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The gods of the Pacific Islands.


  Tales of Polynesia – Throughout the islands of Polynesia, the demigod, Maui, is the dominant mythological figure.
  A trickster and seducer, he delights in playing pranks on all. He would challenge the established order and the customs of taupu – taboo. Tails of Maui's grand exploits are everywhere and legends of this sacred hero are woven into the very fabric of Polynesian life.
  Long ago, it was Maui who created the islands of Polynesia by fishing them out of the ocean. Some legends say he wove a rope out of his sister, Hina's, hair and lassoed the sun, forcing it to slow its course and provide long sunny days. We thus have Maui to thank for the idyllic conditions above and below the water.

  Another legend tells of the origin of the black pearls, for which French Polynesia is famous. When Oro, the war god, came down to earth to find a mortal wife, he positioned the rainbow so that one end was in the sky and the other touched the earth, and used it as his pathway. As he descended from the heavens, bits of color fell from the rainbow, mingled with the moonlight, and fell into the lagoon as black pearls.

  Polynesian legends also recount the exploits of Tangaroa, the god of the sea, fish and reptiles. It was Tangaroa who separated the earth from the sky, but he was also known to swallow up animals and people with his storms, taking them to his kingdom under the sea.

  The atua are spirits of ancestors, sometimes referred to as Nuku-mai-Tore - People of the Other World. They live in the trees and can fly. Leaves and palm fronds rustling in the wind may be an indication that the spirits are trying to tell us something.

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  Many Hawaiian legends revolve around Pele, the goddess of fire, whose lava-spewing volcanoes have shaped much of the islands. In many tales, she is a water-goddess as well, since the sea was a gift from her parents to help float the young Pele's canoe.

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  Melanesia – Islands of Myth – Qat is Melanesia's counterpart of Maui, the prankster demigod of Polynesia. Like Maui, Qat created the islands by fishing them up from the ocean floor. But while Maui lassoed the sun to slow its path, Qat created night by forcing the sun to sink into the west.

  One of the most revered legends of Fiji concerns Dakuwanga (or Dakuwaqa), the shark god, who fiercely guarded the reef entrances to all the islands of Fiji. One story tells of his life-and-death struggle with a giant octopus outside the entrance to Kadavu. No match for the strong tentacles of the octopus, and sensing his own death, he begged for mercy, promising that in return he would never harm the people of Kadavu. Released unharmed, the shark god kept his promise, and even today the people of Kadavu have no fear of sharks.

  The Solomon Islands have an ancient supernatural being called Kesoko, the Birdman. He has a frightening ability to call up great storms and to destroy canoes, killing and devouring all those on board. He is easy to spot because he has the body of a man but the head of a frigatebird.
  Fortunately, there is a way counteract the birdman's malevolence. The ancient power of Nguzunguzu, carved as a figurehead on the prows of canoes, neutralizes his evil force and serves to protect the canoe's occupants and ensure the success of their mission.

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  Mysteries of Micronesia – Tales of ghosts and hauntings are common throughout Micronesia. Stories abound about the White Lady, a ghostly apparition who is said to appear around Guam and incites fear to this day. Part poltergeist and part malevolent spirit, half beautiful woman and half horrible creature, she appears only after sundown and disappears the moment the moon rises.

  Palau has an ancient legend that depicts a village that lies underwater, sunken by man's greed.
  An old woman was in danger of starving, so her son chopped off the branch of a magical breadfruit tree, forming a hollow link to the sea. With each surging wave, fish would gush up through the hollow tree and land in her yard. Eventually, the locals grew jealous of this bounty and cut down the tree. The ocean immediately flooded in, sinking the village, which even today can be spotted off the shores of Ngiwal.

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