Hawaii Ancient Sites and Legends

Tiki Carving

When visiting the south side of the island, you will notice four 16-foot Ki’i (tiki) that have been erected on the corner of Poipu and Ho’owili Road. They were carved by James Kanani Kaulukukui Jr. of the Big Island to mark the sacred site of the Kaneiolouma Complex in Poipu.

The kii facing east with eyes that appear to contain the sky represents the Hawaiian god Kane, “the giver of life.” The other kii represent gods Lono (peace and prosperity), Kanaloa (the ocean) and Ku (war).

Ancient Hawaiians carved tikis and poles to personify the forces of nature namely principal gods, guardians and spirit powers.

Symbolism played an essential role in traditional Hawaiian society.

Ku and Hina – male or husband (kane) and female or wife (wahine) are invoked as great ancestral gods of heaven and earth who have general control over the fruitfulness of earth and the generations of mankind. Ku means “rising upright” and Hina means “leaning down.” The sun at its rising is referred to Ku, the afternoon to Hina. Ku is worshipped under many names including Ku-ka-ili-moku, the “Seizer of Land.” Rituals included human sacrifice, which was not part of the worship of the other gods. Ku, Kane and Lono caused light to shine in upon the world.

Lono – Ancient Tiki God of Fertility and Peace

Lono is a fertility and music god who descended to Earth on a rainbow to marry Laka. Lono was also a god of peace. In his honor, the Makahiki Festival was held each year and during the period from October to February when all unnecessary work and war was kapu (taboo or forbidden).

Kane – Ancient Tiki God of Light and Life

Kane created the sky, earth and upper heaven. He owned a tiny seashell that turned into a huge sailboat when placed on the ocean’s waves. The user of the boat needed only to state his destination and the boat would take him there!

Kanaloa – Ancient Tiki God of the Sea

Kanaloa is symbolized by the squid and typically associated with Kane in chants and legends where they are portrayed as complementary powers similar to the yin-yang of Chinese Taoism.

Superstitions and Omens

Don’t take Lava Rock home from Hawaii!

Pele’s Curse is a well-known myth in Hawaii which is believed by many people to be true. Pele’s curse states that it is bad luck to remove lava rocks, sand or any natural elements from the islands. It is believed you will suffer misfortune until you return the natural materials back to Hawaii.

Beware of the Night Marchers and never look them in the eye!

The Night marchers are believed to be the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors. They are said to roam specific locations by torchlight at night, visiting old battlefields and sacred sites. You can hear them chanting as they march to the beat of primitive drums. Should you encounter the Night Marchers, you must lie quietly on your stomach and never dare to make eye contact with them. If you do, you will suffer a grim fate and be forced to march with them for all of eternity.

The appearance of an animal one is regarded as an “aumakua” – An Omen (of good or ill).

Aumakua is a family god or deified ancestor. N aumkua frequently manifested as animals such as sharks (mano) or owls (pueo). N aumkua were worshipped at localities (often rocks) where they were believed to “dwell.” There are also many stories of n aumkua (in animal form) intervening to save their descendants from harm. It is extremely bad luck to harm a manifested aumakua.

Night Marchers

Beware of the Night Marchers and never look them in the eye!

The Night marchers are believed to be the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors. They are said to roam specific locations by torchlight at night, visiting old battlefields and sacred sites. You can hear them chanting as they march to the beat of primitive drums. Should you encounter the Night Marchers, you must lie quietly on your stomach and never dare to make eye contact with them. If you do, you will suffer a grim fate and be forced to march with them for all of eternity.

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Kahua O Kneiolouma (Kneiolouma Complex) in Poipu, is a cultural site with the remnants of an ancient Hawaiian village that contains structures dating to at least the mid1400’s. It is considered sacred to the Hawaiian culture as well as an important historic landmark for the residents of Kaua’i.  Within the complex, remnants of house sites, fishponds, taro fields, above ground irrigation channels, shrines, altars, and idol sites lie relatively undisturbed near the scene of epic battles and legends in history spanning a millennium. Near its center, the complex contains what may be the only intact Makahiki sporting arena in the state. The site also contains the sacred spring of Waiohai. For more information http://www.kaneiolouma.org.

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Hawaii’s many myths and legends are similar to those of other Polynesian cultures and are passed on to future generations in the form of stories and chants that tell the tales of nature, creation, gods and men.

The four main gods (akua) are Ku, Kane, Lono and Kanaloa. They are the offspring of the sky god Rangi and the Earth goddess Papa. There are many lesser gods (kupua). These demigods are associated with certain professions, and many were tricksters sometimes appearing as a man and sometimes being able to change shape into an animal, vegetable, or mineral form with supernatural powers. Hawaiians also revered family gods or guardians (aumakua). Tiki statues were carved to represent the image and embodiment of that specific god’s mana, or power.

Kane: Father of living creatures and the highest of the four major deities. He is the father of Pele. Kane was the god of wild foods, trees and plants. He was also the god of the forests and jungles with all their gifts like wood, medicinal plants and leaves. In various myths, he owns a seashell which, when placed in the water, grows into a boat for travel between the islands. Kane was generally a peaceful deity, and human sacrifices were never offered to him.

Ku: God of war. He wields a fiery mace and is credited for his battle prowess. Human sacrifices were made to Ku at heiau temples in ancient times.

Kanaloa: God of the underworld and a teacher of magic. Ruler of the ocean. He had complementary power and was a close companion of Kane.

Lono: God of agriculture. Associated with fertility, rainfall, music and peace. Lono used a net to fish up the sun and the moon from the seas and set them in orbit. When it came time to create humans, he supplied the fertile soil to create them; his brother Ku sculpted the bodies; and their oldest brother Kane breathed life into them. He married the goddess Laka.

Pele: Goddess of the volcanoes, fire, lightning and wind. Pele is known to be as dangerous and uncontrollable as the elements she rules over. Her volatile nature prompted her father, Kane, to dismiss her from the heavens so she wandered the Earth, creating the world’s volcanoes until finally establishing her home on Mount Kilauea on the Big Island.

Hina: Goddess of the Moon. Hina was a beautiful, determined young woman pursued by men and other creatures. She became tired of living in the crowd and fled to the moon where she eventually became the goddess of the moon.

Laka: Wife of the god Lono. Fertility and reproduction goddess and the goddess of love and beauty. She is also known as the goddess of the hula and many hymns sung during hula dances are dedicated to her. The red lehua blossom is sacred to Laka.

heiau

The area at the mouth of the Wailua River was called Wailua Nui Hoano which means Great Sacred Wailua. In ancient Hawaii, Wailua was the capital of Kauai and home to Royalty and the High Chiefs of Kauai, the ali’i . Seven sacred heiau (Hawaiian temple) stretch from the Mouth of the Wailua River to the top of Mount Wai’ale’ale.

Within the interior of the first heiau, Hikina-akala, was a pu’uhonua (place of refuge) called Hauloa. Located on the southern side of the mouth of the Wailua River, this pu’uhonua offered a safe place where a person who had broken a kapu or committed a crime could avoid punishment or execution. By remaining within the walls and performing certain rites prescribed by the priests, the person could atone for the crime and earn the right to return to society after several days.

Travel Pono

The people and the land. In Hawaii, both words are often used conjointly. The concept of “Malama’aina” has been ingrained in us from an early age. It is a traditional Hawaiian value that means to care and nurture the land so that it can provide the necessities to sustain life for the people and future generations. “Travel Pono” is the expression that Sabra Kauka, a cultural practitioner on Kauai, uses to describe the importance of respecting the land. Sabra suggests the idea of volunteering with a community group that is responsible for maintaining a sacred site. The knowledge one can gain from the experience is invaluable.

Hawaii is our home, and it is with Aloha that we welcome all who want to a part of our Ohana. So, it is with sincerity that everyone does their part to take care of this place as if it is your home, too.

Pele

Pele is one of many gods and goddesses found within Hawaiian mythology, story, hula, chant and prayers. She is believed to live at Hale Ma’uma’u on the volcano of Kilauea using her famous digging stick known in Hawaiian as o’o or pa’oa to churn up the molten lava from the depths of the earth. She has been sending ribbons of fiery lava down the mountainside and adding new land around the southeastern shore almost continuously since 1983.

Ancient Hawaiian chants describe her as “She-Who-Shapes-The-Sacred-Land”. Oral traditions tell in veiled form of many eruptions formed by an angry Pele before the first European, the missionary Rev. William Ellis, saw the summit in 1823. The caldera was the site of nearly continuous activity during the 19th century and the early part of this century. Since 1952 there have been 34 eruptions, and since January 1983 eruptive activity has

Amakua

The ancient Hawaiians believed that the appearance of an animal was regarded as an “aumakua.” This was considered an omen, favorable or unfavorable.

Aumakua is a family god or deified ancestor. N aumkua frequently manifested as animals such as sharks (mano) or owls (pueo). N aumkua were worshipped at certain areas (often rocks) where they were believed to hang out. There are also many stories of n aumkua (in animal form) intervening to save their descendants from harm. It is extremely bad luck to harm a manifested aumakua.

surfing seth

Eddie Aikau was the first official lifeguard at Waimea Bay, on Oahu’s North Shore, and at the same time developed a reputation as one of the best big wave riders in the world. Partnering with his younger brother/lifeguard Clyde, the pair never lost a life on their watch. Eddie surfed every major swell to come through the North Shore from 1967 to 1978. In 1978, Aikau was among a handful selected to join the cultural expedition of the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule’a, which set sail from Magic Island, Oahu, bound for Tahiti. Hokule’a soon encountered treacherous seas outside the Hawaiian Islands and the canoe capsized. After a wild night adrift, Aikau set off on his paddleboard on March 17 in search of help for his stranded crew members. He was never seen again. The ensuing search for Aikau was the largest air-sea search in Hawaii history.

“EDDIE WOULD GO”

(Eddie ho’omau!)

Says Clyde:

“Eddie Would Go to me doesn’t necessarily mean involvement with only the ocean. I believe Eddie Would Go if nobody else would go. Eddie Would Go where people wouldn’t go. Eddie Would Go and help people in the water when he didn’t even know them. Eddie Would Go on the biggest waves that would pull through Waimea Bay when most people wouldn’t go. I think the phrase Eddie Would Go is really a phrase that would ultimately say that one would put themselves out there for the betterment of others. That could relate to anybody – a person from Waikiki, a tourist, or some extreme surfer. Just helping out somebody else is what Eddie Would Go is about.”