Māui and Hina

Māui is a consider a trickster hero throughout Polynesia. In Hawaiian legends, the first solar eclipse was said to have been caused by Māui slowing the sun so that his mother, Hina, could finish her kapa. Māui, out of his devotion as a son, literally moved the heavens in order that Hina may finish her kapa. Kapa or tapa cloth in Polynesia is a high value object, something that is a work of art and something that is passed on from generation to generation. Feather work, kapa, lauhala, wood work, tattooing and shell work are the six major forms of traditional Hawaiian art. But kapa was a kapu art; an art that could only be produced by females because of itʻs ancient association with Hina.

In Hawaiʻi, Hina is both an ancestor figure and an eternal figure. According to Molokaʻi tradition, Kū and Hina were the only two venerated akua (gods) before the coming of Paʻao and Lono. Indeed, the name Hina is very ancient and is found in some form in Austronesian languages as Hina, Ina, Sina, Tina, Hine, etc. Ina for example in Tagalog means mother. In the Marquesas, Hina becomes Hine and is believed to be one the root for the Hawaiian word, wahine. Consistently, the term refers to the idea of a mother and female figure throughout the Pacific or as James Campbell might say a prototype of the Feminine Divine in Pacific mythology.

In the old Hawaiian religion, Ka Wahine Manawakolu, the Eternal Woman or Eternal Female, refers to Hina and her various 40,000 forms such as Hinaikapō (Hina of the Night), Hinaokekapaloa (Hina of the Long Kapa), Hinakīnaʻu (The Red Streaked Hina), Hinaikekapu (Hina of the Sacredness), Hinaikamālama (Hina in the Moon), Hinaikeahi (Hina in the Fire), Hinakekā (Hina the Canoe Bailer), Hinanuiakalana(ola) (Great Hina the Life Giver, the Mother of Molokaʻi). etc. Chiefs often carried sacred names of deities thereby invoking the akua through the name. So some of the Hina legends may have been actual female chiefs that were the namesake of the Eternal Woman. In some Hawaiian traditions, Pāpā and Haumea are both forms of Hina while in other traditions, Papa and Haumea and daughters of Hina. There is another form of Hina that also brings to mind the solar eclipse. While Kū, her male partner, represents political order, law and order, and conquest, there is a form of Hina called Hinakekeʻehi (Hina the Rebel), the woman that stamps and pushes the political order or some might say Hina the activist or Hina the free thinker.

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