. Later, I'll tell you what to do," said Hina.

Still grieving, Maui rested and waited patiently until the next day. At the appointed time he went to his mother, who told him: "Go to the land of Keahumoa; there you'll see a large hut. Your grandfather Ku-olokele (Ku-honeycreeper) lives there, and he'll instruct you on how to recover your wife."

Maui went to Keahumoa and found the hut. He peeped in but no one was inside. He looked at the sweet potato fields on the other side of Pohakea, toward Honouliuli, but couldn't see anyone. He then climbed a hill and after a while saw a man coming toward Waipahu with a load of sweet potato leaves, one bundle of which, it is said, could cover the whole land of Keahumoa.

Kuolokele was crossing into Keahumoa from Waipahu, and as he reached the stream, he put down his load of leaves and went and bathed. Maui saw that he had a humpback.

He picked up a stone and threw it at his grandfather, striking him on the back, whereupon Kuolokele's back was straightened. Kuolokele picked up the stone Maui threw at him, and threw it to Waipahu, where it has remained to this day.

Kuolokele then turned and saw Maui and said to himself, "Oh, there you are." He went back to pick up his load. Putting his arms into the strings of the bundle of leaves and lifting it onto his back, he went and met Maui, his grandchild. Then they both went to the hut, where Kuolokele put down his load and said, "What brings you here?"

"My wife has been stolen away."

"Who took her?"


"Are you very swift? "


"Then go and catch birds for feathers, and gather ki leaves, and 'ie'ie vine and fill that house over there with them."

Maui went to gather all these things together and put them in the house. Then he went back to Kuolokele and said, "Everything is ready."

"Return home, and in three days come again."

"Very well," said Maui and he left.

On the first day, from the bird feathers, ki leaves, and 'ie'ie vines, Kuolokele made the body and wings of a bird. On the second day, he finished the bird and tested it. It flew­the first flying-craft ever in Hawai'i.

On the third day, Maui appeared before Kuolokele. As soon as he arrived, food and water were loaded into the moku-manu ("bird-ship.") Kuolokele told Maui "Fly in this bird until you come to Moanaliha, the land of Pe'ape'amakawalu. When you reach it, look for the village. If the village is deserted, then look toward the sea and you'll see a great number of people gathered there, among whom will be Pe'ape'amakawalu, along with your wife. Fly near them, but not too close, just close enough to attract their notice; then fly far out to sea. On your return the people watching you will shout, 'The bird! The strange bird!' Pe'ape'amakawalu will say, 'Perhaps that's my bird; let's see if it flies to and rests on my sacred box."'

Maui entered the body of the bird, and Kuolokele called out, "Pull the strings fastened to the wings to make the bird fly." Maui pulled the strings and started to fly. He flew for two days and two nights. Arriving at Moanaliha, he looked over the land and noticed that the houses were beautiful, but there were no people. According to an ancient chant:

There stood the houses of Limaloa
There were no inhabitants.
Basking in the sun, the sea, and the smile of chief­
All were at Mana. (c)

And when he looked toward the seashore he saw a crowd gathered there. He flew until he was right over the multitude and saw his wife, Kumulama. He continued flying over the deep ocean. Passing over the small waves and resting on the rolling billows of the sea, he was moistened by the fine sea-spray. Then Maui turned and flew toward land. As he neared the shore, the people exclaimed, "Oh, an enormous bird! An enormous bird!"

Pe'ape'amakawalu said, "Perhaps it's my bird; if it is, it'll land on my sacred box."

Maui heard him and flew and landed on the sacred box. The people shouted excitedly, "The bird's now resting on the sacred box, there it is!" After this, the chief and the people arose and returned to their village.

Arriving at his house, the chief told his attendants to go and bring the bird into the sleeping house. The order was carried out and the chief said, "Give the bird poi and fish." Food was brought to the bird. Maui reached out from the opening of the mouth and took the food inside. After a while more food was brought but the bird's mouth didn't open again, so the attendants concluded that the bird was satisfied. The people then returned to their own houses to eat. Night fell. Pe'ape'amakawalu and Kumulama lay down to sleep. Maui saw his wife lying with the bat, and his anger boiled within him. He wanted to kill Pe'ape'amakawalu right then, but restrained himself, knowing the time was coming when what had been foretold would be fulfilled.

This chief Pe'ape'amakawalu had eight eyes, four in front, and four behind, and that was why he was called "eight eyes." Maui eagerly waited for all eight to close. After a while one of the eyes closed, and seven remained open. He waited until four more closed, and three remained. He continued waiting until almost daylight, when he preyed to Hina: "Hold back the night!" Hina held back the night.

Maui waited patiently until seven eyes closed and one remained open. He kept awake until the last eye closed. Then he emerged from the bird, went to where Pe'ape'amakawalu was sleeping, and cut off his head. Maui took his wife and the head and entered the bird again. Then he broke a hole in the roof thatching and flew out.

The next day, Pe'ape'amakawalu's people waited outside his house a long time. They became restless when he didn't appear. When they opened the door and went in, there was neither bird, nor woman, only the headless body of Pe'ape'amakawalu. Looking up, they saw the hole in the roof and knew the bird had killed their chief and flown away while they slept. The land of Moanaliha, from one end to the other, went into mourning for their dead chief.

Meanwhile Maui was flying back to O'ahu. He dodged clouds; he was battered by strong winds and pelted by rain. But all these were as nothing to his bird. It flew and arrived at Kuolokele's house. The grandfather greeted him, "Come, the feast is ready­the poi, the fish, the pig, and the 'awa." As soon as Maui alighted, his grandfather asked, "Where is your wife and your bundle?"

"Here they are inside," replied Maui.

"Then let your wife out first," said Kuolokele, and Kumulama came out; then Maui brought out the head of Pe'ape'amakawalu.

The eyeballs were plucked out by Kuolokele and placed in the 'awa cup, and the 'awa was prepared. When the cup was filled, he gave it to Maui, who drained it. Then they ate the prepared feast until they were satisfied, and Maui's anger was appeased. After they enjoyed some time together, Kuolokele excused Maui and Kumulama, and they returned home to Hina, who welcomed them back with joy.

(a) In her translation of the Kumulipo, Beckwith identifies Pe'ape'a as "god of the octopus family" (ke akua pe'ape'a) (136):

Hina-ke-ka was abducted by Pe'ape'a
Pe'ape'a, god of the octopus family
That was Maui's last strife
He scratched out the eyes of the eight-eyed Pe'ape'a
The strife ended with Moemoe

But "pe'ape'a" is usually translated "bat." Pe'ape'a is also the name of a peak in the Waimea district of Kaua'i.

(b) This allusion to the fish that came back to life is more fully described in the following passage from the Kumulipo (136):

The sixth strife was over the prayer tower in the heiau
Maui reflected, asked who was his father
Hina denied: "You have no father
The loincloth of Kalana, that was your father"
Hina-of-the-fire longed for fish
He learned to fish, Hina sent him:
"Go get [it] of your parent
There is the line, the hook
Manai-a-ka-lani, that is the hook
For drawing together the lands of old ocean"
He seized the great mudhen of Hina
The sister bird
That was the seventh strife of Maui
He hooked the mischievous shape-shifter
The jaw of Pimoe as it snapped open
The lordly fish that shouts over the ocean
Pimoe crouched in the presence of Maui
Love grew for Mahana-ulu-'ehu
Child of Pimoe
Maui drew them ashore and ate all but the [pectoral fin] (ka pewa)
Kane and Kanaloa were shaken from their foundation
By the ninth strife of Maui
Pimoe "lived through the [pectoral] fin"
Mahana-ulu-'ehu "lived through the tail"

(c) Limaloa is a famous chief of Kaua'i. Mana is the western district of Kaua'i, where Limaloa lived in spirit form in a mirage village with the ali'i wahine La'ieikawai.


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