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Maui

Maui (mou´ē), island (1990 est. pop. 82,500), 728 sq mi (1,886 sq km), second largest island in the state of Hawaii, separated from the island of Hawaii by the Alenuihaha Channel and from Molokai by the Pailolo Channel. Maui is made up of two mountain masses, which constitute the east and west peninsulas, connected by an isthmus. The highest point on the island is the Haleakala volcano (10,023 ft/3,055 m) in Haleakala National Park. In the west, Puu Kukui rises to 5,788 ft (1,764 m). The island's chief industries are tourism and the cultivation of sugarcane and pineapples. The principal ports are Kahului and Lahaina. Wailuku (1990 pop. 10,688) is the largest town and the county seat of Maui co. (1990 pop. 100,374), which includes the islands of Maui, Kahoolawe, and Molokai.

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Maui

Maui

In Polynesian mythology, Maui was a powerful trickster god best known for creating the Pacific islands. A son of the god Tangaroa and a woman, he performed many deeds to improve the lives of humans, such as making the sky higher and the day longer. Endowed with magical powers, this small but exceedingly strong god and culture hero tried but did not succeed in achieving immortality.

Maui created the islands while out on a fishing trip with his brothers. First he fashioned a magic fishing hook from his grandmother's jawbone. Then, as his brothers looked on, Maui cast the hook into the water and began to pull up from the ocean floor the islands on which the Polynesians now live.

On another occasion Maui was out walking and came upon a girl who complained that the sky was so low it kept falling on her and preventing her from doing her chores. Eager to impress the girl, Maui pushed hard and succeeded in raising the sky

In order to give people more hours of daylight to tend their gardens, cook their food, and make cloth, Maui made the days longer. With the help of his brothers, he caught the sun in a net and beat it with his grandmother's magic jawbone. The sun was so bruised and bloodied by this battering that from that time on it could only limp slowly across the sky.

trickster mischievous figure appearing in various forms in the folktales and mythology of many different peoples

culture hero mythical figure who gives people the tools of civilization, such as language and fire

immortality ability to live forever

Maui tried to become immortal by tricking Hina, the goddess of death, as she lay sleeping. He crawled into her body and tried to pass through it, but the goddess was awakened by the call of a bird and promptly crushed Maui to death.

See also Polynesian Mythology; Tricksters.

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