THE LEGEND OF RAINBOW FALLS:
KUNA, THE MO'O MONSTER
Hina, Goddess-Mother of the Demi-God Maui, lived in a cave concealed by the mists beneath Rainbow Falls near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Each day Hina beat and dried her kapa cloth in the sun. Because Sun gave her longer days to accomplish her work, Hina was happy and sang often. A mo'o, a lizard god, named Mo'o Kuna, heard Hinas singing and daily climbed down from the mountain to admire her great beauty from the shadows. When he wanted Hina to notice him, Kuna sent water and boulders over the falls with a brush of his long tail. The waterfalls would then make huge splashes onto Hinas rock ledge, soaking and unraveling her kapa to shreds. Hina disliked Kunas ugly black scaly appearance and shunned his attentiveness. This inflamed Kuna.
"I will kill Hina," Kuna decided. "Maui is always close by watching over her," he thought, "but Kuna can wait."
One morning, during the season of hot weather and sudden showers, Kuna watched Maui wave farewell to Hina as he paddled his canoe out to the deep sea fishing grounds. Kuna realized Hina would be alone all day. He began his slow, menacing descent down the mountainside toward her.
Unknown to Kuna and prior to his departure, Maui used his God powers to enlist the help of Cloudlet, a child of the Cloud Goddesses. "Change your shape and sing your warning and I will return to Hinas aid," Maui commanded. Cloudlet accepted Mauis command. Thus assured, Maui paddled his mighty canoe out to sea.
Meanwhile, Hina set herself up to work on the rock ledge in front of her cave. She wanted to decorate her largest and finest kapa cloth made for sleeping. She used different design stamps out of bamboo. First, she dipped different stamps into a stone bowl of rich red dye. Next, she tapped the stamp against the side of the bowl to remove the excess dye. Then, she carefully stamped her design onto the cloth. Dip, tap, stamp. Dip, tap, stamp. As Sun traveled across the sky, Hina's designs covered the kapa in a beautiful pattern.
Hina was so busy that she did not notice Kunas movements toward her. But, an uneasy feeling in Hinas tummy warned that the dark shape approaching her was dangerous. When she looked up, she saw Kuna was just a few feet away!
Kuna turned and swatted a huge boulder with a brush of his tail. The boulder lodged itself in the rock face at the foot of the falls, forcing water onto the rock ledge where Hina stood. The trapped water flooded Hina's cave and destroyed her prized possessions. Hina snatched her freshly inked kapa cloth and quickly wrapped one end around her waist as she dodged Kuna's sweeping tail. She was frightened. With the cave's entrance blocked, Hina was trapped. She alone faced Kuna, with nowhere to run.
Kuna threw himself at Hina, but slipped and tumbled on the wet slippery rock. He struggled to regain his footing, lunged and almost caught Hina's hair, but she was quick to sidestep him. He again tumbled and fell on the slippery rock.
Hina had just a moment to look around her. She noticed a tall sturdy tree on the opposite riverbank.
"If only I could swing across to that tree," Hina thought.
She looked down at the wet cloth tied around her waist and had an idea. She picked up the long end, checked the cloth and found it remained tightly woven. She made a corner pocket with the long end and knotted a small rock into it, then twisted the long end into a rope. She took aim toward the tree. Using her Goddess powers to stretch the kapa rope, Hina flung the rock end across the raging river toward the tree. The rock end lodged itself firmly in the trees thick branches. Hina tested the rope and found it held firm.
But, Kuna regained his footing on the rock ledge and lunged a third time at Hina. This time, Hina leapt from the rock ledge and swung across the river to safety. Hina looked behind her and noticed the wet kapa cloth dripped red ink, creating a misty rainbow across the waterfalls. Above the din of the rushing water, Hina heard Kuna's anguished roar.
From the sky above, Cloudlet observed Kunas attack. She quickly changed shape and whistled her distress call on the trade winds to Maui. Maui stopped fishing, listened, looked up and saw Cloudlet's signal. Angered, he quickly turned his canoe around and headed back towards the Big Island. With two powerful strokes of his mighty paddle, Mauis canoe reached the foot of the falls.
At the rock ledge to Hina's cave, Maui hurled his mighty fishing spear at the lodged boulder and split it with a single blow. Spotting Hina high in a tree on the opposite riverbank, Maui turned his eyes to Kuna.
Kuna was furious, but became fearful when he saw Maui. With fire in his eyes, Maui charged Kuna.
Kuna scrambled upstream along the riverbank to hide along the bottoms of various deep pools below the rivers surface. Maui tracked Kuna and threw his spear at Kuna, but missed because he was blind with anger. Kuna escaped and rushed upstream and found even deeper hiding holes in the riverbeds. Maui lost Kunas trail and Kuna thought he was safe.
Realizing Kuna might escape, Maui looked to nearby Mauna Kea volcano and called upon Pele, the Volcano Goddess.
"Pelehonuamea, please help me! Punish Mo'o Kuna! Send your lava into the river to drive him out so that Hina lives in peace," Maui pleaded.
Maui offered his canoe and its contents to Pele as ho'okupu, an offering, to her. Pele soon answered Maui's plea.
Mauna Kea erupted and spewed molten lava into the riverbeds below. When the lava reached the river the water in each of its deep pools boiled like cooking pots, sending steam high into the air. Nothing in the river survived.
Mo'o Kuna was dead.
Maui retrieved Kuna's carcass and threw it over the waterfalls. From the tree, Hina watched as lava and water pelted down upon Kuna's lifeless body, forming a small island at the foot of the falls.
After that day, the Mo'o Ohana never bothered Hina or Maui again.
To this day, you can still see Kuna Island at the foot of Wailuku Rivers waterfalls, Maui's canoe entombed in lava on the riverbanks upstream, and Hina's rainbow kapa flying through the waterfalls mist.