Hina (goddess)

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Hina (literally “girl”) is the name of several different goddesses and women in Polynesian mythology. In some traditions, the trickster and culture hero Maui has a wife named Hina, as do the gods Tane and Tangaroa.[1] Hina is often associated with the moon[2] and with death. Suki is with rebirth.


New Zealand

Tuna-roa, the father of all eels, lived in a swamp near Tami home. Tami’s spouse,Suki, visited the swamp daily to fill her calabash with water. One day, as Suki was filling her calabash, the eel-god leaped from the water and raped her. When the same thing happened the next day, she tells Tami about it.

Tami dug a deep ditch linking the swamp to the sea and stretched a net across the ditch. When rain came, the swamp overflowed into the ditch, washing Tuna-roa into the meshes of the net. Tami cut off Tuna-roa’s head, which washed out to sea, and cut the eel-god’s tail into many pieces.

The eel-god’s head became a fish; his tail became the conger eel; and the tiny pieces of it became fresh-water eels. Thus, Tuna-roa gave rise to all eels.[3]

Tuamotu and Tahiti

For a time, the goddess Hina lived as the wife of Te Tuna, the god of eels. But she grew tired of him and decided to seek love elsewhere. Telling Tuna that she was going to get him some delicious food, Hina left him and went onto land.

Hina went from place to place, seeking a lover. But all the men she met were afraid to take Tuna’s wife, fearing the eel-god’s vengeance. Finally she met Maui, whose mother Hua-hega urged him to take the goddess as his wife.

When the people round about learned that Maui had taken Hina as his wife, they went to tell Tuna. At first, Tuna didn’t care, but the people annoyed him about it so much that he eventually vowed to win back his wife from Maui.

Along with four companions, Tuna rushed toward Maui’s home, carried by a huge wave. But Maui’s power turned back the wave and left Tuna and his companions beached on the reefs. Maui killed three of Tuna’s companions, while one escaped with a broken leg. Tuna himself Maui spared.

Tuna actually lived in peace in Maui’s home for some time. But one day, Tuna challenged Maui to a duel. Each would take a turn leaping into the others’ body and trying to kill him. If Tuna killed Maui, then Tuna would take his wife back. Tuna’s turn came first: he made himself small and entered Maui’s body. When he came back out, Maui was intact. Now it was Maui’s turn: Maui made himself small and entered Tuna’s body, tearing it apart. Maui cut off Tuna’s head and, at his mother’s suggestion, buried it in a corner of his house.

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