How To Heal A Situation
by Serge Kahili King
A long time ago, before Captain Cook came to Hawaii, there was a hero named Maui, who was born on
Kauai. One day he was paddling his canoe from Oahu island to Kauai—which takes about 24 hours — and he
asked himself, "Why can't the islands be closer together?" So when he arrived on Kauai he went to see
his mother. Her name was Hina and she lived in Fern Grotto.
"Mom," he said, "How can I bring all the islands together?"
She said, "You have to find and catch the great whale Luehu and hold onto him until
he circles the islands.Then pull your fishing line until they draw together, but you must get the help
of your brothers, and you must always face forward.
"Okay," said Maui, "I can do that." So he went and got his brothers, Maui, Maui, Maui, and Maui and he
pulled down his magic fishhook, Manai a ka lani, from the sky (you probably know it as the
constellation Scorpio). They got the fishing line ready, got the canoe ready, and paddled out into the
Kaieiewaho Channel between Kauai and Oahu. They searched for days and days in all the eight seas of
Hawaii, and finally had to go out even farther than that, and at last they found the whale Luehu
swimming by the little island of Nihoa, far to the northwest. So Maui threw his hook, the whale caught
it, and Luehu pulled the canoe rapidly through the ocean. More days passed as the Maui brothers
paddled and pulled and tugged and guided the whale to surround the islands.
When they were again off the coast of Kauai, they started back paddling while the first Maui carefully
pulled on the line. Luehu was getting tired and it looked like success was near as the islands moved
closer. Then a canoe bailer, Kaliu, floated past the canoe and the eldest Maui, the steersman, quickly
picked it up and tossed it behind him in case it might be needed. However, the canoe bailer was
actually a mischievous spirit, an e'epa, who turned into a beautiful woman.
The whole population of Kauai was on the shore to watch the event, and when they saw the woman they
began shouting and exclaiming at her beauty. The Maui brothers kept facing forward until the paddlers
couldn't stand it any more and turned around to see the woman. At that moment, Luehu felt the
weakening of the pull and gave one last thrust forward. The first Maui was surprised and pulled too
hard and the line broke, and Luehu got free and the islands drifted back again. And we know the story
is true because the islands are still far apart today!
So, now, what can we learn from this story? As in most Hawaiian legends, there are hidden meanings in
the names of things. Luehu, the name of the whale, means "scattered." Manai a ka la, the name of
Maui's fishhook, means "a needle for stringing flower leis." In this sense, the island were like
flowers that had to be strung together, perhaps culturally, politically, or economically.
The fishing line was aho, meaning "breath, to breathe, or to put forth great effort." The full word
used was "ahonui," meaning "to put forth great effort over time," or "to persevere."Nihoa, the small
island, means "Jagged, like a tooth," and there is a saying, "The cliffs of Nihoa stand firm against
the wind." This indicates persistence.
But the canoe bailer, Kaliu, means "a leaky canoe bailer." The leaking was the leaking away of
attention to the purpose.The story was saying that the way to heal a situation is to hold fast to your
purpose no matter what. But how to do that? I'll give a short modern story to illustrate. Some years
ago I participated in producing a self esteem video for the Department of Education in Hawaii. It was
intended for high school students. My part was a section of a workshop I did, but the best part was
When I was watching the video, I saw a young girl dancing the hula with several other girls. The view
was from the waist up and they were all very graceful. But then the camera pulled back, and the girl
in the center only had one leg! She was just as graceful as the others, even with that problem.
Imagine the persistence, the perseverance that must have taken.
So how did she go through all the pain and suffering to learn that balance? The answer is simple, but
the process is not easy. She did it because of her love for the hula. In other words, she had a love
for something that was so strong it pulled her through the trials and disappointments, and effort. The
same applies to anything important we want to accomplish in life. What keeps us going is our love for
something that is more important than anything else. Otherwise, we get distracted like the Maui
brothers did, or we lose interest, or we decide it's too hard.
When you are getting to the point of deciding it's too hard, you focus on why you are doing what you
are doing. What the reason is, or the motivation. It's as important as you decide it is. You need to
remind yourself of your aims regularly, whether you are climbing a mountain, learning a skill, or
Remember, there’s no rule that says you have to continue. But you have to want to or you won’t.