Skip to Main Content

Traditions of Oʻahu: Kona

Stories of this island before high-rises, freeways and hotels, before sugar plantations and pineapple fields, before churches and the Bible.

Stories by Districts - Kona


Kona is the eastern district of the southern coast of O'ahu, from Kuli'ou'ou in the east to Moanalua in the west. "Kona" refers to the downwind or leeward side of an island. Kona includes the present-day city of Honolulu. In ancient times, the district of Waikiki was the most densely populated area in the Hawaiian Islands. "Here the chiefs had their residences near the now famous beach and the offshore waters where conditions were ideal for their prized sport of surfriding. This in early times idyllic area was flanked by the great wet-taro lands of Manoa, and the area between that valley and the sea which was one continuous spread of taro and and fishponds; by Pauoa, Nu'uanu, Waolani, Kapalama, and Kalihi; and by Moanalua and other cultivated lands farther to the west" (Handy and Handy 270). The offshore areas were noted fishing grounds for aku (skipjack tuna), the most prized fish of ancient times, and the fishing god 'Ai'ai made his home in Nu'uanu.


Map of Oahu: Kona


Hanaaumoe was a flattering akua (mischievous spirit) who lived on O'ahu during the reign of Halali'i. Hanaaumoe was assigned to stand watch along the coast of O'ahu. When canoes from other islands passed by, he invited the travelers ashore with his artful flattery. Once ashore the travelers were killed and eaten by the akua of O'ahu.

While on duty one day, he saw a double canoe approaching O'ahu from the west. In the canoe was the chief Kahaookamoku, a friend of the king of Kaua'i, along with several men, including Kane'opa. These travelers were on their way to Hawai'i. Hanaaumoe invited them ashore: "Come ashore, land your canoes. Don't go to Hawai'i for that island has many akua." He chanted:

Hawai'i has akua, for Kanikaa lives there.
Maui has akua, for Keoloewa lives there.
Lana'i has akua, for Pahulu lives there.
Moloka'i has akua, for Kaunolu lives there.
Here's an island with no akua;
Bring your canoe ashore.
There is food here for you,
And lodging,
And women--
Each paddler shall have two women,
And your chief Kahaookamoku shall have five.

When the travelers heard this invitation, they landed at Kou (a canoe landing near Nu'uanu Stream and Honolulu Harbor), hauled the canoe up onto the beach, and entered a long house, where they fell asleep waiting for the good things promised by Hanaaumoe. Later that evening Hanaaumoe came to the door of the house where the visitors were sleeping, piled on one another like castaways, all dead tired from the long crossing from Kaua'i. The akua called out:

Hanaaumoe is calling, are you asleep?
Piled on one another,
Piled on one another,
Are you all asleep?

Everyone was fast asleep except Kane'opa, who answered: "We're not sleeping yet; we're still waiting for the food and women you promised to us."

Hanaaumoe replied deceitfully: "The food and women are coming, but they haven't arrived yet. The road down from Nu'uanu is long, the journey from Kapikaki is arduous, and the plain of Kulaokahu'a is far off." (Kapikaki is near Pearl Harbor; Kula-o-kahu'a is an area of old Honolulu.)

Hanaaumoe returned to king Halali'i and the rest of the akua, who asked: "Are the visitors asleep?"

"No, not yet."

At midnight Hanaaumoe returned to the long house where the visitors were sleeping and called out:

Piled on one another,
Piled on one another,
Are you all asleep?

Kane'opa answered: "No, we aren't asleep yet, we're waiting for the women you promised the paddlers and the chief."

Hanaaumoe lied as he did before, then departed.

Kane'opa suspected then that the island of O'ahu was full of akua, and that these akua wanted to eat his companions and him, so he looked for a hiding place inside the house. He decided to dig a hole under the threshold, for he knew that the king of the akua would, upon entering the house, sit there.

All this time the rest of the travelers were in a deep sleep. Kane'opa was afraid that if he fell asleep, the chief Kahaookamoku would be eaten by the akua, so he tried to stay awake. He lasted until the crowing of the first cock. Just before falling asleep, he hid in his hole under the door sill.

After he fell asleep, Hanaaumoe arrived again and called out as before, for a third time. There was no answer. Hanaaumoe called again. No answer. Hanaaumoe then said: "Now all of you will be killed and eaten. Why didn't you stay on Kaua'i instead of coming to the akua island of Halali'i and falling asleep? There's no escape now. Your flesh, your bones, your bowels, your blood, your eyes­all will be consumed."

Then Hanaaumoe returned to Halali'i, who asked: "How is it, are the vistors asleep?"

"Yes, they're asleep, let's go and eat."

Thousands of akua, hundreds of thousands of akua entered the long house where Kane'opa and his companions were sleeping. Halali'i sat on the threshold. The akua smacked their lips and devoured all the visitors. Then they dug up the floor of the house looking for more victims However, they didn't look under the threshold where king Halali'i was sitting and Kane'opa was hiding. At the approach of day the akua returned home, and Kane'opa came out of his hiding place. He limped to the canoe, pushed it into the sea, and headed for Kaua'i.

While Kane'opa was still in sight, Hanaaumoe appeared on the coast and beckoned him back to land: "Come ashore. Bring the canoe ashore."

Kane'opa replied angrily: "You filthy old akua! Didn't you eat all my companions? I won't come ashore."

Upon his arrival at Kaua'i, Kane'opa informed the king and the people how his crew mates had been eaten by the akua of O'ahu, and how he was saved only by hiding. The king then asked Hanakapi'ai, his priest: "What should we do?"

The priest answered: "Carve wooden images of human beings. Make thousands, hundreds of thousands." The images were made, and the king, the priest, and a large number of followers set sail for O'ahu. They hove to directly off Le'ahi (Diamond Head) and saw Hanaaumoe inviting them ashore. Kane'opa told the Kaua'i people: "That's Hanaaumoe, the great flatterer. He's the akua who tricked us into landing."

The king and priest replied to Hanaaumoe: "Yes, we will land." The visitors came ashore and approached the same long house where Kahaookamoku and his companions had been eaten.

Toward dusk that evening, the priest told the people: "Leave the wooden images in the house and go back to the canoes. Everyone must stay awake. After all the akua have entered the house, we'll burn it down."

Later that evening, the flattering akua Hanaaumoe came to the house and called out:

Piled on one another,
Piled on one another,
Are you all asleep?

No answer. He called a second time; again no answer. Hanaaumoe then said aloud to himself: "Ahaha! Why didn't you stay on Kaua'i instead of coming here and falling asleep on the akua island of Halali'i? Now all of you will die, no one will escape!"

While Hanaaumoe was saying this, the visitors were awake listening. Hanaaumoe returned to Halali'i and reported that all the visitors were asleep. Halali'i summoned his akua, and they went to the long house at the beach. Once again Halali'i sat on the threshold. The rest of the akua entered, took up the wooden images, and began eating them

"How tough this one is!" said one of the akua.

"So is this one," said another.

It was customary in those days for the king to receive the choicest portions of any food, so the fattest images were given to Halali'i. Upon taking a bite of one of them, Halali'i agreed: "Very tough."

The rest of the akua answered: "All these people are very thin and tough; not one of them is fat and juicy. They aren't at all like the first lot that came from Kaua'i."

While the akua were busy eating the wooden images, the Kaua'i people surrounded the house and set it on fire, killing all the akua with the exception of Hanaaumoe, the artful flatterer, who somehow managed to escape.

"Hanaaumoe" is found in Hawaiian and English in Fornander Vol. IV, pp. 476-482 and in Vol. V, pp. 428-434. The name Hanaaumoe means "Works late at night"; Kane'opa means ("Lame man"); "Halali'i" suggests a sinful chief (hala = "sin"; ali'i "chief"). In ancient times, Halali'i was a pleasure-loving chief of Ni'ihau.

It was a traditional belief that the islands of Hawai'i were inhabited by akua, or cannibal spirits, before they were inhabited by human beings. These akua represented the antithesis of ideal human behavior, which required a host to protect, provide and care for visitors and guests. These cannibal spirits had to be destroyed before human beings could safely inhabit an area or an island.

The trickster Kaulula'au is remembered for killing off all but one of the akua of the island of Lana'i; the trickster Punia destroyed all but one of the akua of the Kona district of the Big Island. Rice tells the story of how an unnamed hero tricked the akua of Ni'ihau and burned them to death, thus making Ni'ihau safe for fishermen (68).

Waiakeakua: Water of the Gods

Annie Harris
Kane and Kanaloa (a) came from the land of Kuaihelani (b) on a pointed cloud and arrived at Hanauma, O'ahu. Kane was a kindly god, courteous ('olu'olu) in all his ways. As they traveled about the island, Kanaloa complained of hunger and, turning to his older brother, said "O Kane! We keep on going and we are dying of hunger! Let us eat."

Kane looked about and saw that there was no water for mixing their refreshment of 'awa drink (c). He struck the earth with his staff and water gushed forth. When the two had eaten, they started on again along the highway. They had not gone far when Kanaloa wanted to eat again. The country through which they were passing had no water. As he had done before, Kane again struck the earth with his staff and water gushed forth. Wherever they stopped to rest, Kanaloa asked for food, and many were the waterholes made by Kane between Hanauma and Laeahi (d).

Photo: Laeahi

When the two reached 'Apuakehau (where the Moana Surfrider Hotel stands), they went sea-bathing, and then lay on the beach with their backs to the sun to dry. As the sun went down, they set out again to ascend Manoa valley. Passing through Kamo'ilili (Mo'ilili), they washed off the sand from their skin in the Papa'akea stream (e). Sand said to have been left by these gods was for many years to be seen there, but today it is covered over.

On their way they rested on the Keapapa hill (at the place now called Punahou) and again Kanaloa teased his brother for water and challenged his ability to produce it. Kane smiled, for he could hear the noise of water within the hill, and he thrust his staff into the ground and the water gushed forth in abundance. It has been a great blessing to the natives of that region and is said to be the source of the water on the McCullly tract. This water of Kane was called "The new spring," Ka-puna-hou (f).

The two continued their journey up Manoa to Pu'ahu'ula (g). As they stood there facing the cliff, Kanaloa asked his older brother if there were kupua (h) in that place. The two climbed a perpendicular cliff and found a pretty woman living there with her woman attendant. Kameha'ikana (i) was the name of this kupua. Such was the nature of the two women that they could appear in the form of human beings or of stones. Both Kane and Kanaloa longed to possess this beauty of upper Manoa. The girl herself, after staring at them, was smitten with love for the two gods. Kameha'ikana began to smile invitingly. The attendant saw that her charge did no know which one of the two gods she wanted and knew that if they both got hold of her, she would be destroyed, and she was furious. Fearing death for her beloved one, she threw herself headlong between the strangers and her charge and blocked the way. Kane leaped to catch the girl, but could not reach her. The body of Kameha'ikana's attendant stands there to this day, with the head down and the feet up. The mark of Kane's footprint remains where he trod. At the place where the gods stood, 'ohi'a 'ai (mountain apple trees) sprang up whose branches drooped over the surface of the water. The original trees are dead but their seedlings are grown and guard Waiakeakua, Water of the Gods.


The story of the spring and stream of Waiakeakua, the easternmost stream at the back of Manoa valley, was publsihed in Green and Pukui, The Legend of Kawelo and Other Hawaiian Folk Tales (112-115; in Hawaiian and English). Editor Martha Warren Beckwith notes: "Mr. John Holani Hao of Waialua, O'ahu, thinks that this is a fanciful story and that the name [of the spring Waiakeakua] comes from the fact that only the high chiefs were allowed to use this spring; it was kapu to others. A chief would often test the courage and fidelity of a retainer by dispatching him at night to fill a gourd at this spring. The trickle was so slow that water could be obtained only by using a footstalk of banana as trough. The fear of spirits abroad at night would daunt all but the bravest. The water when drawn was full of fine bubbles; if the messenger filled the gourd from another source, he was always detected­'Where are the bubbles?'"

Regarding the trickling stream, see Puku'i 'Olelo No'eau, No. 2917: "Wai pe'epe'e palai o Waiakekua," "The water of Waiakekua that plays hide-and-seek among the ferns." Some of the notes that follow are found in the original text by editor Beckwith and are followed by her initials "MWB."

(a) Kane and Kanaloa, two of the four major gods of ancient Hawai'i, are paired in water-finding activities. They also "'caused plants for the food of man to grow.'" (Beckwith Hawaiian Mythology 63). The god Kane is said to have come from Kahiki:

Holo mai Kane mai Kahiki
Holo a i'a iloko o ke kai
Ke kekele 'au i ka moana
O Haumea ke kaikuahine
O Kanaloa ia me Kane.

Here comes Kane from Kahiki
Coming like a fish in the sea,
Gliding through the ocean currents
Haumea the sister
And Kanaloa are with Kane.

(Kamakau Ka Po'e Kahiko 68)

The genealogy of Kane is variously given in Hawaiian traditions. Kamakau says Kane, along with Lono and Ku, was the god of human creation; Papa and Wakea appear twenty-eight generations later. According to Pakui, "a lineal descendant of historians from the the very darkest ages," Wakea lived with Papa and gave birth to Kane and Kanaloa (Buck 252). "The Kumulipo states that Kane and Kanaloa were born together as the children of Kumuhonua (Foundation-of-the-earth) and Haloiho (Peer-beneath). Nineteen pairs later, in the same list, Wakea appears" (Buck 252).

Beckwith says Kane was an ancestor of both chiefs and commoners, and worshiped by all social classes (Hawaiian Mythology 42), suggesting there was a classless society before the society became stratified into social classes. The different classes of Hawaiians are said to have come into existence in the generation of Papa and Wakea: the ali'i traced their ancestry to Wakea; the kahuna came from Lihau'ula; and the maka'ainana from Maku'u. These three brothers were sons of Kahiko Luamea and Kupulanakehau (Kamakau Tales 35; in the Hawai'i Loa tradition, the chiefs and priests are said to be descended from Kunuiakea, a son of Hawai'i Loa; commoners from Makali'i, one of Hawai'iloa's navigators.)

That Kane, Ku, and Lono were replacing the earth mother Papa and the sky father Wakea as the source of life and creation suggests a male-dominated pantheon was evolving to supplant an older balance between the male and the female gods. Kane, whose name means "male" and "man," came to be paired with other male gods (Kane and Ku, or Kane and Kanaloa) or joined by Kamakau and Kepelino in a trinity with Ku and Lono, rather than with a female deity (cf. the male Ku and female Hina; the female Papa and male Wakea).

Kane worship was simple, "without human sacrifice or laborious ritual. As such, it was unlike Ku worship, which was "highly ritualistic and involved human sacrifice" (Beckwith 46), or Lono worship, which was ritualized in the Makahiki festival. Although Kane was sometimes named in prayers to Ku and Lono during rituals at the heiau, offerings and prayers to him were also made in a less formal setting, at a family altar called Pohaku-o-Kane ("Stone of Kane"):

a conical stone from a foot to eight feet in height, plain or with slight carving, and planted about with ti plant, where members of a family went to pray to their 'aumakua and ask forgiveness for the broken tapu to which they ascribed any trouble that had come upon them. Here they sought protection from their family god with offerings and prayer. They came early in the morning, chewed 'awa while a pig was baking, and, when all was ready, ate under tapu, leaving no remnants and clearing away all rubbish. (Beckwith 46-47)

Kane is said to have brought kalo, the main food crop, and other cultivated plants (coconuts, breadfruit, 'awa, and wauke) to Hawai'i (Beckwith 62). A prayer to accompany an offering to Kane of kalo and 'awa leaves goes as follows (Kamakau 35):

E kulia, e ikumaumaua e ke akua,
E Kane, e Kaneikawaiola;
Eia ka lu'au, ka lau'awa mua o ka 'ai a kakou;
E ho'i e 'ai ke akua;
E 'ai ho'i ko'u 'ohana,
E 'ai ka pua'a,
E 'ai ka 'ilio.
E ola ho'i a'u i ko pulapula,
I mahi'ai, i lawai'a, i kukulu hale,
A kaniko'o, haumaka'iole, a palalauhala,
A kau i ka puaaneane;
O kau ola ka ho'i ia.
'Amama, ua noa; lele wale aku la ho'i.

[Pause and receive thanks, O god.
O Kane, O Kane-of-the-water-of-life;
Here is the taro leaf, our first 'awa leaf;
Turn back and eat, O god;
May my family also eat,
The pigs eat,
The dogs eat.
Grant success to me, your offspring,
In farming, in fishing, in house-building,
Until I am bent with age, blear-eyed as a rat, yellow as a hala leaf,
And reach advanced old age;
This is the life that is yours to grant.
'Amama, the kapu is freed; the prayer has gone on its way.]

Kane was the god of life, associated with fertility, good health, longevity­and life-giving water. "'Life is sacred to Kane (ua kapu ke ola na Kane)', was the saying'" (Beckwith 46)

Kamakau says that the two gods first arrived in Hawai'i from Kahiki at the island of Kaho'olawe, then went to Kahikinui, Maui, where they built a fishpond; "from them came the water of Kou at Kaupo." Later, they "broke open rocks so that water would gush forth--sweet, flowing water--at Waihe'e and Kahakuloa on Maui, on Lana'i, at Waiakane in Punakou on Moloka'i and at Kawaihoa on O'ahu" (Tales 112).

Kawaihoa, "the friendly water," is just to the west of Hanauma where the present story begins and continues with the water-finding activities of the two gods in the Kona district of O'ahu.

(b) "One of the twelve mythical islands in the clouds controlled by the god Kane and inhabited by his followers" (MWB). Kane often took the form of a cloud, bringing the water of life (ka waiola) to the islands.

(c) 'Awa is a mildly intoxicating drink made from the root of a pepper plant; a favorite drink of the gods and chiefs.

(d) "Lae'ahi (now called Diamond Head) is erroneously spelled Leiahi [or Leahi]." [Lae is a promontory or headland; 'ahi is the yellow-fin tuna.] "Great schools of 'ahi were formerly found about this cape. Another explanation is that the promontory resembles the head of an 'ahi fish" (MWB).

(e) Papa'akea Stream may be the name of a section of Manoa stream, which used to flow into the ocean at 'Apuakehau, before the Ala Wai Canal channeled the water from Manoa and Makiki streams into the ocean between the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Ala Moana Park. (Kapa'akea is the area makai of Manoa valley, including Mo'ilili; see map of old Honolulu in John Papa Ii's Fragments of Hawaiian History, 93).

(f) See "Punahou" by Emma M. Nakuina in the tab above for a different version of the creation of this spring.

(g) Pu'ahu'ula ("Feather Cloak Spring"), in upper Manoa Valley, is identified as the place where the mo'o goddess Kihanuilulumoku ("Great island-shaking lizard) lived; "she had eel, lizard (mo'o) and female forms" and is said to nourish the plants of Wa'aloa, "Long Canoe," the stream to the west of Waiakeakua in Manoa valley. Queen Ka'ahumanu, wife of Kamehameha, the conqueror of the islands, had a home at this site and died here in 1832. "Pu" is short for "Puna" or spring, and "'ahu'ula", a feather cloak, was a symbol of the ali'i (Pukui et al Place Names).

(h) "A kupua is a descendant of a family of gods and has the power of transformation into certain inherited forms" (MWB).

(i) Kameha'ikana ("A multitude of descendants") was one of the names of the goddess of childbirth, Haumea. Haumea took human form as Walinu'u (See Beckwith 281-283). According to Kamakau, Walinu'u was a mo'o goddess (Ka Po'e Kahiko 85).


Gecko: lizzard petroglyph

The Ka'ala Mountains were the home of a chief named Kahaakea. He had a boy and a girl, twins, whose mother had died at their birth. The brother was called Kauawa'ahila ("The Wa'ahila Rain")(a), and the girl Kauaki'owao ("The Mountain Mist"). Kahaakea was very tenderly attached to his motherless children, and after a while remarried in order to provide his children with a mother's care and love.

His new wife, Hawea, had a boy by her former husband. This boy was deformed and ugly, while the twins were very beautiful. The stepmother was jealous of their beauty and resented the universal admiration expressed for them while no one noticed her boy except with looks of aversion. She was very considerate toward the twins when their father was present, but secretly hated and detested them.

When the twins were about ten years old, their father had occasion to go to Hawai'i, and remained away a long time. He felt perfectly safe in leaving his children with his wife, as she had always pretended great love for them. But as soon as her husband was away, Hawea began to persecute the poor children.

After the death of the mother of the twins, certain prayers, invocations, fasting, and humiliations had been performed by her relatives, and quantities of 'awa, unblemished black pig, red fish, and all other customary foods of the gods had been prepared and offered to strengthen her spirit and give it some power and control over mundane events. So when the stepmother began to persecute the twins, the spirit of their mother came to assist and protect them.

But the persecutions became unbearable. Hawea not only deprived the twins of food, clothing, and water, but subjected them to all sorts of indignities and humiliations. Finally, they fled in desparation to Konahuanui, the mountain peak above the Nu'uanu Pali, to hide. But they were soon discovered and driven away from there by the cruel Hawea. They then went to the head of Manoa Valley. The stepmother was not at all pleased at their escape and searched for them everywhere. She finally tracked them down by the constant appearance of rainbows, those unfailing attendants of rain and mist, at the head of Manoa Valley. The children were ordered to return to Ka'ala, where they would be constantly under her eyes; instead, they fled and hid themselves in a small cave on the side of Kukaoo Hill, which is crowned by a menehune temple (b). Here they lived for some time cultivating a patch of sweet potatoes, which they ate with grasshoppers and greens. The greens were the leaves and tender shoots of the popolo, 'aheahea, pakai, laulele, and sweet potato vines cooked by rolling hot stones around and among them in a covered gourd. (This steaming method is called puholoholo.)

When the potato tubers were ready for harvest, the brother dug a double imu (earth oven) with a kapu (sacred) side for his food and a noa (free) side for his sister's. Their little cave was also divided into two, a sacred side for the boy and a free side for his sister. (In olden times females were not allowed to appear at any eating-place for males. The cave of the twins can still be seen today, and the stone wall dividing it in two was intact a few years ago, as also was the double imu.)

Soon after the crops of the twins had ripened, the stepmother found the children again, drove them from their cave, and took the fruits of their labors. The children then fled to the rocky hills just back of Punahou, where they found two small caves, one for each of them. The rolling plains and small ravines of the surrounding country and of what was later known as the Punahou pasture were not then covered with manienie grass (bermuda grass), but with indigenous shrubs and bushes­ilima, 'aheahea, popolo, and so on­making close thickets. Here and there were open spaces covered with manienie-'aki'aki, the medicinal grass of olden times used for exorcising spirits. These shrubs and bushes bore edible fruits or flowers; or the leaves and tender shoots made nourishing and satisfying food when steamed. The poor children lived on these and grasshoppers, and sometimes wild fowl.

One day the sister Kauaki'owao told her brother that she wanted to bathe and complained of the lack of water around their home. Her brother hushed her complaint by telling her that it was a safe place where their stepmother would not be likely to look for them; then he promised he would try to get her some water.

In his trips around the neighborhood for fruits and greens, he had noticed a large rainwater pond called Kanawai to the east of the hill on which they lived. At this pond, he would sometimes snare wild ducks. He also met the Kakea water god, a mo'o (lizard), who controlled all the water sources of Manoa and Makiki Valleys. The god was a maternal ancestors of the children and was on the best of terms with Kauawa'ahila. The boy paid him a visit and asked him to assist in opening a watercourse from the pond of Kanawai to a place he indicated just below the caves he inhabited with his sister. The old water god not only consented to help his young relative, but promised to divide the water supply of the neighboring Wailele spring and let it run into the watercourse that the boy would make, thus insuring a permanent water supply (c).

Kauawa'ahila then went to the pond of Kanawai and dove in. The water god caused a passage to open underground, and the boy swam through this passage until he came out at the place now known as Ka Punahou ("The New Spring"). The force of the rushing waters as they burst through the ground soon made a small basin, which the boy then banked and walled up, leaving a narrow outlet for surplus water. With the help of the old water god, he immediately set to work to excavate a good-sized pond for his sister to swim in, and when she awoke from a noonday nap, she was astonished to behold a lovely sheet of water where in the morning there was only dry land. Her brother was swimming and splashing about in it, and gaily called to his sister to come and try her bathing-place.

Kauawa'ahila afterward made some kalo patches, and people attracted by the water and consequent fertility of the place, came and settled about, voluntarily offering themselves as vassals to the twins. More and more kalo patches were excavated, and the place became a thriving settlement. The spring, known as Ka Punahou, gave its name to the surrounding area (d).

About this time Kahaakea returned from Hawai'i, and hearing of the persecutions to which his beloved children had been subjected, killed Hawea and then himself. Rocky Hill, as the home of the children is known today, was named after him. Hawea has ever since then been a synonym in the Hawaiian mind for a cruel stepmother.

Kauaki'owao and Kauawa'ahila afterward returned to the home of their infancy, Ka'ala, where they would stay a while, occasionally visiting Konahuanui and upper Manoa Valley, where in their rain and mist form, they may be met with today.

They also occasionally visited Punahou, which was under their special care and protection. But when the land and spring passed into the hands of foreigners, who did not pay homage to the twins, and who allowed the spring to be defiled by the washing of unclean articles and by the bathing of unclean persons, the twins indignantly left the place and retired to the head of Manoa Valley.

They sometimes pass swiftly over their old home on their way to Ka'ala or Konahuanui, and on such occasions will sometimes linger sorrowfully for a few minutes about Rocky Hill. The rainwater pond of Kanawai is now always dry, and the shrubs and bushes which supplied the food of the twins favored of the gods have disappeared. Old natives say that there is now no inducement for the gentle rain of Uaki'owao and Uawa'ahila to visit those bare hills and plains, as they would find no food there(e).


"Punahou," by Emma M. Nakuina, first appeared in Thrum's Hawaiian Annual for 1893 (101-104) under the title "The Punahou Spring"; it was reprinted in Thomas G. Thrum's Hawaiian Folk Tales (133-128). "Kahalaopuna," another famous story of Manoa by Nakuina, can be found in Nanaue the Shark Man and Other Hawaiian Shark Stories (Honolulu: Kalamaku Press 1994).

(a) Wa'ahila is the ridge on the eastern side of Manoa Valley.

(b) Kukaoo Heiau is on the premises of 2859 Manoa Road. "This is a small heiau 50 by 40 feet, said to have been built by the menehune, from whom it was wrested by Kualii [an ali'i of O'ahu; see "Pumaia"] and rebuilt" (Sterling and Summers, 285).

(c) Kanawai suggests "Kanewai," a pool in the quarry area of the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. This pool is said to be connected to the ocean by an underground passage. Kakea, the mo'o god, is the name of a hill called "Sugarloaf" on the ridge extending down from the Ko'olau Mountains to Ualaka'a (Round Top), which overlooks Manoa and Makiki valleys. Wailele is a spring near Mid-Pacific Institute; its water was believed to originate in the heights of Kakea.

(d) Before urbanization, the land in and around Punahou School was extensively cultivated with taro, watered by the spring from which the area and the school take their name.

(e) See the "Waiakeakua" tab above for another story about the origin of Punahou. The following story is found in Sterling and Summers (283-4):

Long ago an aged couple dwelled near the present spring. At a time of drought and famine, the people were obliged to search the mountains for ti root and wild yams for food, and to trudge to Kamo'ili'ili to fill their calabahses with drinking water. One night the old woman dreamed that a man appeared to her, to whom she complained bitterly about having to go so far for water, whereupon he said: "He wai no" ("There is water") and told her that beneath the trunk of an old hala tree nearby she would find it. She awoke her husband and told him the dream, but he made light of it. The next night he had a similar dream. The apparition directed him to go to the sea and catch some red fish, to roast them in ti leaves, reserving a part as an offering to the family deities, and then to pull up the old hala tree by the roots. He awoke, and lo! it was a dream. But the impression it made on him was so strong that in the morning he hastened to carry out the directions which he had received, and when at last he pulled up the hala tree, water oozed out from beneath its roots. He dug out the place, and thus formed the spring, which was named Kapunahou. A pond was formed below the spring, and by it were irrigated a dozen or more taro patches.

From this legend, Punahou School has adopted for her seal the hala tree with two taro leaves in the water flowing under it.

Kapo'i and the Owl God

Pueo: owl

There lived a man named Kapo'i, at Kahehuna, Honolulu. He went one day to Kewalo to get some thatching for his house. On his way back he found some owl eggs, which he gathered together and brought home with him. In the evening he wrapped them in ti leaves and was about to roast them in hot ashes, when an owl perched on the fence surrounding his house and called out to him, "E Kapo'i, give me back my eggs!"

Kapo'i asked the owl, "How many eggs did you have?"

"Seven eggs," replied the owl.

"Well, I plan to roast all seven for my supper."

The owl asked again for its eggs, and Kapo'i again refused. Then the owl said, "E Kapo'i, you're heartless! Why don't you take pity on me? Give me back my eggs."

Kapo'i felt pity for the owl and told her to take the eggs.

Now that it had the eggs, the owl told Kapo'i to build a heiau (temple) in Manoa and instructed him to make an altar and call the temple Manua. Kapo'i built the heiau as directed, set kapu days for its dedication, and placed the customary sacrifice on the altar.

Kakuhihewa, the king of O'ahu, was living at the time in Waikiki. News came to him that Kapo'i had declared some days kapu for a heiau and had already dedicated it. Earlier Kakuhihewa had declared that he would put to death anyone who erected and dedicated a heiau before he himself had dedicated his own temple. So Kapo'i was seized and led to the heiau of Kupalaha, at Waikiki, to be killed.

That same day, the owl that had told Kapo'i to erect a temple gathered all the owls from Lana'i, Maui, Moloka'i, and Hawai'i at Kalapueo ("Owl proclamation") at Makapu'u; all the owls from the Ko'olau districts of O'ahu at Kanoniakapueo ("The noni tree of the owl") in Nu'uanu; and all the owls from Kaua'i and Ni'ihau at Pueohulunui ("Well-feathered owl"), near Moanalua Valley.

Kakuhihewa decided that Kapo'i should be put to death on the day of Kane. When that day came, at daybreak all the owls left their gathering places, darkening the whole sky over Honolulu; and as the King's servants seized Kapo'i to put him to death, the owls flew at them, pecking and scratching them (a). A battle was fought between Kakuhihewa's people and the owls. The owls won, and Kapo'i was released. The King acknowledged that Kapo'i's akua (god) was a powerful one (b), and from that time on, the owl has been recognized as one of the many deities of the Hawaiian people.

"Kapo'i," by Joseph M. Poepoe, is from Thomas Thrum's Hawaiian Folk Tales (200-202). A similar version of the story is found in Samuel M. Kamakau's Tales and Traditions of the People of Old (23).

(a) According to Kamakau, the owls also befouled Kakuhihewa's people with excrement, and hence the place of the battle became known as Kukae-unahi-o-pueo, "Scaly excrement of owls."

(b) Kamakau gives the name of the owl god as Kukauakahi.


Emma M. Nakuina
(Photo: 'Aka'aka ridge, sunlit in the afternoon, behind Manoa Chinese Cemetary)

'Aka'aka ("Laughter")(a) is a spur of the Ko'olau mountains at the head of Manoa Valley, forming the ridge running back to and above Waiakeakua ["The water of the gods"; photo right]. 'Aka'aka was united in marriage to Nalehua'aka'aka, still represented by some lehua bushes on the brow of the ridge. The couple had twins, a boy named Kahaukani and a girl named Kauakuahine. These children were adopted at birth by an ali'i named Kolowahi and his sister Pohakukala, who were cousins of 'Aka'aka. The brother took charge of the boy and the sister took charge of the girl. When the children were grown up, the foster parents decided to reunite them in marriage; and the children, having been brought up separately and in ignorance of their relationship, made no objections. They were accordingly married,and a girl was born to them and given the name Kahalaopuna (b). Thus Kolowahi and Pohakukala, by uniting the twins in marriage, made permanent the union of rain (Kauakuahine) and wind (Kahaukani) for which Manoa valley is noted; and the fruits of this union was the most beautiful woman of her time. So Manoa girls, foster children of the Manoa rains and winds, have generally been supposed to have inherited the beauty of Kahalaopuna.

A house was built for Kahalaopuna at Kahaiamano on the road to Waiakeakua, and there she lived with a few attendants. The house was surrounded by a fence of 'auki, with a pulo'ulo'u (a pole topped by a ball of white kapa) placed on each side of the gate, indicating kapu, or forbidden, ground, because the person or persons inhabiting the premises were of the highest rank and sacred.

Kahalaopuna was very beautiful from her earliest childhood. Her checks were so red and her face so bright that a glow emanated from them and shone through the thatch of her house when she was inside; a rosy light seemed to envelop the house, and bright rays constantly played over the house. When she went to bathe in the spring below her house, the rays of light surrounded her like a halo. The natives maintain that this bright light is still occasionally seen at Kahaiamano, indicating that the spirit of Kahalaopuna is revisiting her old home.

She was betrothed in childhood to Kauhi, a young ali'i of Kailua, in Ko'olau. His parents realized the great honor the planned union of their son with the Princess of Manoa would bring them. Kahalaopuna was deemed of a semi-supernatural descent. So they always sent the poi of Kailua and the fish of Kawainui for the girl's table, and Kahalaopuna was brought up entirely on the food of her prospective husband.

When she had grown to young womanhood, she was so exquisitely beautiful that the people of the valley would make visits to the outer pulo'ulo'u at the sacred precinct of Lua'alaea, the land adjoining Kahaiamano, just to get a glimpse of the beauty as she went to and from the spring (c). In this way, the fame of her surpassing loveliness was spread all over the valley and came to the ears of two men, Kumauna and Keawaa, both of whom were disfigured by a contraction of the lower eyelids known as makahelei ("drawn eyes") (d). Neither of these men had ever seen Kahalaopuna, but they fell in love with her from hearsay. Not daring to court her because of their disfigurement, they would weave and deck themselves with lei of maile, ginger, and ferns, then go to Waikiki for surf-bathing and indulge in boasting of their conquest of Kahalaopuna, claiming the lei they wore were love-gifts from her.

Now, when the waves of Kalehuawehe at Waikiki were just right for surfing, people from all parts of the island came to enjoy the delightful sport. Kauhi, the betrothed of Kahalaopuna, was one of these. The time set for his marriage to Kahalaopuna was drawing near, but he had not yet seen her. Hearing the frequently repeated claims of the two makahelei men, Kauhi finally believed them, and he was so filled with jealous rage, he was determined to kill her (e)

He started for Manoa at dawn, and when he reached Mahinauli, in mid-valley, he rested under a hala tree growing in a grove of wiliwili. He sat there some time, brooding over the fancied injury to himself and nursing his wrath. As he resumed his walk, he broke off and carried along with him a bunch of hala nuts. At noon he reached Kahaiamano and presented himself before the house of Kahalaopuna. The latter had just awakened from a sleep and was lying on a pile of mats facing the door, thinking of going to the spring, her usual bathing-place.

She saw a stranger at her door. She looked at him for a while; then guessing from often repeated descriptions of her betrothed that this stranger was he, she asked him to enter. Kauhi refused and asked her to come outside. The young girl had been so accustomed from early childhood to consider herself as belonging to Kauhi and being indebted to him for her daily food that she obeyed him unhesitatingly.

He perhaps intended to kill her then, but the girl's obedience and her extreme loveliness made him hesitate for a while; and after looking intently at her for some time, he told her to go and bathe and then prepare herself to accompany him on a ramble about the woods.

While Kahalaopuna was bathing, Kauhi remained moodily seated where she had left him and watched the bright glow, like rainbow rays, playing above the spring. He was alternately filled with jealousy, regret, and longing for the great beauty of the girl; but he did not relent in his dreadful purpose. He seemed to resent his betrothed's supposed infidelity the more because she had thrown herself away on such unworthy persons, who were, moreover, ugly and disfigured, while he himself was not only a person of rank and distinction, but was also considered very handsome.

When Kahalaopuna was ready, he motioned her to follow him and turned to go without a word. They went across Kumakaha to Hualea, when the girl said, "Why don't you stay and have something to eat before we go?"

He answered rather surlily, "I don't care to eat; I have no appetite."

He looked so sternly at her as he said this that she cried out, "Are you annoyed with me? Have I displeased you in any way?"

He kept on his way, and she followed, till they came to a large stone in 'Aihualama [a stream and trail on the west side of upper Manoa valley; the trail goes over a ridge, from Manoa Valley to Nu'uanu Valley]. Then he turned abruptly and looked at the young girl with an expression of mingled longing and hate. At last, with a deep sigh, he said, "You are beautiful, my betrothed, but, as you have been false, you must die."

The young girl looked up in surprise at these strange words, and saw only hatred and deadly purpose in Kauhi's eyes; so she replied: "If I have to die, why didn't you kill me at home, so that my people could have buried my bones; but you brought me to the wild woods, and who will bury me here? If you think I have been false to you, why not seek proof before believing it?" (f).

But Kauhi would not listen to her appeal. Perhaps it only reminded him of what he considered his great loss. He struck her across the temple with the heavy bunch of hala nuts he had broken off at Mahinauli and still carried. The blow killed the girl instantly, and Kauhi hastily dug a hole under the side of the large stone and buried her; then he started down the valley toward Waikiki. As soon as he was gone, a large owl, who was a god and a relative of Kahalaopuna and who had followed her from home, immediately set to digging the body out. Then brushing the dirt carefully off with its wings and breathing into the girl's nostrils, the owl restored her to life. It rubbed its face against the bruise on the temple and healed it immediately.

Pueo: owl

Kauhi had not advanced very far on his way when he heard the voice of Kahalaopuna singing a lament over his unkindness and beseeching him to believe her, or, at least, prove his accusation. Hearing her voice, Kauhi returned, and, seeing the owl flying above her, recognized the means of her resurrection. He approached the girl and ordered her to follow him. They went up the side of the ridge which divides Manoa Valley from Nu'uanu. It was hard work for the tenderly nurtured maiden to climb the steep mountain ridge, at one time crawling through a thorny tangle of underbrush, and at another clinging against the bare face of the rocks while holding on to swinging vines for support. Kauhi never offered to assist her, but kept going, only looking back occasionally to see that she was following. When they arrived at the summit of the divide between the two valleys, she was all scratched and bruised, with her pa'u, or skirt, in tatters. Seating herself on a stone to regain her breath, she asked Kauhi where they were going. He never answered, but struck her again with the hala branch, killing her instantly, as before. He dug a hole near where she lay and buried her, then started for Waikiki by way of Kakea ridge.

As soon as he was out of sight, the owl again scratched away the dirt and restored the girl to life. Again she followed after her betrothed, singing a song of love and regret for his anger, and pleading with him to lay aside his unjust suspicions. On hearing her voice again, Kauhi returned and ordered her to follow him. They descended into upper Nu'uanu Valley at Kaniakapupu and crossed over to Waolani ridge, where he killed and buried the faithful girl a third time; and again the owl restored her.

On his way back to Waikiki, Kauhi again heard her singing a song describing the perils and difficulties of their journey, and she again ended by pleading for pardon for the unknown fault. The wretched man, on hearing her voice again, was enraged. His repeated acts of cruelty and the suffering of the girl, far from softening his heart, only served to render him more brutal, and to extinguish what little spark of kindly feeling he might have had originally. His only thought was to kill her for good, and thus obtain some satisfaction for his wasted poi and fish. He returned to her and ordered her, as before, to follow him. He started for Kilohana, at the head of Kalihi Valley, where he beat her to death again.

She was again restored by the owl and made her resurrection known by singing to her cruel lover. This time he took her across gulches, ravines, and plains, until they arrived at Pohakea, on the 'Ewa slope of the Ka'ala Mountains, where he killed her a fifth time and buried her under a large koa tree (g). The faithful owl tried to scrape the dirt away, so as to get at the body of the girl, but his claws became entangled in the numerous roots and rootlets which Kauhi had been careful not to cut away. The more the owl scratched, the more deeply tangled he got, and finally, with bruised claws and ruffled feathers, he had to give up the idea of rescuing the girl; and perhaps he thought it useless, as she would be sure to make her resurrection known to Kauhi and be killed for a sixth time. So the owl left and followed Kauhi on his return to Waikiki.

There had been another witness to Kauhi's cruelties, and that was 'Elepaio, a little green bird, a cousin to Kahalaopuna.


As soon as this bird saw that the owl had deserted the body of Kahalaopuna, it flew straight to Kahaukani and Kauakuahine and told them of all that had happened. The girl had been missed, but, as some of the servants had recognized Kauhi, and had seen the couple leave together for what they supposed was a ramble in the adjoining woods, no one had felt great anxiety. But when 'Elepaio told its tale, there was great consternation, and even positive disbelief; for how could any one in his senses, they argued, be guilty of such cruelty to such a lovely, innocent being, and to one, too, belonging entirely to himself?

In the meantime, the spirit of the murdered girl revealed itself to a party who were passing by; and one of them, a young man, moved with compassion, went to the tree indicated by the spirit, removed the dirt and roots, and found the body, still warm. He wrapped it in his kihei, and then covered it entirely with maile, ferns, and ginger, and, making a ha'awe, or back-load, carried it to his home at Kamo'ili'ili [Mo'ili'ili]. There, he entrusted the body to his elder brother, who called upon two spirit sisters of theirs, with whose aid they finally succeeded in restoring the body to life. In the course of the treatment she was frequently taken to an underground water-cave called Mauoki for kakelekele (hydropathic cure). The water-cave has ever since been known as the "Water of Kahalaopuna" (h).

The young man who rescued her from the grave naturally wanted her to become his bride; but the girl refused, saying that as long as Kauhi lived, she was his, and none other's, as her very body had been nourished on his food, and was as much his property as the food had been.

The elder brother then counselled the younger to seek, in some way, to kill Kauhi. To this end, they conspired with the parents of Kahalaopuna to keep her last resurrection secret. The young man then set to work to learn all the mele (songs) Kahalaopuna had sung to Kauhi during that fatal journey. When he knew these songs well, he sought the houses where the ali'i played kilu (a chanting and kissing game) because he was sure Kauhi would be found there.

One day when Kauhi was playing kilu, this young man placed himself on the opposite side, and as Kauhi's turn ended, he took up the kilu and chanted the first of Kahalaopuna's mele.

Kauhi was very much surprised, and contrary to the etiquette of the game of kilu, stopped the young man in his play to ask him where he had learned the mele. The young man answered he had learned it from Kahalaopuna, the famous Manoa beauty, who was a friend of his sister's and who was now on a visit at their house. Kauhi, knowing the owl had deserted the body of the girl, felt certain she was really dead and accused the young man of lying. This led to an angry, stormy scene, and the antagonists had to be kept apart by order of the King.

The next night found them both at the kilu house, and when the young man sang the second of Kahalaopuna's mele, another angry discussion took place. Again the two antagonists were separated by others. On the third night, the third mele was sung, and the dispute between the two men became so violent that Kauhi finally said that the Kahalaopuna his rival knew must be an impostor, as he himself was certain the real young woman of that name was dead. Kauhi then dared his rival to produce Kahalaopuna; and if the woman was not the genuine one, then his rival should be killed; on the other hand, if the woman proved to be Kahalaopuna, then Kauhi should be declared the liar and pay for his insults with his life.

This was just what the young man had been scheming for, and he quickly assented to the challenge, calling on the King and the other ali'i to take notice of the terms of the bet and see that the terms were enforced.

On the appointed day Kahalaopuna went to Waikiki, attended by her parents, relatives, servants, and the two spirit sisters, who had assumed human form for that day so as to accompany their friend and advise her if necessary. 'Aka'aka, the grandfather, who had been residing in Waikiki some little time previous to the dispute between the young men, was appointed one of the judges at the approaching trial.

Kauhi had consulted the priests and sorcerers of his family as to the possibility of the murdered girl having assumed human shape for the purpose of working him some injury. Kaea, a famous priest and seer of his family, told him to have large leaves of 'ape spread where Kahalaopuna and her party were to be seated. If she were a spirit, she would not be able to tear the 'ape leaf on which she would be seated; but if she were human, the leaf would be torn. With the permission of the King, the leaves were spread. The King, surrounded by the highest chiefs and a vast assemblage from all parts of the island, was there to witness the test.

When Kahalaopuna and her party were on the road to the scene of the test, her spirit friends informed her of the 'ape leaves, and advised her to trample on them so as to tear them as much as possible, as they, being spirits, would be unable to tear the leaves on which they would be seated, and if anyone's attentions were drawn to them, they would be found out and killed by the po'e po'i 'uhane (spirit catchers).

The young girl faithfully performed what was required of her. Kaea, seeing the torn leaves, remarked that she was evidently human, but that he felt the presence of spirits and would watch for them, certain they were in some way connected with the girl. 'Aka'aka then told him to look in a calabash of water, where he would in all probability see the spirits. The seer, in his eagerness to unravel the mystery, forgot his usual caution and ordered a vessel of water to be brought. Looking in, he saw only his own reflection. 'Aka'aka at that moment caught the reflection of the seer (which was his spirit), and crushed it between his palms; at that moment the seer dropped down dead. 'Aka'aka now turned around and opened his arms and embraced Kahalaopuna, thus acknowledging her as his own beloved granddaughter.

The King now demanded of the girl and of Kauhi an account of all that had happened between them and of the reported death of the maiden. They both told their stories, Kauhi ascribing his anger to hearing the claims of the two disfigured men, Kumauna and Keawaa. These two, on being confronted with the girl, confessed that they had never seen her before and that all their words had been idle boasts. The King then said: "As your fun has cost this innocent girl so much suffering, you two and Kauhi must be killed at once, as a matter of justice; and if your gods are powerful enough to restore you, so much the better for you."

Two large imu (earth ovens) had been heated by the followers of the two rivals, in anticipation of the judgment. Kauhi and the two mischief-makers, Kumauna and Keawaa, were baked therein, along with those of their followers and retainers who preferred to die with their chiefs.

The greater number of Kauhi's people were so incensed with his cruelty to Kahalaopuna that they transferred their allegiance to her, offering to be her vassals as restitution, in part, for the undeserved sufferings borne by her at the hands of their cruel chief. The King gave her for a bride to the young man who had not only saved her, but had been the means of avenging her wrongs.

The imu in which Kauhi and his companions were baked were on the side of the stream of 'Apuakehau in the famous Ulukou grove [in Waikiki], and very near the sea. The night following their deaths, a great tidal wave, sent in by a powerful old shark god, a relative of Kauhi's, swept over the site of the two imu and in the morning, their contents were gone. The bones had been taken by the old shark into the sea. The chiefs Kumauna and Keawaa were, through the power of their family gods, transformed into the two peaks at the eastern corner of Manoa Valley(i), while Kauhi and his followers were turned into sharks.

Kahalaopuna lived happily with her husband for about two years. Her grandfather, knowing of Kauhi's transformation and aware of his vindictive nature, strictly forbade her from ever going into the sea. She remembered and heeded the warning during those two years. But one day, her husband and all their men went to Manoa to cultivate kalo, and she was left alone with her maid servants.

The surf was in fine sporting condition, and a number of young women were surf-riding. Kahalaopuna longed to join them. She disregarded her grandfather's warning, and as soon as her mother fell asleep, she slipped out with one of her maids, went to the beach, and paddled out on a surfboard. Kauhi saw his opportunity, and when she was fairly outside the reef, he bit her in two and held the upper half of the body up out of the water, so that all the surf-bathers would see and know that he had at last obtained his revenge.

Mano: shark

Immediately on her death, the spirit of the young woman went back and told her sleeping mother of what had happened. The mother woke up, and, noticing her daughter was missing, gave the alarm. Her alarm was soon confirmed by the terrified surf-bathers, who had all fled ashore at seeing the terrible fate of Kahalaopuna. Canoes were launched and manned, and chase given to the shark and his prey, which could be easily tracked by a trail of blood.

Kauhi swam just far enough below the surface of the water to be visible, and yet too far to be reached by the fishing-spears of his pursuers. He led them on a long chase to Wai'anae; then, in a sandy opening in the bottom of the sea, where everything was visible to the pursuers, he ate up the young woman, so she could never again be restored to life.

Her parents, on hearing of her end, retired to Manoa Valley, and gave up their human life, resolving themselves into their supernatural elements. Kahaukani, the father, is known as the Manoa wind, but his usual and visible form is the grove of hau (hibiscus) trees, below Kahaiamano. Kauakuahine, the mother, assumed her rain form, and is very often to be met with about the former home of her beloved child.

The grandparents also gave up their human forms and returned to Manoa, the one to his mountain form, and the other into the lehua bushes still to be found on the very brow of the hill from which they keep watch over the old home of their petted and adored grandchild(j)


Emma M. Nakuina's "Kahalaopuna" was published in three versions­under the title "Kahalaopuna: a Legend of Manoa Valley" in Saturday Press, Dec. 8, 1883; under the title "The Valley of Rainbows" in Hawaii, Its People, Their Legends (41-45); and under the title "Kahalaopuna, Princess of Manoa" in Thrum's Hawaiian Folk Tales (118-132). Nakuina seems to have been the source for the version of "Kahalaopuna, the Princess of Manoa" which appeared in Kalakaua's The Legends and Myths of Hawaii (509-522), which was published in 1888.

(a) Mary Kawena Pukui, in Place Names of Hawaii, gives the pronunciation of this place name as Akaka, "Clearness."

(b) Marriage between brother and sister was practiced to intensify the divine mana (power) of an ali'i family.

(c) Lua'alaea ("pit of iron-rich red earth") is the stream and land section to the east of Waihi (Manoa Falls) on the west side of upper Manoa Valley.

(d) Makahelei, "drawn eyes" was an affliction that could be a punishment for breaking the kapu of one's 'aumakua: the wrongdoer "would become humpbacked, or his eyelids would be drawn down, or he would fall lame, or suffer with chronic stomach ache or consumption­or he might be killed outright." (Kamakau, The People of Old 90).

(e) "Legends suggest a high value was placed on virginity. However, this was true only among the ali'i.Hawaii's aristocratic maidens were supposed to be untouched, not because of morality or prudery, but because genealogy of a possible child was all-important. Mrs. Pukui sums up the traditional viewpoint: 'Hawaiians placed very high value on virginity when a girl was reserved for the ali'i. Ali'i were considered to be under the keeping of the gods. After a woman married to an ali'i gave birth to the wanted child, then she was not prohibited from having other love affairs. But the genealogy of this important first child must be perfectly clear. There must be no doubt about his blood lines'" (Pukui, Haertig, and Lee 201).

(f) Kahalaopuna's pleading is related to a tradition of the owl clan to which she belongs: at Pu'u Pueo ("Owl Hill") in Manoa valley, "an avenging spirit in the form of a pueo sought to execute judgment upon a culprit for some alleged transgression, but upon the pleading of the accused for a hearing before executing punishment, it thereafter became the established custom that none should be condemned till tried and proven guilty" (Sterling and Summers 285).

(g) Kauhi takes Kahalaopuna on a westward journey away from the protection of her owl god, her family and her home in Manoa valley and toward the setting sun, associated in Hawaiian and Polynesian traditions with death.

(h) Mauoki was also a heiau located in Mo'ili'ili, at the foot of the ridge between Manoa and Palolo valleys. The underground pool of the same name was possibly nearby. The young man who rescues Kahalaopuna is called "Mahana" in the Kalakaua version of the story.

(i) In a later version of the Kahalaopuna story, Nakuina writes: "In the eastern corner of Manoa Valley can be seen the peak of Kumauna, with a hump on the back of the ridge leading up to the peak, and alongside of it the ravine of Keawawa-Kiihelei. These places belonged to and are called after the two wicked men who were the cause of the sad death of Kahalaopuna" (Hawaii Its People, Their Legends 45). "Awawa" is a gulch or ravine; "Ki'ihelei" means "to straddle."

(j)The following version of the story of Kahalaopuna is found in Fornander's Collection of Hawaiian Antiquities and Folklore (Vol. 5, 189-194).

Manoa on O'ahu is the land to which Kahalaopuna was born; and Kahoiwai [a land section in upper Manoa Valley] was the site of her house. Kauakuahine was her father, and Kahoiamano was her mother. Kahalaopuna was a beautiful young girl; full of grace and vigor; a virgin, her ma'i (genitalia) unbroken. Her parents placed her body under kapu for Kauhi, a prominent man who lived with Kakuhihewa, the ali'i of O'ahu. Kauhi was from a place called 'Alele in Kailua, Ko'olau.

When Kauhi heard that Kahalaopuna was his, he provided her with all sorts of goods; but after several anahulu (ten-day periods), he discovered an offense. Some people who wanted Kahalaopuna dead slandered her. They traveled from Manoa to Ko'olau, and when Kauhi received them, they told him this lie: "How strange is your woman, Kahalaopuna! Two nights of hula, and on each night a new lover." When Kauhi heard this lie from these men, he said to himself: "I'll kill her, for she has consumed the goods of my haku (lord), and now, her ma'i has been broken and cleaved."

Kauhi climbed over to Manoa and found Kahalaopuna, and told her to go with him to Pohakea, in the uplands 'Ewa near the mountain of Ka'ala. On the way, she wondered why they were going there. They took the mountain trail where people seldom passed, going over Pauoa and Waolani, then along the uplands of Kalihi and so on to Manana, where they slept overnight. Kahalaopuna's hands were bound together securely by Kauhi, so when her leaf-skirt began falling apart, she was unable to repair it.

At daylight, they resumed their journey until they reached Pohakea, where they climbed up the slope to a large ohi'a lehua tree. There, Kauhi called Kahalaopuna to him. She thought his calling meant things were all right, but no! As she stood in front of Kauhi, he said: "Lie down." Kahalaopuna laid down, and Kauhi said "I am going to kill you, for you have consumed the goods of my haku, yet you have been deflowered, broken into and cleaved open, but not by me."

Kahalaopuna answered: "My husband, lie with me; if the ma'i has been broken, I deserve to die; but if it hasn't been broken, don't kill me." Kauhi tore off an ohi'a lehua branch and began striking Kahalaopuna with it; while he was striking her a second and third time, Kahalaopuna chanted the following:

My husband from the uplands of Kahoiwai,
From the vine-covered trees of the uplands
My husband of Kahaimano! Au-we!
Your jealousy is like a shark,
Returning swiftly to devour me,
My great love for you is destroyed. Au-we!

Kauhi again said to her: "You shall not live because your ma'i has been broken." Kahalaopuna answered: "Sleep with me, my husband, and if the ma'i has been broken, I deserve to die." Kauhi leaped at her again and beat her until she was almost dead; again Kahalaopuna chanted:

My husband from the dust-cloud of Kawiliwili,
Over the sunny plain at Mahinauli.
The dark surface reminds me of you.
Au-we! I anxiously await the sudden shower,
The wind from the face of Pokiikaua,
My dusky husband at Mana!
I'm being beaten unjustly,
While I stand gazing there,
Ready to weep,
My tears well up, well up,
Au-we! Au-we, my dear friend!

At this Kauhi leaped at her again, beating her with the stick. On the verge of death Kahalaopuna called out: "May you be loved! Let's touch noses, my husband, before I die. Tell our parents of my love for them." Kauhi then said: "Don't give me any messages; you've been defiled, so you must be killed." He struck her again and again with the stick and killed her. Kauhi dragged the corpse under the lehua tree and covered the body with leaves, sticks, and other debris, so it could not be found. Then he returned home. The spirit of Kahalaopuna flew to the top of the 'ohi'a lehua tree and chanted the following:

E you group of passers-by,
Go to my parents
And tell them of Kahalaopuna's death;
Here in the uplands of Pohakea,
Under the lehua tree.

Kahalaopuna had seen a company of people passing along the trail, which was why she chanted thus. At the end of the chant, the people stood and listened, uncertain whether the voice was a person speaking, or the wind, or the squeak of trees rubbing together.

Kahalaopuna chanted a second time, and the people recognized it was the spirit of a dead person speaking, so they went to Manoa and told the parents of Kahalaopuna what they had heard. After listening to them, the parents went to the place where their daughter had been killed. When they arrived at Pohakea at the lehua tree where the body had been buried, they dug the body up and returned to Manoa, where they worked over it until Kahalaopuna was alive again, just as before.

When the news of the restoration of Kahalaopuna reached Kauhi at Ko'olau, he came up to see her, to greet her [have sex with her], to show her kindness; but Kahalaopuna rejected him.  

'Aumakua of Kona, O'ahu

Dennis Kawaharada

In 1979, I moved into a 6th-floor apartment at the foot of 'Ualaka'a ("Rolling Sweet Potato"), a hill in Makiki at the border of Manoa, in the Kona district of O'ahu, which encompasses the city of Honolulu. Makiki is in a climatic transition zone between the cool, rainy Ko'olau mountains and valleys, and the hot, arid coastal plains. On most days, clouds form along the summit ridge of the Ko'olaus. When rain drifts down the valleys, and sunshine prevails along the coast, rainbows often appear, marking the boundary between wet and dry.

Makiki, named for a type of stone found here, is one of the most densely populated areas of Honolulu, with high-rise condominiums alternating with low apartment buildings along its narrow streets. Urban apartment living is about as far as you can get from the life of farming and fishing of ancient Hawai'i; one could live a lifetime in a concrete cubicle in Honolulu, commuting over asphalt roads and freeways to and from work at another cubicle; frequenting supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and sports arenas; or staring into the virtual reality of television and computer screens, linked electronically to America, Europe, and Asia­ without any connection to the storied landscape outside.

1. Mo'o / Water Lizard

Gecko: lizard petroglyph

To the east of Makiki lies Manoa ("Wide"), a U-shaped valley with six streams (Aihualama, Waihi, Lua'alaea, Naniu'apo, Wa'aloa, and Waiakeakua) flowing down from the Ko'olaus into Manoa Stream and out to sea at Waikiki (since the 1920's, into the Ala Wai Canal). Today Manoa is a middle-class residential district of mainly single family homes; in former times it was filled with lo'i (taro ponds): "In upper Manoa, the whole of the level land in the valley bottom was developed in broad taro flats. The terraces extended along Manoa Stream as far as there is a suitable land for irrigating" (Sterling and Summers 282).

Manoa down to Mo'ili'ili was known for its mo'o­water spirits, usually female, in the form of large lizards. Mo'o are 'aumakua, or ancestral gods, who protect their descendants from danger or sorcery, heal sickness or wounds, and forgive transgressions; they can restore a person to life or guide the spirit of the dead to join the spirits of its ancestors in the afterworld: "O ke ola ia a ka 'aumakua" ("Life from the 'aumakua") is the saying (Kamakau People 28). The 'aumakua can also be an avenger against one's enemies or against worshipers who break vows sworn in the name of the 'aumakua "or who stupidly eat things consecrated to them, or which are the forms [of their 'aumakua], or who eat defiled things; who break laws, commit adultery, and disregard the laws of God, of the land, of parents, husbands, wives, children, and relatives" (People 29). These spiritual beings take the visible bodies of natural elements (thunder, lightning, lava or volcanic fire), or animals, such as the pueo (owl), mano (shark), honu (turtle), puhi (eel), or mo'o.

The mo'o is black, between twelve and thirty feet long (Kamakau People 83). As no such large water lizards ever existed in Hawai'i, it may be an ancestral memory of the crocodiles or Komodo dragons of the Indonesian archipelago. Small skinks and geckos are considered by some to be kinolau, or bodies, of the mo'o (Handy and Pukui 125). Kamakau denies this, though he says "one can imagine the shape [of a mo'o] from these little creatures" (People 83). The 'o'opu, a lizard-looking fish that lives in streams and tide pools, is also considered by some to be a kinolau of the mo'o.

According to Beckwith, mo'o worship was brought to Hawai'i from Tahiti, where the mo'o was worshiped by the royal Oropa'a family (Hawaiian Mythology 128). The mo'o migration came under the ali'i Mo'o-i-nanea ("lizard-that-enjoys-itself") and landed first at Waialua, O'ahu (Handy and Pukui 125). The ancestral mo'o goddesses were named Walinu'u, Walimanoanoa, Kalamainu'u, and Kihawahine (Kamakau People 85).

The rainy cliffs and mountain peaks, waterfalls, springs, streams, and pools of Manoa were dwelling places for mo'o. A mo'o lived on Konahuanui, the highest peak in the Ko'olaus, above the back of the valley (Summers and Sterling 312); the area around her home is the second rainiest on O'ahu, averaging 150 inches per year. At Pu'ahu'ula ("Spring of the Red Feather Cape"), in upper Manoa, the mo'o goddess Kihanuilulumoku lived; her water nourishes the plants of Wa'aloa ("Long Canoe"), the second stream from the east. Pali Luahine ("Luahine's Cliff"), on the east side above Woodlawn, was the home of Luahine, a mo'o who came from Maunalua Fishpond (Summers and Sterling 290). Mo'ili'ili ("Lizard-pebbles," or "Lizard Piled-up"), on the coastal plain below the valley, is named for a giant mo'o slain by Pele's sister Hi'iaka and turned into a long rocky hill. (Pukui et al, Place Names; Sterling and Summers 277-78; the hill, cut through by the H-1 Freeway, is across from Kuhio School).

Mo'o were also guardians and caretakers of fishponds. On O'ahu, Kanekua'ana was the guardian of 'Ewa and the fishponds of Pu'uloa ("Long Hill," Pearl Harbor); she brought an abundance of pipi (oysters), 'opae (shrimp), and nehu (anchovy). Laniwahine was the guardian of 'Uko'a fishpond in Waialua; Hauwahine guarded the ponds at Kawainui and Ka'elepulu in Kailua, Ko'oluapoko; and Laukupu the pond at Maunalua, on the east end of Honolulu. "They were the guardians who brought the blessing of abundance of fish, and of health to the body, and who warded off illness and preserved the welfare of the family and their friends" (Kamakau People 84). When the chiefs or their agents abused the poor and the fatherless, the mo'o guardians took the fish away­until the wrongdoers showed penitence and made restitution to their victims (Kamakau People 85).

"Punahou," by Emma M. Nakuina, tells a tradition of the creation of Punahou Spring by a mo'o god named Kakea. (The story was published in Thrum's Hawaiian Annual in 1893 and reprinted in Ancient O'ahu 45-50. The author was born in Manoa in 1847, the daughter of Theophilus Metcalf, a sugar planter and government surveyor, and Kaili Kapuolono, an ali'i; the well-known writer Moses K. Nakuina was her second husband.)

The main characters in "Punahou" are twin rain spirits: a boy named Kauawa'ahila (a rain of Nu'uanu and Manoa) and his sister Kauaki'owao (a rain and fog carried on a cool mountain breeze). The twins were abused and neglected by an evil stepmother named Hawea while their father Kaha'akea was away on Hawai'i Island. The siblings fled from their home near Mount Ka'ala, the highest peak on O'ahu (4,020 ft.) to Konahuanui above Manoa. The affinity of the twins for mountain peaks suggests their rain cloud forms and also their mo'o ancestry; their flight from Ka'ala to Konahuanui depicts the movement of rain clouds associated with cold fronts which sweep over the islands from west to east during the rainy season of Ho'oilo (October to April).

Pursued by their mean-spirited stepmother, the twins fled from Konahuanui to the head of Manoa Valley. Like a cold north wind behind a passing front, Hawea followed her stepchildren to the head of the valley, so the twins went down the valley to Kukaoo Hill (where a heiau is located, at 2859 Manoa Road); then to the rocky hill behind Punahou School. The movement of the twins down the valley represents the path of the rains called Kauawa'ahila and Kauaki'owao sweeping from the wet uplands toward the dry plains. Each stop is drier than the last, with less food. At Kukaoo hill, the twins planted and ate sweet potatoes, a dry-land crop, not as prized as the wetland taro of the upper valley. At the rocky hill near the mouth of the valley, they lived on leaves, flowers, and fruits and on "grasshoppers and sometimes wild fowl." The rocky hill marks a rain boundary: it may be pouring rain in the upper valley, while it is sunny and dry below the hill.

At their home near the hill, the sister Kauaki'owao asked her brother Kauawa'ahila for a pool to bathe in. The brother went to a pond called Kanawai (perhaps Kanewai, near the mouth of Manoa, said to be connected by an underground stream to the sea; see Sterling and Summers 281); there he called on the mo'o Kakea, a maternal ancestor, who "controlled all the water sources of Manoa and Makiki Valleys." (Kakea is also the name of a bluff on the west side of Manoa Valley, and the name of a stormy wind of Manoa.) Kakea helped his grandson Kauawa'ahila by digging an underground tunnel from Kanawai to the rocky hill in Makiki to supply the pool of water his sister Kauaki'owao desired; the god also promised to ensure the supply by diverting some water from Wailele Spring (near Mid-Pacific Institute; the water is said to come from the heights of Kakea). Thus a new spring, called Punahou, was created below the rocky hill, and Kauawa'ahila invited his sister in for a swim. (The first artesian well in Honolulu was drilled near Punahou, on Wilder Avenue near Metcalf Street, in 1880; water was struck at a depth of 273 feet; Fujimura and Chang 18.)

Later, Kauawa'ahila planted kalo around the spring, and "people attracted by the water and consequent fertility of the place came and settled about, voluntarily offering themselves as vassals to the twins. More and more kalo patches were excavated, and the place became a thriving settlement. The new spring, Punahou, gave its name to the surrounding area." In the meantime, the father of the twins, Kaha'akea, returned from Hawai'i Island and killed his wife Hawea for persecuting his children, then took his own life. The rocky hill is named after him. (It is also called Rocky Hill and Pu'u o Manoa). The two rain deities returned home to Mt. Ka'ala, only "occasionally visiting Konahuanui and upper Manoa Valley, where in their rain and mist form, they may be met with today."

"Punahou" can be read in a Euromerican context as a fairy tale, with an archetypal evil stepmother, like the stepmother in Cinderella. The theme of cruelty and revenge is commonplace in such tales, and Hawea, Nakuina notes, has become "a synonym in the Hawaiian mind for a cruel stepmother."

In the context of Hawaiian culture, however, the story also describes rainfall patterns in Makiki and Manoa and an innovation in agriculture (digging an irrigation tunnel to make relatively dry lands productive); it also establishes water rights at the new spring. Traditionally, water rights in 'auwai, or irrigation works, were divided proportionately among those who built it. The more work or workers a kalo farmer was able to provide for building and maintaining an 'auwai, the more of its water he could claim. The water at Punahou was kapu to Kauawa'ahila and Kauaki'owao and their descendants because their 'aumakua Kakea dug the tunnel that brought the water to the area. In "Ancient Hawaiian Water Rights and Some of the Customs Pertaining to Them," Nakuina, who served as Commissioner of Private Ways and Water Rights in the district of Kona, O'ahu, describes how the konohiki of an ahupua'a also served as its luna wai, in charge of distributing water: "The konohiki of the land controlling the most water rights in a given 'auwai was invariably its luna. He controlled and gave the proportions of water to mo'o'aina, or single holdings, of the common people cultivating on that land" (80). The mo'o gods who had created the numerous underground channels connecting springs and ponds in Manoa and Makiki, were the luna wai of the waters.

The story of the twin rain spirits does not end happily ever after, as a European fairy-tale might, with the death of the cruel stepmother. Once the land around Punahou fell into "the hands of foreigners, who did not pay homage to the twins, and who allowed the spring to be defiled by the washing of unclean articles and by the bathing of unclean persons, the twins indignantly left the place and retired to the head of Manoa Valley." Thereafter, "the rainwater pond of Kanawai dried up." The rains Kauaki'owao and Kauawa'ahila still fall in Manoa valley, but not as frequently over Kaha'akea as they did in previous time: "Old natives say that there is now no inducement for the gentle rain of Uaki'owao and Uawa'ahila to visit those bare hills and plains, as they would find no food there."

As in other Hawaiian narratives, there is a reciprocal relationship between the story and its setting: the story explains the relative aridity of the Punahou area today, while the aridity of the area confirms the reality of the story.

2. Pueo / Owl

Pueo: owl

"Kahalaopuna," another story by Emma M. Nakuina, tells a tradition of the pueo clan of Manoa. (The story was published in Thrum's Hawaiian Annual in 1907 and is reprinted in Nakuina, Nanaue 33-45.) The pueo, or the native Hawaiian owl, inhabits all the islands; its favorite haunt is open grasslands, where it can be seen, both day and night, flying low over the terrain hunting for rodents. Munro wrote in 1944: "It nests in grass tufts in a hollow in the earth. The eggs are white and almost round.It was a common bird in the eighteen-nineties, but so many of its hunting grounds have been taken up for agriculture that its numbers have decreased" (67); in 1987 Pratt noted that the pueo was "uncommon" (216), with many more acres of their open hunting grounds now replaced by urban and suburban development.

The pueo was the 'aumakua of Kahalaopuna. Her grandfather was 'Aka'aka ("Laughter," or, according to Pukui's Place Names, "Akaka"­"Clearness"), a ridge on the east side of Manoa; her grandmother was Nalehua'aka'aka, "The lehua bushes of 'Aka'aka," an 'ohi'a lehua bush growing on the ridge. Her parents were the twin deities Kahaukani ("The Hau Tree Wind"), a wind of Manoa, and Kauakuahine ("The Sister Rain"). The marriage of brother and sister among the ali'i served to concentrate the mana of their blood in their offspring. Kahalaopuna gave off a rosy light that was a sign of her divine ancestry and mana: "Her checks were so red and her face so bright that a glow emanated from them and shone through the thatch of her house when she was inside; a rosy light seemed to envelop the house, and bright rays constantly played over the house. When she went to bathe in the spring below her house, the rays of light surrounded her like a halo. The natives maintain that this bright light is still occasionally seen at Kahaiamano indicating that the spirit of Kahalaopuna is revisiting her old home."

Kahaiamano, a land section in upper Manoa, adjoining Lua'alaea ("Pit of Red Earth"), may be translated "The Shark Sacrifice": "mano" means "shark"; hai" is possibly "ha'i," a variant of "hae," which means "to tear in pieces," "to break a covenant" (Pukui-Elbert, Andrews); the place name foreshadows the tragic ending of the story.

In her youth, Kahalaopuna was betrothed to Kauhi, a young man of the mano clan from Kailua, on the other side of the Ko'olau Mountains. She became dependent on Kauhi for her poi and fish. Two men from Manoa disfigured by makahelei ("drawn eyes") fell in love with her after hearing about her great beauty and claimed they had received love-gifts from her, even though they had never met her. Makahelei, "drawn eyes" was thought to be a punishment for breaking the kapu of one's 'aumakua: such a wrongdoer "would become humpbacked, or his eyelids would be drawn down, or he would fall lame, or suffer with chronic stomach ache or consumption­or he might be killed outright." (Kamakau, People 90). When Kauhi heard the rumor of Kahalaopuna's infidelity, he headed up to Manoa from Waikiki, filled with jealous rage and intending to kill his bride-to-be.

In the first half of the story, Kauhi takes Kahalaopuna on a westward journey toward Wai'anae, away from the protection of her grandparents and 'aumakua in Manoa and toward the realm of the dead. (The west and the setting sun are associated in Hawaiian and Polynesian traditions with the land of the dead. One of the places on O'ahu where the spirits of the dead were said to leap into the afterworld is near the westernmost tip of the island­Ka'ena Point.) On this journey west, Kauhi killed Kahalaopuna five times: at 'Aihualama in Manoa; at the summit of the ridge between Manoa and Nu'uanu; at Waolani ("Heavenly Mountain Forest"), a valley on the west side of Nu'uanu; at Kilohana ("Lookout Point"), a peak near the head of Kalihi Valley; and at Pohakea ("White Stone"), the southern pass through the Wai'anae Mountains to Lualualei, on the far west side of O'ahu. After each of her first four deaths, her 'aumakua, the pueo, restored her to life by rubbing its face against her head-bruise to heal it and breathing into her nostrils. After each resurrection, Kahalaopuna returned to Kauhi to plead her case: "'If you think I have been false to you, why not seek proof before believing it?'" Kauhi was deaf to her appeals. Finally, at Pohakea, Kauhi buried her under the roots of a koa tree, so that her body could not be dug up by the pueo and resurrected a fifth time. Far from the valley of her grandparents and parents, Kahalaopuna's corpse was left to decay.

The pueo clan once ruled the district of Kona, O'ahu. In "Kalelealuaka and Ke'inoho'omanawanui" (Fornander, Vol. IV, 464-471), Pueonui ("Great Owl") of Kona, and Kakuhihewa, who ruled 'Ewa and adjoining districts, fought for control of O'ahu; the two eponymous heroes, after their desires for choice food and the chief's daughters were granted, helped Kakuhihewa to defeat Pueonui.

"Kapo'i" (Thrum Hawaiian Folktales 200-202; Kamakau Tales 23) records another battle in which the pueo clan defeats Kakuhihewa. The story begins by describing the origin of the clan: a man named Kapo'i lived in Kahehuna, Honolulu (upper Fort Street, near Puowaina). He found some owl eggs one day at Kewalo ("The Calling," a land section on the east side of Puowaina) and took them home to cook. A pueo came to beg for the life of her offspring. Kapo'i relented and the pueo became his god. The pueo told Kapo'i to build a heiau in Manoa, and Kapo'i did so. Kakuhihewa, who was then living in Waikiki, heard about the heiau and was offended, having declared earlier that no one could build a heiau until his own had been dedicated to the gods. Kapo'i was captured and taken to the heiau of Kupalaha in Waikiki, where he was sentenced to death as a rebel. A luakini heiau such as Kupalaha required the sacrifice of a rebel for its completion (Kamakau Works 144). Kapo'i's god, however, summoned all the pueo of the Hawaiian Islands to rescue Kapo'i: all the pueo from Lana'i, Maui, Moloka'i, and Hawai'i gathered in Waimanalo, at Kalapueo (the area around the Oceanic Institute at Makapu'u; the name is translated "Owl proclamation" in Pukui's Place Names; and "Rallying of the Owls" in Sterling and Summers); all the pueo from the Ko'olau districts of O'ahu congregated at Kanoniakapueo ("The Noni Tree of the Owl"; Pukui et al Place Names;) in Nu'uanu (or Kanoneakapueo, "The Dismal Cry of the Owl," around 3402 Nu'uanu Avenue; Sterling and Summers); and all the pueo from Kaua'i and Ni'ihau arrived at Pueohulunui ("Well-Feathered Owl"; Pukui et al Place Names;), near Moanalua Valley (a map in Ii, 96, places Pueohulunui on Waipi'o Peninsula in 'Ewa).

The distribution of these place names from one end of the Kona district of O'ahu to the other, from Makapu'u to Moanalua, suggests the great numbers of the pueo warriors. On the day of Kane (the 27th lunar day), the pueo converged above Honolulu, darkening the sky, and a battle was fought at a place in Waikiki that came to be called Kukae-unahi-o-pueo ("Scaly excrement of owls") because the pueo not only scratch at the eyes and noses of Kakuhihewa's warriors, but also defecated on them. Kakuhihewa lost the battle. His warriors humbled, he acknowledged the strength of the pueo clan and allowed Kapo'i to worship his god, called Ku-kauakahi, at its heiau in Manoa (Kamakau Tales 23).

In Manoa Valley is a bluff called Pu'u Pueo, "Owl Hill," just past the fork of Manoa Road and East Manoa Road heading into the valley. Was this the site of Kapo'i's heiau? At Pu'u Pueo, "an avenging spirit in the form of a pueo sought to execute judgment upon a culprit for some alleged transgression, but upon the pleading of the accused for a hearing before executing punishment, it thereafter became the established custom that none should be condemned till tried and proven guilty" (Sterling and Summers 285). Just as the pueo pleaded for the lives of her offspring and Kapo'i relented, so too did the accused at Pu'u Pueo plead for a hearing and was granted one by the pueo. The pueo relented perhaps in remembrance of Kapo'i, who had listened to her pleas. This tradition of pleading for compassion and justice is connected to the story of Kahalaopuna as well: unjustly accused by Kauhi of being unfaithful, Kahalaopuna pleaded for a hearing from her accuser each time she was restored to life. Kauhi remained unrelenting in his cruelty, but in the end, a trial was held to determine the truth, and justice, if not compassion, prevailed.

A relative of Kahalaopuna, 'Elepaio (a forest bird), witnessed Kauhi's fifth murder of the princess of Manoa at Pohakea and reported it to her parents. Meanwhile, Kahalaopuna's spirit called to a group of passers-by for help; a young man, unnamed, but perhaps belonging to the mo'o clan, carried her body back to his home in Mo'ili'ili, where his older brother and their two spirit sisters restored Kahalaopuna to life at Mau'oki, an underground pool in Mo'ili'ili. The healing process is called "kakelekele" (cf., kakele, "to rub with oil or ointment"). The waters which restored Kahalaopuna to life were henceforth known as "The Waters of Kahalaopuna." ("Mau'oki" is also the name of a luakini heiau that was located in Mo'ili'ili at the foot of the slope separating the valleys of Manoa and Palolo; Sterling and Summers 279.)

The young man who saved Kahalaopuna then worked to bring her justice. He provoked Kauhi into a dispute by proclaiming that Kahalaopuna was still alive: "Kauhi then dared his rival to produce Kahalaopuna; and if the woman was not the genuine one, then his rival should be killed; on the other hand, if the woman proved to be Kahalaopuna, then Kauhi should be declared the liar and pay for his insults with his life." A trial took place at Waikiki, presided over by the mo'i of O'ahu, and attended by Kahalaopuna's grandfather 'Aka'aka, who, upon Kahalaopuna's reappearance, confirmed that she was indeed his granddaughter. Kahalaopuna then told her story, and established the truth. As punishment for their wrongs against her, Kauhi, along with those of his followers who chose to die with their chief, and Kumauna and Keawaa, the two disfigured men who provoked Kauhi's jealousy, were baked in an imu at Ulukou ("Grove of Kou Trees") on the side of the Stream of 'Apuakehau (an area in Waikiki, close to where Manoa stream used to empty into the sea; lit., "basket of dew," the name of a rain).

Kumauna and Keawaa were transformed, through the power of their family god, into two mountain peaks in Manoa Valley. In another version of the Kahalaopuna story, Nakuina writes: "In the eastern corner of Manoa Valley can be seen the peak of Kumauna, with a hump on the back of the ridge leading up to the peak, and alongside of it the ravine of Keawawa-Kiihelei. ["Awawa" is a gulch or ravine; "Ki'ihelei" means "to straddle."] These places belonged to and are called after the two wicked men who were the cause of the sad death of Kahalaopuna" (Hawaii: Its People, Their Legends 45).

3. Mano / Shark

Mano: shark

Nakuina's "Kahalaopuna," like "Punahou," does not have a happy ending. Kauhi's 'aumakua, the mano, sent a great wave over the site of the imu where Kauhi's body was burned and swept the bones of Kauhi and his followers into the sea, where they were all transformed into mano.

Like the mo'o and pueo, the mano was a helper to his descendants, often families of fishermen. The mano assisted in driving fish into nets or rescuing a fisherman whose canoe was capsized. Mano could also guide lost canoes back to land. A man named Kaiwi provided the following information about the shark 'auamkua of a fishing family named Puhi on the Big Island:

When the Puhi go fishing, the shark appears. The 'aumakua obeys the voice of man; name the kind of fish you want and it will bring it. The men give it some of the first catch, then it disappears, and they always come back with full nets. Only when the shark appears do they have luck (hence they recognize the god's intervention). Sometimes the 'aumakua tells them beforehand in a dream that it has gathered the fish together. Besides this, the Puhi family can never be drowned. If there is a storm and the boat capsizes, the shark appears and the man rides in on its back. (Beckwith "Hawaiian Shark 'Aumakua" 504)

To rivals or enemies of the shark clan, however, the mano could be dangerous. A family of shark worshipers could send its 'aumakua as an avenger. After a recent fatal shark attack on Maui, I heard a rumor that the woman who had been killed had tried to prevent a family of Hawaiian fishermen from crossing her property to get to their ancestral fishing ground. In the story "Napuaopa'ula" (Pukui, Folktales of Hawai'i 42-3), a shark family, jealous of their neighbor's beautiful daughter (their own daughter was ugly) sent its 'aumakua to devour her. In this story, as in "Kahalaopuna," the mano is associated with jealousy. In a second version of "Kahalaopuna" (Fornander, Vol. V, 189-194), the mano and jealousy are figuratively linked in Kahalaopuna's chant to Kauhi:

Me he mano la no ka lili ia'u
(Your jealousy is like a shark,)

Ka ho'i koke mai no nanahu ia'u
(Returning swiftly to bite me)

After Kauhi's death, the pueo clan had to be on guard against the mano clan and its ocean god. 'Aka'aka warned his granddaughter never to go into the sea again. But one day, when the waves were breaking at Waikiki, Kahalaopuna ignored her grandfather's warning and entered the sea to surf. In his shark form, Kauhi seized her and dragged her out to Wai'anae, away from her family's protection once again, where he devoured her body whole, so she could not be restored to life again. Her disobedience to her kupuna led to her final demise.

The shorter version of "Kahalaopuna" in Fornander ends happily, with Kahalaopuna's restoration to life. When Kauhi came to see her again, Kahalaopuna rejected him, and thus the story ended. The fatalistic ending of Nakuina's version, with the destruction of Kahalaopuna by Kauhi, suggests a parallel to the loss of Hawaiian traditions and the overthrow of Hawaiian sovereignty by American colonizers at the end of the 19th century. In "Ka'opulupulu and a Prophecy," Nakuina reports the prophecy of Ka'opulupulu, a high priest who lived in Waimea Valley on O'ahu's North Shore (Hawaii Its Legends, Their Legends 52-54). Ka'opulupulu heard of a plot by Kahahana, the king of O'ahu, to kill him, because he had protested Kahahana's ill treatment of the people. Ka'opulupulu fled to Wai'anae with his family. They were chased down and he and his eldest son were wounded by Kahahana's warriors. As Ka'opulupulu laid dying, he called out to his son, "E nui ke aho a moe i ke kai, no ke kai ka ho'i ua 'aina"­"Take a deep breath and lay yourself down, for then the land will belong to the sea" (Pukui 'Olelo No. 363). His son then fled into the sea and died of his wounds. (Other versions say that the son was drowned at Wai'anae, and the father was killed at Pu'uloa or at Waikiki, where their bodies were eventually hung from coconut trees at a place of sacrifice called Helumoa, named for "the scratching of the chickens"­a place, where the maggots that fell from the bodies of the two men were eaten by chickens; or they were hung at Kukaeunahi, a heiau, where for several weeks, their bodies did not decompose (Thrum, Hawaiian Folktales, 203-214; Pukui,The Legend of Kawelo).

Whatever the exact circumstances of the deaths of the prophet and his son, Nakuina notes: "Ka'opulupulu's call and advice to his son have been regarded and accepted by all Hawaiians in the nature of a prophecy, presaging the utter extinction of O'ahu's autonomy." First the island was conquered by Kahekili, king of Maui; then by Kamehameha, king of Hawai'i Island; then by haole settlers, who overthrew the monarchy in 1893 and set up a Provisional Government; finally by the United States, which annexed the islands in 1898. All of O'ahu's conquerors came by sea. Nakuina concludes: "And was this all? Or were there more scenes, as yet unenacted, when mayhap the exigencies of circumstances may cause the United States to give or abandon us to the Northern Bear, or to some great Asiatic power that may yet arise?"

This grim fatalism underlies Nakuina's three tales: "Ka'opulupulu and a Prophecy," "Punahou," and "Kahalaopuna." This last story can be read as a political-historical allegory. Kahalaopuna might represent the beauty of Hawaiian culture; the jealous Kauhi, who came from Kailua, outside her Kahalaopuna's home district of Manoa and outside of her clan (her parents were siblings), can be identified with the foreigners who came in ships to take over the islands. Kahalaopuna became dependent on (and indebted to) Kauhi for food, just as Hawai'i became dependent on the American economy. Kauhi, for no just reason, jealous of the beauty of Kahalaopuna, continually beat her to death, just as the American missionaries, businessmen, and educators kept up their abusive attacks on Hawaiian culture and language after the overthrow of the monarchy and annexation. Kahalaopuna might have been saved by remaining obedient to her kupuna, just as Hawaiian culture and language might have been more strongly preserved and perpetuated by holding onto the ancestral traditions. Instead, Kahalaopuna entered the ocean against the warning of her kupuna, and was devoured by Kauhi's shark form; and Hawaiian culture was overwhelmed by Christianity and capitalism

Despite her political fatalism, Nakuina suggests at the end of her tale that Kahalaopuna and her family remain alive in their various natural-spiritual forms in Manoa today:

Kahaukani, the father, is known as the Manoa wind, but his usual and visible form is the grove of hau trees, below Kahaiamano. Kauakuahine, the mother, assumed her rain form, and is very often to be met with about the former home of her beloved child.

The grandparents also gave up their human forms and returned to Manoa, the one to his mountain form, and the other into the lehua bushes still to be found on the very brow of the hill from which they keep watch over the old home of their petted and adored grandchild.

Kahalaopuna's story continues to speak to us through the landscape which gave it birth: a warning about the dangers of jealousy, of dependency on outsiders, and of disobedience to one's kupuna; and a reminder of the tradition of truth and justice established by the pueo clan of Manoa.

The Wizard Stones of Kapaemahu at Waikiki

James H. Boyd
THESE mid-Pacific isles have many legends attached to various localities; mountains, rivers, lakes and other places have their goblin and other stories of by-gone ages.

In Hawai'i are many places which give ocular proof of the supernatural tales of mythical beings who are credited with a personality equal in lore to the celebrities of ancient Greek mythology, and the doings of the dreaded gods of Hawaii have been recounted among the Hawaiian people for successive generations. The doings of four sorcerers, who have prestige among the mele singers and recounters of ancient Hawaiian lore, were revived a few years ago by the unearthing of long concealed monuments on the Waikiki beach premises of Princess Ka'iulani. These discovered relics of ancient days have brought out the tradition of their existence, to the following effect:

From the land of Moa'ulanuiakea (Tahiti), there came to Hawaii long before the reign of Kakuhihewa, four soothsayers from the court of the Tahitian king. Their names were: Kapaemahu, Kahaloa, Kapuni and Kinohi. They were received as became their station, and their tall stature, courteous ways and kindly manners made them soon loved by the Hawaiian people. The attractiveness of their fine physique and gentle demeanor was overshadowed by their low, soft speech which endeared them to all with whom they came in contact. They were unsexed by nature, and their habits coincided with their feminine appearance, although manly in stature and general bearing. After a long tour of the islands this quartette of favorites of the gods settled at Ulukou, Waikiki, near the site of the present Moana Hotel.

The wizards or soothsayers proved to be adepts in the science of healing, and many wonderful cures by the laying on of sands are reported to have been effected by them, so that their fame spread all over this island of O'ahu, as the ancients say, "from headland to headland," And their wisdom and skill was shown by many acts which gave them prestige among the people.

In course of time, knowing that their days among their Hawaiian friends were drawing to a close, they caused their desire for recognition for past services to be remembered in some tangible form, or manner, so that those who might come after, could see the appreciation of those who had been succored and relieved of pain and suffering by their ministrations during their sojourn among them. As an enduring reminder, the wizards agreed among themselves that the people should be asked to erect four monumental tablets, two to be placed on the ground of the habitation, and two at their usual bathing place in the sea. They gave their decision to the people as a voice from the gods, and instructed that the stones be selected from among those in the "bell rock" vicinity of Kaimuki.

The night of Kane was the time indicated for the commencement of the work of transportation, and thousands responded to aid in the labor. Four large selected boulders, weighing several tons each, were taken to the beach lot at Ulukou, Waikiki, two of which were placed in position where their house stood, and the other two were placed in their bathing place in the sea. Kapaemahu, chief of the wizards, had his stone so named, and transferred his witchcraft powers thereto with incantations and ceremonies, including a sacrificial offering, said to have been that of a lovely, virtuous young chiefess, and her body placed beneath the stone. Idols indicating the unsexed nature of the wizards were also placed under each stone and tradition tells that the incantations, prayers and fastings lasted one full moon. Tradition further states, as is related in the old-time meles of that period, that, after the ceremonies, by each of the wizards transferred all his powers to his stone, they vanished, and were seen no more. But the rocks having lately been discovered they have been exhumed from their bed of sand and placed in position in the locality found, as tangible evidence of a Hawaiian tale.

This story is from Thrum's More Hawaiian Folk Tales (261-264).


In the land of Pukoula which adjoins Waiahao (now called Kawaiahao) in the district of Kona, O'ahu, was the home of Pumai'a. He and his wife raised hogs. At one time they had as many as ten hog pens. Among his herd of hogs, Pumai'a had a favorite, one that measured over six feet long. He vowed he would never part from this hog. Only after his death would the hog be killed.

Pua'a: pig petroglyph

Kuali'i, the king of O'ahu at this time, was building a heiau (temple) called Kapua, situated to the west of Le'ahi (Diamond Head) overlooking Mamala Bay. At the completion of the heiau, Kuali'i ordered that a hog be brought from Pumai'a's pens. When the messengers arrived, Pumai'a asked them: "What brings you here?"

"We've come for a hog for the king's temple. Give us one."

"Yes, take one," said Pumai'a. "There's the pig pen."

The king kept ordering hogs until all ten pens were empty, and only Pumai'a's favorite hog remained. Then Kuali'i sent his men after one more hog. Pumai'a asked: "What brings you here?"

"Kuali'i has sent for another hog."

"He can't have this last one. It's my favorite. He's just looking for trouble. He's being greedy."

The men then grabbed the hog and struggled with Pumai'a for it, many against one. Sometimes Pumai'a had the pig, then the king's men had it. This back-and-forth struggle continued until at last blows were struck. Pumai'a let fly with his fists to the right and left, killing all the men except one. This one went back to Kuali'i and reported the slaughter.

Kuali'i then ordered his soldiers and officers to arm themselves with spears and other weapons, to don their war helmets and feather capes, and when they were ready, to go and make war on Pumai'a.

After the first fight Pumai'a left Pukoula and went to Kewalo. There he met the king's soldiers again and another battle was fought. Pumai'a again slew all of Kuali'i's warriors and officers except for one. The survivor carried the news of defeat to Kuali'i.

When Kuali'i heard that his warriors and officers had all been killed, he called the rest of his chiefs and warriors together, along with his god, Kanemuka (a). Pumai'a in the meantime had moved on to Pawa'a. There he encountered Kuali'i and his men, and a third battle was fought in which Pumai'a slew all the chiefs and warriors, with the exception of Kuali'i and his god.

When Kuali'i saw that his men and chiefs were all slain, he prayed to his god to capture Pumai'a, and through its power, Pumai'a was caught and tied up. Kuali'i was so angry at Pumai'a, the pig farmer was immediately killed and dragged to Kapua, where his dead body was thrown into a pit with the men he had killed. During the ill treatment of his body, Pumaia's jaws were crushed and broken.

Meanwhile Pumaia's wife and young daughter were at home waiting for his return. When Pumai'a did not return by midnight, the mother said to the daughter: "Perhaps your father is dead. He usually returns home before dark."

While the two were talking they heard a shaking noise outside the house and an indistinct call to open the door. When the mother opened the door, the spirit ('uhane) of Pumai'a was there.

Since the jaw bones of Pumai'a had been crushed, the spirit's words were indistinct, so it had to resort to whispers and gestures of the hands, like a deaf and dumb person, in order to be understood. Pumai'a said to his wife: "I struck to the right and left and killed them all."

The wife asked: "You killed them all?"

"Yes, yes," he replied, at the same time bringing his hands together to indicate that no one had survived.

Pumai'a then said to his wife: "Let's go and get my body." The wife agreed and took a piece of kapa cloth in which to wrap the body. The cavorting spirit then went ahead, the wife following, until they reached the heiau of Kuali'i at Kapua and the pit where the body had been thrown.

The spirit of Pumai'a then flew and landed right in the center of the pit and danced above it; the night guards were fast asleep, as it was well on towards midnight, the Milky Way clearly visible. The wife entered the pit and moved among the dead bodies. The spirit whispered and motioned with his hands for the wife to remove the dead bodies. Then he pointed down toward the bottom of the pit. The wife followed the instructions until she found the body of Pumai'a, all bruised and torn, beneath the other corpses. She collected the pieces of his body and bundled them in the kapa cloth, put the bundle on her back, and returned home.

At home, Pumaia's spirit pointed at the floor of the house and told his wife to remove the mats, dig a hole, and conceal the body before the arrival of those who would search for the body the next day. The wife did as she was told.

The next day a search party arrived looking for the body of Pumai'a. The searchers asked Pumaia's wife: "Didn't you go and remove the body of your husband last night?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. Is Pumai'a then dead? This is the first I've heard of his death." The search party believed her and returned to the king.

After the men left, the wife said to the daughter: "I'm worried about how we are going to survive now that your father is dead."

Pumaia's spirit heard them and asked: "What are you two whispering about?"

The wife replied: "We're afraid. Who will provide for us, now that you bones are bloodless?"

That night, Pumaia's spirit returned and said: "Let's go away from here. Dig up my remains and take them with you."

After digging up the remains, the mother and daughter left Pukoula and walked toward the Ko'olau mountains along the road leading to the junction of Pauoa and past the pool at 'Alekoki. Then they continued past Ma'ema'e, and by dawn of the next day they reached Nu'uanu.

The spirit of Pumai'a flew to a cave at the top of one of the peaks of the Nu'uanu Pali and hovered there. (This peak is on the left, as you come down toward Ho'owahapohaku and look towards the eastern peaks of the pali.) The wife, carrying his bones, and the daughter then climbed up the cliff until they arrived at the cave. There they made their dwelling.

At the end of the fourth day, the last finger of poi for the daughter was gone. The mother said: "I'm worried about your fate. Here we are caring for your father's bloodless bones, while we have no food and meat for ourselves."

When they woke up the next morning they saw pigs, chickens, fish from the ponds, vegetables, and other things piled up in the cave. The spirit of Pumai'a had traveled over the whole district of Waikiki gathering things for his family.

For several nights, the spirit of Pumai'a kept up these raids; he even stole from Kuali'i's own lands. Besides food, he took canoes, mats, war helmets, feather capes, kapa cloth, calabashes, water gourds, and so on.

At night, Pumaia's spirit would enter houses, carry out the sleepers and then empty the houses of valuables. Upon waking up in the morning, the people would find themselves out of doors and their houses robbed; even the crops growing in the fields were gone. Thus, Pumaia's wife and daughter had all they wanted and far more than they needed. One day the wife sighed and said: "Yes, we have all we need, except for one thing­we have no servant to do our work."

When Pumaia's spirit heard this, he went off and brought back a servant for his wife and daughter.

Meanwhile, Kuali'i was asked who this mysterious thief could be. A priest who was living with him told Kuali'i: "This thief is your enemy Pumai'a; his body is dead, but his spirit is at large and is much stronger than when he was alive. You may soon be killed; only if you act rightly will you be saved."

"What must I do?" asked Kuali'i.

The priest replied: "You must build three houses; one house for Pumaia's wife and daughter; one house for their property and servant; and one house for the bones of Pumai'a. After that, go and get your enemy's bones and take good care of them; then he may forgive you, and you might live."

Kuali'i consented to do all the things the priest advised.

Pumai'a heard the priest's advice and Kuali'i's consent, and was amused. He advised his wife and daughter to return to the lowlands near shore. The wife obeyed and made ready for their return. While on their way back to their former home, they met Kuali'i's men who had been sent to bring them to the king. Upon their arrival at the king's house, they found everything prepared for their reception and thereafter, they lived, well-provided for, with the king.

"Pumai'a" was published in Hawaiian and English, in Fornander, Vol. IV (470-477). Compare the war over pigs at Kula, Maui described in Pukui, 'Olelo No'eau, No. 88: "'Ai pua'a a Kukeawe. The pork-eating of Kukeawe. Said of a person who is not satisfied with the number of his own pigs and so robs his neighbors of theirs. Kukeawe was a friend of Kahekili who was allowed to help himself to any of Kahekili's pigs in Kula, Maui. But Kukeawe also took the pigs belonging to the people of Kula, Honua'ula, and Kahikinui and plundered their possessions. These people rose in rebellion, led by 'Opu, and surprised the followers of Kukeawe while they were ascending Haleakala on the way to Kula. Kukeawe's party retreated but found their way blocked by other parties led by Kawhena, Kaho'oluhina, and Kuheana. Kukeawe was killed and his body set up a Palauea for all to see."

(a) Kane-muka: possibly "male god, smacking lips", a war god, requiring human sacrific. "Muka" refers to the smacking of lips in appreciation while eating, such as when the cannibals of O'ahu dine on their favorite meal. (See the "Hanaaumoe" tab above.)


Ku'ula was the father, Hina the mother, 'Ai'ai the son; Niolapa in Nu'uanu the land where they lived. Ku'ula and Hina were expert fishers and had a pa named Kahuoi, which was guarded by the bird Ka-manu-wai ("The water bird") at Kaumakapili. When Ku'ula went fishing for aku outside of Mamala Bay, the aku came up and filled his canoe. This fish was food for the bird.


One day when Ku'ula was fishing for aku outside of Mamala, Kipapalaulu, the ali'i of Honolulu, was also fishing and saw the aku coming up and filling Ku'ula's canoe, so the ali'i stole this pa Kahuoi from Ku'ula; the bird Kamanuwai went hungry. There at Kaumakapili, the bird closed its eyes ("ka pili o na maka") from hunger, and from then on, the place was known as Kau-maka-pili ("Perched with eyes closed").

Hina became pregnant and gave birth to a son named 'Ai'ai, whom the parents threw into the stream below Kaumakapili. The stream carried the baby toward the sea to where the bridge at Ho'oliliamanu is today; there above the rock known as Nahakaipuami, 'Ai'ai floated.

At Kapu'ukolo, the ali'i Kipapalaulu lived with his daughter Kauaelemimo. At noon one day, when Kauaelemimo went to bathe with her women, the abandoned child was found, and Kauaelemimo took the child for herself and provided for it. 'Ai'ai grew up to be a very good-looking child, so Kauaelemimo took him for her husband and slept with him.

When she was pregnant, she craved fish, so 'Ai'ai went fishing with a pole at that place where the custom house is today and caught fish to feed his wife. Ten days later, Kauaelemimo craved aku (skipjack tuna), so she asked 'Ai'ai to go fishing for some.

'Ai'ai told her, "Go get a pa from your father."

The woman agreed and went before her father, who asked, "What brings you here?"

"I've come to get a pa for my husband."

"Yes, a pa­here's a pa." The woman returned to 'Ai'ai and gave him the pa; 'Ai'ai told her, "I can't catch anything with this pa; I could fish till my body ached and still no fish would bite."

The woman asked, "So then, where is the pa you want?"

'Ai'ai replied, "Go tell your father that inside the fishing-gear gourd there is a pa that will always attract fish." 'Ai'ai wanted to get back his father's pa, Kahuoi, the one stolen by Kipapalaulu.

When the daughter appeared before Kipapalaulu and asked him again to give her a pa, Kipapalaulu denied he had any more: "There are no more pa; all the pa are gone."

Kauaelemimo replied, "Really? 'Ai'ai said there is a pa inside the fishing-gear gourd."

"Yes, a real pa--I just remembered it." He went and got the gourd and looked into it--the pa!

The wife brought the pa to 'Ai'ai, who seized it and said, "Now that you've returned to me, my bones will live!"

'Ai'ai said to his wife, "Go back and get a canoe for me--not five anana (fathoms) long, not eight anana long, but ten anana long--that's the canoe I spoke to your father about."

The wife went to her father and asked for the canoe ten anana long, and the canoe was brought out. The father asked, "Who will paddle the canoe?"

"My husband."

When 'Ai'ai heard his wife's response, he went and got the canoe, and with the bird Kamanuwai and the pa Kahuoi, he paddled outside of Mamala Bay and displayed the pa. The aku came up and filled the canoe. The bird ate and was revived. 'Ai'ai returned with the canoe filled with aku and gave the catch to his wife; but the pa Kahuoi was taken by the bird Kamanuwai, who now guards it. Such is the legend of 'Ai'ai.



The story of 'Ai'ai was published in Fornander, Vol. 6 (554-59) Kamakau tells the story of a pa which belonged to a high chief named Kahuoi: "On the north side of the church of Kau-maka-pili in Honolulu, there once was a kuahu altar for the fishing lure, the pa hi aku, that belonged to Kahuoi. This was a very famous lure; when it was shown, the aku would fill the canoe. At that time the harbor of Kou was not entered by ships; the aku and 'ahi fish came in there." When Kahuoi goes fishing for uhu at Hana, Maui, the pa is stolen from him by Pu'olo-kalina (Tales 8). See note g below for a description of fishing for aku using a pa hi aku, or aku lure. See "Nihooleki" for a story with a similar incident of a fisherman asking for his pa and a canoe so he can fish.

A longer version of the story of the fishing god Ku'ula and his son 'Ai'ai, appears in Hawaiian Fishing Traditions, a collection of stories by Moke Manu and others (1-44), and in Thrum's Hawaiian Folk Tales (219-249). The story begins in Hana, Maui. The fishing god Ku'ula and his wife Hina present their son 'Ai'ai with some sacred fishing implements, then allow their bodies to be burned by a jealous rival and escape in their spirit forms to dwell in the sea, taking all the fish with them. 'Ai'ai takes revenge on his father's killers and brings the fish back to Hana. He teaches the people how to catch fish and how to worship his father and mother at fishing shrines; he establishes fishing shrines and fishing grounds throughout the islands. The following excerpt describes his work on O'ahu :

'Ai'ai then went to O'ahu, first landing at Makapu'u (beach at the east tip of O'ahu), in Ko'olau, where he founded a pohaku-i'a (fish stone) for red fish and speckled fish and called it Malei. This was a female rock, and the fish of that place is the uhu (parrot fish).


The rock is referred to in a mele (song) of Hi'iaka:

I will not go to the stormy capes of Ko'olau,
The sea-cliffs of Moeaau.
The woman watching the uhu of Makapu'u
Dwells on the ledge of Kamakani
At Ko'olau. The living
Offer grass-twined sacrifices, O Malei!(a)

From the time 'Ai'ai founded that spawning-place until now, the fish from Makapu'u to Hanauma has been the uhu. There were also several gathering places for fish established outside of Kawaihoa (present day Portlock). 'Ai'ai next moved to Maunalua, then to Wai'alae and Kahala-ia (places along O'ahu's southern coast going west from Makapu'u). At Ka'alawai (the beach between Black Point and Leahi, or Diamond Head) he placed a white and brown rock. There in that place is an underwater pit filled with aholehole (a silvery perch-like fish), so the name of the area is Ka-lua-hole ("The pit of the ahole"). Right outside of Kahua-hui there is a ko'a where 'Ai'ai placed a large round sandstone that is surrounded by spawning-places for fish; Ponahakeone is its name. In ancient times the chiefs selected a very secret place wherein to hide the dead bodies of their greatly beloved, lest someone should steal the bones to make fishhooks, or arrows with which to shoot mice. For that reason the ancients referred to Ponahakeone as "He Lualoa no Na'li'i" ("A Deep Pit for the Chiefs")(b).

'Ai'ai came to Kalia (in Waikiki) and so on to Kaka'ako (area between Ala Moana and Honolulu harbor). Here he was befriended by a man named Apua, with whom he remained several days, observing and listening to the murmurs of an ali'i named Kou (the former name of Honolulu harbor and vicinity). This ali'i was a skillful hi-aku fisherman, his grounds being outside of Mamala (the sea outside the entrance of Honolulu Harbor) to Moanalua (land division west of Honolulu). No one was as skilled as he, and generous as well, giving aku to the people throughout the district.

As 'Ai'ai was dwelling with his friend Apua at Kaka'ako, he meandered off one day along the shore of Kuloloia (area from Kaka'ako to Fort Street), and so on to Pakaka (the canoe landing in Honolulu harbor) and Kapapoko (area near Honolulu harbor; Ka'ahumanu's Honolulu house took this name). But he did not return to the house of his friend, for he met a young woman gathering limu (seaweed) and fishing for crabs. This young woman, whose name was Pu'iwa (an area in Nu'uanu valley), lived in the uplands at Hanakaialama and was an unmarried virgin. She rather forwardly asked 'Ai'ai to be her husband; he agreed, and they went up together to her home and met her parents and relatives and soon the couple were married. After they lived together for some time, they had a son whom 'Ai'ai named Puniaiki. During those days, aku was sent up from Honolulu to Nu'uanu and distributed to different dwellings; but while others might each be given a whole fish, 'Ai'ai and his family got only a portion from some neighbor, so Pu'iwa was angry and told 'Ai'ai to go to the brook and get some 'o'opu and 'opae to eat. 'Ai'ai went and dug a ditch and constructed a dam to lead the water from the brook into some pits where he could catch 'o'opu and 'opae (c). He labored some days at this project, and the 'o'opu and 'opae he caught were hung up to dry.

On a following day, 'Ai'ai and his wife went with their child to the brook. She left her son on the bank of the stream while she engaged in catching 'opae and 'o'opu from the pits. Shortly, the child began to cry, so 'Ai'ai told his wife to leave her fishing to care for him, but she answered him saucily, so 'Ai'ai called upon his ancestors, and immediately, a dark, lowering cloud drew near and poured out a flood of water upon the stream, the dam was broken by the freshet and all the 'o'opu and 'opae, along with the child, were swept toward the sea. His wife, however, was not swept away by the flood. 'Ai'ai then rose up and departed, without any further thought of her.

He went down from Nu'uanu valley to Kaumakapili (the area above Beretania street from Nuuanu to the stream), and as he was standing there, he saw some women fishing for 'o'opu on the banks of the stream, Kikihale, the daughter of the ali'i Kou, among them.

The female guardian of the ali'i's daughter caught a very large 'o'opu, and 'Ai'ai recognized it as his own child, changed from a human being into a fish (d). The guardian showed it to Kikihale, who told her to put it into a large calabash with water and feed it with limu, so that it might become a pet fish. This was done and the 'o'opu was tended very carefully night and day.


One day while caring for the pet, the guardian was startled to see in the gourd a human child looking at her. The water in the calabash had disappeared. She was greatly surprised and, as she looked upon this miraculous child, she felt a dark foreboding and a trembling fear.

This woman went and told Kikihale of this child who was formerly an 'o'opu, and after hearing the story, Kikihale hurried to see it, with grave doubts, however, that the report was true; but when she looked into the calabash, she saw a child. She lifted the child in her hands and carefully examined its form and noted its handsome features. She desired to marry the child and said: "Now, my guardian, you and your husband take and rear this child till he is grown, then I will be his wife."

The guardian answered: "By the time this child grows up, you will be old; you will be in the evening of life while he will be in the early morn of his, so won't you two be unhappy?"

Kikihale replied: "You won't be to blame for that; these things are mine to consider because the desire is mine, not yours, my guardian."

The child became known among all the ali'i and attendants. He was nourished and brought up to adulthood, when Kikihale married him as she had said; and for a time they lived together happily. But Kikihale began to notice her husband was not disposed to do anything for their support, so she grew unhappy. Finally, she scolded him angrily: "My husband, can't you go out like the other men to assist our father and the attendants in fishing, instead of eating your fill, then rolling over facing the ridge-pole of the house and counting the 'aho (the rafters)? This may do while my father is alive, but if he should die, who would support us?" Thus she reproached him from day to day, and the words stung Puniaiki's heart.

So one day he said to his wife: "It's unpleasant to hear you constantly criticizing my behavior. Catching fish in the ocean is not as difficult as catching wild animals; the fish are obedient if called, and you may eat wastefully of my catch. I have command over fish, men, pigs, and dogs. If you are a favorite of your father, go and ask him for double canoes, fishing gear, and paddlers."

After her husband spoke, Kikihale hastened to Kou, her father, and told him what Puniaiki had said. The request was promptly granted. Kikihale returned to her husband and told him she had gotten all he had asked for. Going down to the canoe landing, Puniaiki found the men loading the canoes with nets, rods, lines, and pa hi aku (pearl-shell fishhooks for catching aku). He lit a fire and burned up all the pa. His wife got angry and cried loudly for her father's pa, then went and told her father of her husband's mischievous action; but her father didn't say a word about his son-in-law's action, though he had given his son-in-law five gourds filled with pa, a thousand in all, and all his pa were burned up save only two, which Kou had reserved (e).

That night Puniaiki slept apart from his wife, and he told the canoe paddlers to sleep in the canoe sheds, not at their homes that night; and they obeyed his words (f).

It was Kou's habit to arouse his men before daybreak to sail in the malau (light double canoes for fishing in quiet water) for aku fishing at the mouth of the harbor because the aku fed at daybreak, not after sunrise. The canoes would enter the schools of aku and hook the fish, and this ali'i had become famous as a most successful fisherman. But on this day the miraculous work of 'Ai'ai's child would be seen (g).

While Kou and his men always set out before dawn, here was Puniaiki still at home at sunrise. When he woke up, he looked mauka (mountainward) and saw a rainbow at Kaumakapili, with its reddish mist spread out and a human form standing within it. He knew the form was his father, 'Ai'ai, so he went there and 'Ai'ai showed him the place where the pa called Kahuoi was kept, and said to his son: "I will remain here till you return from fishing; be quick."

When Puniaiki reached the canoe landing, the canoes were quickly prepared for departure, and as they reached Kapapoko and Pakaka, at the sea of Kuloloia, they went on to Ulukua, now the lighthouse location of Honolulu harbor. Here Puniaiki asked the paddlers: "What is the name of that surf cresting before the prows of our canoes?"

"Puuiki," replied the men.

Then he said to them: "Point the prows of the canoes straight for the breakers and paddle strongly." The men doubted there were any aku at that place in the surf, but that was none of their business. As they neared the breakers of Puuiki, below the mouth of Mamala, Puniaiki said to his men: "Turn the canoes around and go shoreward." As they returned, he said quickly, "Paddle hard, for here we are on top of a school of aku." When the men looked into the water, they didn't see any fish swimming about, but on reaching Ulukua, Puniaiki took the pa Kahuoi out from its wrapping in the fishing gourd and held the hook in his hand. At this, an unprecedented number of aku fairly leaped into the canoes.

The canoes became so filled with fish, without any labor, that they sank in the water as they reached Kapu'u-kolo (shore between Nu'uanu Street and Honolulu Harbor), so the men jumped off the canoes and carried them to the beach. The canoe men were amazed by this work of Kou's son-in-law; and the people on shore shouted as the aku, which filled the harbor, swam toward the fishpond of Kuwili (in Iwilei) and on into the mouth of Leleo stream.

When the canoes touched shore, Puniaiki seized two fish in his hands and went to join his father, and 'Ai'ai directed him to take them up near where his mother lived. These aku were not gifts for her, but an offering to Ku'ula at a ko'a established just above Kahuailanawai (possibly the pool in upper Nu'uanu called Jackass Ginger). Puniaiki obeyed his father's instructions, and after he returned, 'Ai'ai sent him to give a supply of aku to his mother, Pu'iwa. She was greatly surprised that this handsome young man was her son, and this gift of aku was the first fruits of his labor.

The people marvelled at the quantity of fish throughout the harbor, so that even the stream at Kikihale (area of Honolulu bordered by Maunakea St., King St., and Nu'uanu stream; named after Kou's daughter) was also full of aku. Puniaiki commanded the people to take of them day and night, and the news of this visit of aku traveled all around O'ahu. This unequalled haul of aku was a great humiliation to Kou, diminishing his reputation as a fisherman; but he was neither envious toward his son-in-law, nor angry­he just sat silently. After giving the subject much thought, he finally decided to turn over the duties of fishing to Puniaiki, since the young man could carry them out so effortlessly.

Shortly afterwards, 'Ai'ai arranged with Puniaiki to establish the following ku'ula, ko'a, and pohaku i'a around the island of O'ahu: the Kou stone for Honolulu and Kaumakapili; a ku'ula at Kupahu; a fish stone at Hanapouli, 'Ewa; the ku'ula Ahuena for Waipi'o; two for Honouliuli; the ko'a Hani-o outside of Kalaeloa (Barber's Point); Kua and Maunalahilahi for Wai'anae; Kamalino for Waimea; and Kaihukuuna for La'ie-malo'o, Ko'olau. 'Ai'ai and his son also visited Kaua'i and Ni'ihau on this work, then turned around and went together to Hawai'i. The principal fishing grounds there are Poo-a, Kahaka, and Olelomoana at Kona; Kalae at Ka'u; Kupakea at Puna, and I at Hilo.

In former times at these fishing grounds around all the islands, great numbers and varieties of fish were seen, and occasionally deep sea kinds came close in shore; but in this new era there are not so many. Some people say it is on account of the changing times.



(a) According to a woman named Kanaloa, the rock Malei, along with other supernatural rocks, came with Pele, the volcano goddess, to Hawai'i from Kahiki (Green 64-5); hence Hi'iaka, Pele's sister, offers a chant to Malei when she visits O'ahu. Another translation of Hi'iaka's mele is found in N.B. Emerson's Pele and Hiiaka (88).

The Pukui-Elbert dictionary notes that Malei was the guardian of the uhu, or parrot fish, and offerings of lipoa seaweed were placed on her altar to assure successful fishing. McAllister records from N.B. Emerson the following traditions concerning Malei: "'Malei was a female kupua (supernatural being) who assumed various bodily forms. Offerings were necessary, not for her physical but for her spiritual sustenance. The burnt offering was not merely for its sweet smelling savour; it was an aliment necessary to the creature's continued existence. For the same or a parallel reason, songs of praise and adulation (kanaenae) were equally acceptable and equally efficacious. Cut off the flowers of speech as well as the offerings of its worshippers, and a kupua would soon dwindle into nothingness. A few years ago, as I am told, a Hawaiian woman on entering a certain cave in the region of Waimanalo, found herself confronted with a stone figure, from which glowed like burning coals a group of eight flaming eyes, being set in deep sockets in the stone. This object was soon recognized as the bodily dwelling of the kupua Malei. This little monolith at a later time came into the possession of Mr. John Cummins of Waimanalo.'"

McAllister adds, "Lahilahi Webb states that after his death, Mr. Cummins wanted Malei brought to Bernice P. Bishop Museum. This, however, was not done. Malei was taken back to her promontory at Makapu'u Point and cemented to the cliff. Now only the cement base remains, for Malei has disappeared and no one knows what has become of her. It is said that one of the lighthouse keepers was married to a Hawaiian woman who was constantly ailing. It was suggested that probably Malei was angry and that the husband removed the stone, throwing it into the sea, or burying it, or breaking it. Not long after he was supposed to have committed this offense he died. Others think that some soldiers removed the stone. Possibly with the removal of the worshipers, Malei 'dwindled to nothingness'" (58-9).

(b) In "The Legend of the Fishhook, called Na-iwi-o-Pae, now in the Government Museum" (Honolulu Almanac 1884, 39-40), E.M. Beckley tells the story of a fishhook made from the bone of an ali'i unfortunate enough to have his burial cave in Waipi'o valley (behind Hi'ilawe Falls) discovered: "One of the thigh bones of Pae, after his enraged spirit had been properly propitiated, was fashioned into a fishhook for deep-sea fishing. It was an extremely lucky hook and seemed to have a kind of power to attract fish. It has always been an object of strong desire to the chiefs of those and subsequent days. Battles have been fought, lost, and gained for the possession of this fishhook.

In those days, chiefs as well as commoners went fishing and took great pride in their skill as fishermen; in fact, fishing was looked on as one of the necessary manly accomplishments of warriors and statesmen. In using Na-iwi-o-Pae, fishermen call on the spirit of Pae, which had long before been entirely propitiated by the numberless offerings made to it, to assist in attracting the fish, and to keep it when hooked until landed­from which arose the famous saying of 'E Pae e! paa ia a paa ka kaua-i-a' ('O Pae! hold our fish securely').

The natives of these islands formerly held the belief that the bones of persons of quality had an especial attraction for fishes, and the higher the rank, the greater the attraction, so such bones were much sought after by high- and low-born alike." (Another version of the legend of Pae's bones appears in Kamakau's Ruling Chiefs 215-217).

(c) Beckley writes: "The natives had a very ingenious method of catching 'o'opu, small fresh-water fish found mostly in our mountain streams and having the flavor of trout. They built a platform of large logs placed side by side across our larger streams on the mountain slopes. The platform is placed at about or just above the high water mark towards the end of the dry season when the water is low. When the first heavy rains of the season fall, and the streams get full, the water becomes so muddy with the wash from the sloping ground adjoining the banks that the 'o'opu of the previous dry season are driven away from their usual haunts in water holes, under large rocks, logs, etc., and are carried down by the hurrying waters. The 'o'opu always try to keep in the surface water as it is comparatively clear and are swept in immense quantities onto the platform, and from there into a ditch leading out to a plain where they are gathered up in immense quantities" (8).

(d). Such metamorphoses, common in Hawaiian legends, are based on the belief that a human being could be transformed into the kinolau, or body form, of his or her family god ('aumakua), whether this form was a natural phenomenon (e.g., volcanic fire, thunder, lightning), a plant (e.g., wauke, bitter gourd, 'ohi'a lehua), or an animal (e.g., shark, lizard, owls, cutworm, or, in the case of 'Ai'ai's son, an 'o'opu, or goby fish). Such transformations could take place not only in life, but after death (see Kamakau's discussion of "Kaku'ai­Transfiguration" in Ka Po'e Kahiko, 63-91); or if an 'aumakua slept with a person, the child of the union could be born in an other-than-human form of the 'aumakua: "In this case [the child] either took itself away or was carried by a relative to the stream, the sea, or wherever it properly belonged. It in turn became one of the family 'aumakua" (Handy and Pukui 122).

Why would 'Ai'ai teach people how to catch 'o'opu, a kinolau, or body form, of his family? (See note c above.) In New Guinea, only family members could catch family members who were fish. In his Autobiography Kiki: Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire 1968), Albert Maori Kiki explains that only members of his father's clan could catch the larovea fish because only they knew the fish's secret name, passed down in the family from the ancestor, an ugly man who became the first larovea fish (26). Other fish belonged to other clans through such ancestral connections. For example, the Kauri clan was related to the Maria fish and knew its secret name, and only this clan was allowed to catch it (27). Of course, because the fish was an ancestor, the clan could not eat it and had to give it away when it was caught. (In the Hawaiian belief system, a dead family member could be preyed into an animal, which became the family's çaumakua; family members were prohibited from partaking of the animal's flesh.) Such prohibtions against eating the fish that one caught seem to have encourageed the distribution and exchange of food so vital to the integrity of Pacific island societies: "Only my father's people were allowed to catch [larovea fish] but could not eat them. All the fish they caught were distributed among the other people of the village. [My father's people] were not given anything directly in exchange. But there is so much exchange of food going on in Orokolo that the people do not bother even to have a market. When a man has a big catch of fish or a large yam harvest, he will automatically distribute some of the food to neighbours, friends, and relatives" (26).

Compare the Hawaiian story of the origin of the hina'i hinalea, a fishing basket for catching hinalea (a wrasse): Kalamainu'u, the sister, angry at her brother Hinale, learns from Hermit Crab how to make and bait the basket to capture him (See "Kalamainu'u," Manu 63-75).

(e) Te Rangi Hiroa describes a Samoan "Hook obtaining custom": "A master fisherman could call on another master fisherman to obtain aku hooks. The fisherman who had hooks could exempt any hooks in active use, i.e., tied to the rod, but spare hooks (kept in a basket) had to be displayed to the caller, who looked them over and chose one or two he thought might be effective" (Samoan Material Culture 520).

(f) Canoe fishing was generally restricted to men in traditional times. Aku fishermen slept in a sanctuary the night before going fishing in order to purify themselves. "It was strictly forbidden for any one to sneak away secretly to his own house to lie with his wife" (Malo 210). E.S. Craighill Handy gives the following explanation of this Polynesian taboo: "Consecration of canoes, nets, spears, lines, and hooks was an essential element in the success of fishing, for fish and fishermen, like all else were under the control of tapu and the mana atua [supernatural power]. This explains why women in former days never, and now rarely, went out in the fishing canoes. The women being common (noa) would have neutralized the tapu of the craft, gear, and fishermen" (Houses, Boats, and Fishing in the Society Islands 73-4). In Satawal, Mircronesia, pregnant and menstruating women were thought to be especially dangerous to the success of fishing and were forbidden from eating certain fish because "the sea god hates the smell of blood" (Tomoya 21). Polynesian fishermen believed human blood drove away fish.

(g) Schools of aku and 'ahi used to come near shore at the mouth of Mamala (Honolulu Harbor). Kamakau writes that there were two ways of catching aku: the first method involved taking out to sea a malau (bait tank) of live i'ao (a small silvery fish); after locating a school of aku with the help of noio (Hawaiian terns) which fed on the piha (herring), nehu pala (anchovy) and other small fish that aku ate, one man threw out the live fish to attract the aku to the canoe. As more and more live bait was tossed into the water, the hungry aku worked themselves into a feeding frenzy. Then the bamboo fishing poles were cast; the hooks, baited with the i'ao, were dropped onto the water and shaken: "When a fish took the bait and broke the water, the fisherman stood up straight and grasped the pole with both hands. The fish came completely out of the water and slapped against the right side of the fisherman's chest, sounding like the dashing of one wave against another as its head smacked against the fisherman's armpit. He ran his right hand along its head and with a quick push with his open palm he freed the hook and shoved the aku forward into the canoe. From the i'ao in his mouth, he rebaited his hook and cast again. If he used forty i'ao, he would catch forty aku" (Works 73).

The other, more ancient method of catching aku, was called pa hi aku and required "hard" bait--a pa, or lure, made from "the shell of an uhi, or thick mother-of-pearl bivalve (papaua manoanoa). A choice uhi is iridescent [like a rainbow] and, like a red cowry, leho 'ula, its choiceness can be seen. The pa­like the leho 'ula was a choice "chiefess" (ali'i wahine maika'i) and the lure, the pa hi aku, was desired by the aku as a beautiful chiefess is desired by men" (Works 74-5). Kamakau says that the two methods (live-bait and hard-bait) of catching aku were incompatible: "With the malau, all stayed in one place; in fishing with the pa lure, each canoe was paddled strongly in a different direction. Since this would interfere with the malau fishing, it was not wise for the two kinds to go on at the same time, as those trolling with a lure would drive away the fish of the malau fishermen" (75).

Beckley, on the other hand, says live-bait and hard-bait were used together in aku fishing, and a report by E.S. Craighill Handy of aahi [albacore] fishing seems to confirm this: "When the school of aahi is reached the ouma [a small silver fish] are taken out [from the basket bait container] and cast about on the water ahead of the canoe to attract the aahi as the canoe paddles on following the school. The pearl-shell hooks skimming the water evidently resemble­to the aahi at least­the small fry, for [the hooks] are snapped up by the big fish (Houses, Boats, and Fishing in the Society Islands, 104).

Beckley describes pa hi aku as follows: "Aku was formerly caught using muhe'e for bait, a kind of squid found floating on the surface of the sea in great quantities. A mother-of-pearl hook, or pa, is also used in place of bait. Small mullets and 'i'iao (a small fish that comes in immense schools) are now the favorite bait, and must always be used in connection with the pa. These bait fish are taken out alive in large gourds or tubs to the fishing ground (that is, any place where aku are seen, usually three to ten miles out on the open sea) and are thrown overboard, a handful at a time; they will immediately take shelter in the shadow of the canoe. The aku, chasing the bait fish, are attracted in great numbers around the canoes, which, for this kind of fishing are generally double ones. The pa are then thrown in the water without being baited and are mistaken for fish by the aku because the hooks shimmer and glisten like the 'i'iao. The pa, are of two kinds, the pa-hau (snowy pa) and the pa-anuenue (rainbow pa). The pa-hau is used from morning till the sun is high, as the sun's rays striking it obliquely makes it glisten with a white pearly light which looks like the shimmer from the scales of the smaller kinds of fish on which the aku lives, but at midday when the sun's rays fall perpendicularly on it, it appears transparent and is not taken by the aku. The pa-anuenue is then used. This hook has rainbow refractions, and the perpendicular rays of the sun make it shimmer and glisten like a living thing. Sometimes shells are found uniting the two characters, and such are always highly prized, as they can be used all day. The shell is barbed on the inner side with bone, and two tufts of hog's bristles are attached at the barbed end at right angles to it to keep the inner side up so the shell will lie flat on the surface of the sea" (9-10).

In his account of aku fishing in the Society Islands, Nordhoff lists a variety of shells used in the making of pa, or lures, with each of the islands having one or more varieties (15 on the largest island, Tahiti): "When one considers the fact that each variety is obtainable in three, four, five, or more shadings of colour, the complexity of this shell-lore becomes evident. Each shade has its technical name, like iri ahi'a (skin of the rose-apple)--the flush of pink pearl; or pua fau (Hibiscus flower)--tinged with the canary yellow of the wild hibiscus blossom.

"All of these kinds of shell, of course, are local varieties of the black-lipped pearl-'oyster'­differently slightly in appearance after the dark outer surface of the valve has been ground away to expose the full lustre of the nacre. This is a fitting place to state my firm belief that the bonito recognizes these differences in colour and what I can only call 'texture' of the mother-of-pearl­differences so small in many cases that they are scarcely perceptible to the human eye. At one time I was sceptical. But eight years of fishing with the natives have convinced me that the fish recognize instantly the correct shell for the conditions of weather, time of day, and the small fry on which they are feeding. Often, out of a dozen hooks available aboard a canoe, there will be only one at which the fish will strike freely" (241-243).

As the fisherman trolls for aku from his canoe, he tries different shells to find the right one: "As the hook skitters on the surface in the wake of the canoe, he moves the tip of his rod back and forth laterally causing the hook to follow a zigzag course. This increases its speed through the water and is believed to be tempting to the fish. A bonito makes the water boil a foot behind the shell, but refuses to take hold. Up comes the rod, the hook is made fast to the netting, and another one goes overboard. A moment, in the midst of the fish, suffices to try each shell, and no time must be lost. Sometimes when only an occassional bonito will strike, the expert hastily opens the fish he has caught, in search of roe. If roe is found, he compares its colour with his hooks until he finds one of precisely the same shade. Such a bit of shell, it is thought, will be seized without hesitation" (253).

Dog Gods of the Ko'olau Mountains

dog petroglyph

Pa'e, Poki, and Kaupe

(Sterling and Summers 312)

There is a sort of rounded hill on top of this place facing Ko'olau. A supernatural woman lived on Konahuanui [the highest peak in the Ko'olau Mountain Range, above Nu'uanu and Manoa.) She used to face the Ko'olau side and peer down on the people on the road to Honolulu.

... a brindled dog ('ilio mo'o) was one of the forms taken by the beautiful mo'o woman who dwelt on Konahuanui. The people of Ko'olau feared the dog when they returned home at night and when they had to they hurried home in the early evening. ("Na Anoai o Oahu Nei,"Hoku o Hawaii, Feb.11, 1930, "Oahu Place Names")

(For background on the mo'o, or water lizard god, see "Mo'o" in the "'Aumakua of Kona, O'ahu" tab above).

The Dog Pa'e
(Sterling and Summers 316; also in Pukui, Folktales of Hawai'i (44)

Pa'e was a large brindled dog that came from somewhere in the Ko'olau mountains on O'ahu to seek adventure in the villages that border the sea.

All went well until he was spied by the servants of a chief, who thought what a fine feast he would make for their chief if he were in an oven. So they caught him and roasted him and, placing him in a good-sized calabash, they tied a net about the calabash, thrust a pole through the handle of the net and started on their homeward journey over a narrow mountain trail with their load swinging from the pole between them.

As they reached the top of a cliff, they saw a pretty 'ehu woman sitting beside a pool of water. She called, "P'ae! Pa'e!"

"Here I am," answered the dog from the calabash.

"Where are you going?"

"I am going with these men to visit the land of the chief." The men were so frightened that they stood rooted to the spot.

"Come here to me, Pa'e. Let us go home to gether," said the woman.

Pa'e immediately jumped out of the calabash. He showed no trace of the roasting; he was once more the sleek, fat brindled dog from the mountains. He ran with delight to his mistress, who, throwing her arms about him, dived with him into the depths of the pool.

Then the frightened men, realizing that this dog was the pet of one of the mo'o of the Ko'olau mountains, ran away as quickly as they could, not daring to look behind them.

From that day, all brindled dogs were looked upon with superstitious awe in Hawai'i as under the protection of the spirits of the lizard goddess, and a brindled dog is called 'ilio mo'o or "lizard dog" to this day.

The Dog Poki
(Sterling and Summers 316)

Several men went to Ko'olau from Honolulu to get baked dog. On their return with their baked dog, when they arrived at the top of the Nu'uanu Pali, they heard a voice calling from the pali of Lanihuli. It called out: "Where are you going ?" Then the baked dog which they were carrying answered: "I am going to wherever they take me."

Upon hearing this voice of the baked dog, the men dropped everything and ran quickly to their village. Their family saw them approaching and asked: "What is this?" The men told them of the happening on their trip--of their returning with the baked dog and hearing the voice from the pali and the answering voice of the dog which they were carrying.

"Auwe! That was no other but the dog of the country, Poki", answered the family.

To this day is the saying: "Oh, I am going to wherever they take me."

(Davis, Mrs. Kekuahooulu, of Kailua, Oahu, dictated in Hawaiian, June 4, 1952, translated by Dorothy Barrere)

Poki in Kahauiki
(Sterling and Summer328)

Kahauiki ridge (between Kalihi and Moanalua) is, according to one of my informants, a favorite spot of Poki's. If a person is traveling mauka and Poki is observed going in the same direction, all is well. But if Poki is met, or seen lying across the road, one had better take the warning and return home or disaster will be met with. (Stokes, J.F.G. Miscellaneous Notes, Bishop Museum)

Poki in Moanalua Valley
(Sterling and Summers 329)

Poki is an [spirit] not peculiar to Moanalua but which has been seen in many places on the island. The most vivid description, however, was from a European living in Moanalua. It happened many years ago as he was returning from Honolulu on horseback. The moon had just risen, flooding the tops of ridges with light, which emphasized the blackness of valleys. He had just passed Fort Shafter and was beginning the descent into Moanalua when, with a sudden jerk, his horse stopped and stood trembling. In the distance arose the wailing of dogs. Glancing about, the rider saw coming off the ridge to his right a pale form. As he watched, it left the ridge and passed over the dark valley. It was a shapeless, white form, a mist convulsed with movement, but slowly and stately moving over the invisible treetops, clear and distinct against the black silhouette of the Ko'olau Range. As the apparition passed over the settlement, there preceded it the whimpering and wailing dogs, but in its path there followed a deathly stillness. Even after it was lost to sight, its presence could be followed by the ever attendant wailing. (McAllister Arch. of Oahu)

Dog Petroglyphs in Nu'uanu
(Sterling and Summers 299)

Opposite 'Alekoki pool in Nu'uanu stream in Nu'uanu Memorial Park grounds are two groups of the most remarkable ancient Hawaiian rock pictures or petroglyphs yet found on O'ahu.

The makai group is conspicuous for the figures of dogs on the face of a cliff. The mauka group has simple human figures, most of them in a cave formed by a cleft in the cliff. The dog figures may be representations of the mythical dog of Nu'uanu, named Kaupe, who is supposed to have resided in this vicinity [Kaheiki heiau, dedicated to Kaupe, was on the ridge above 'Alekoki pool. See the two stories below.]. Some of the human figures have an arch from shoulder to shoulder, perhaps representing a rainbow, the sign of a chief.

For a more detailed description of these petroglyphs, see McAllister's Archaeology of Oahu, Bulletin 104, Bishop Museum, 1933, pages 83-84.

These figures may be quite ancient. Nothing is known of their history or meaning, but it is reasonably certain that they were made by the Hawaiians and not by some pre-Hawaiian people. These petroglyphs are quite exposed to defacing by vandals or the thoughtless, who already are carving names and initials over and around some of these ancient carvings. It is hoped that steps will be taken to protect these rare and inter esting marks of people who were the first inhabitants of Nu'uanu. (Emory, Kenneth P. "The Memorial Guide," Vol. 1, No. 2)

The Story of Kaupe
(S.M. Kamakau, Tales 26-27)

The heiau of Kaheiki is at Kaoihuihu [Ka'oehuehu] on the ridge between the Nu'uanu and Pauoa valleys. It was built by the Menehune for Ka-hanai-a-ke-akua. However, the kingdom was lost to the dog Kaupe. Kahilona, the kahu of the dog, lived at Kaheiki.

The dog Kaupe was the grandson of Kemo'o, and his parents were Ka-papa-i-kawa-luna and Lehu'ula. His house site and his heiau were close to John Meek's place at Lihu'e. During his time, it is said, many people were eaten by this dog, but the ali'i families were spared.

Kaupe went to Maui and ate men there and then went on over to Hawai'i where he captured a chief and returned with him to Lihu'e, O'ahu. The chief's father came to seek his son, thinking to die with him. Kahilona taught the father to pray, and this was the means by which the father saved himself and his son. . . .

The father was taught many prayers by Kahilona, and with his prayers he went to fetch his son at Lihu'e. He went at night, uttering the prayers until he reached the enclosure; he knelt outside the house, still uttering prayers. Then he went around the heiau looking for the signs that Kahilona had revealed to him, constantly uttering prayers. When the god and the dog Kaupe fell asleep within, the father went inside, praying. While he unfastened the boy, he kept on with his praying: "O Ku, O Lono, O Kane and Kanaloa, save the two of us! 'Amama."

The two fled to Ka-puka-ki. Kaupe followed them, raising a whirlwind of dust on the plain of Ke-ahu-moa. The two ran to the rock called Ka-papa-i-kawa-lalo at Ka-hau-iki (on the highway of Wai-koa'e), uttering their prayers. The mana of their god and the strength of the prayers saved them. Kaupe passed by and went on to Hawai'i. The two reached Kaheiki, the place of the kahuna Kahilona. He was sitting beneath the kuahu altar, praying for them. Kahilona advised Kahiki-manewanewa, the father of the boy, to return to Hawai'i and to follow his commands for the death of Kaupe. Kahiki-manewanewa followed all his commands, and this resulted in the death of Kaupe. Kahilona became an ancestor in the kahuna line of succession on )'ahu. The name of the young chief was Peheke'ula.

Kaupe, the Dog God in Hakipu'u
(Sterling and Summers 186-187)

Many a hapless Hawaiian who lived in the fertile valley of Hakipu'u on the windward side of O'ahu lost his life to Kaupe. Hakipu'u is still an excellent place to see Kaupe as a dog in the clouds hovering over the mountains. Hakipu'u is a narrow valley leading to the end of Kane'ohe Bay Just before you reach Moli'i Fishpond and Kualoa Point on today's Government road.

Kaupe would lie in wait above the narrow valley until some fisherman returned home in the early morning hours or Late in the evening. He would close down in his cloud form about the fisherman, lead him into a narrow place and there attack the man. Similar stories are told of Kaupe lying in wait above Paumalu Valley on the western side of Waimea Valley. (Taylor, Clarice Honolulu Star-Bulletin 9/53)

Kapiʻolani Community College - © 2001-2004. All Rights Reserved.
Content Manager: Dennis Kawaharada -
Website Managed by: Kapiʻolani CC Library -
Last Modified: 27-Feb-2023 16:00 HST