Vikings of the Sunrise
18. The Northern Angle
18. The Northern Angle
Behold Hawai‘i, an island, a people
The people of Hawa‘i are the offspring of Tahiti.
From Havai‘i, the mother of islands in the centre of Polynesia, courageous navigators followed the constellation of Meremere (Orion's Belt) for 2400 miles to the north to discover and people a new Hawai‘i. The northern islands are strung in a row from southeast to northwest and consist of Hawai‘i, Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. Beyond Niihau stretch a number of rocky islets and reefs. When European navigators arrived on the scene, these outer islets were unoccupied, but Nihoa and Necker with their rocky terraces and stone gods and implements bore silent but eloquent witness to previous Polynesian visits.
The different myths concerning the origin of the islands indicate that conflicting theories have been composed by various schools of thought. Though the renowned Maui retains the credit for discovering fire and for snaring the sun, a local fisherman has robbed him of the fishing exploits attributed to him in other lands. The fishing-up of the islands is thus referred to in the chant of the voyagers who page 247 invited Lono-kaeho of Tahiti to return with them to Hawai‘i:
Come back and dwell in Hawai‘i-of-the-green-back,
A land that was formed in the ocean,
That was drawn up from the sea,
From the very depths of Kanaloa;
The white coral of the ocean caves that was caught on the hook of the fisherman,
The great fisherman of Kapaahu,
The great fisherman Kapu-he'e-ua-nui.
According to this myth, Kapu with the long name, while fishing from Kapaahu, drew up a piece of coral on his hook. He was about to cast it aside when a priest advised him to offer a pig to the gods with an appropriate prayer in order that the coral might grow into land. Kapu did so, and the coral grew into the large island of Hawai‘i. Encouraged by such success, Kapu continued fishing up pieces of coral which successive pig offerings materialized into Maui, Oahu, and the other islands of the group.
A second myth carries on the idea of spontaneous emergence that has been attributed to the older Havai‘i of the Society group:
Now appeareth forth Hawai‘i-nui-akea,
Emerging out of utter darkness.
An island, a land is born,
The row of islands stretching away from Nu'umea.
The group of islands beyond the horizon of Tahiti.
A unique local myth gives the primary parent, Wakea (Space), the power of producing islands by various wives. Wakea is the Hawaiian form of the Tahitian Atea and corresponds to the Cook Islands' Vatea and to the New Zealand Rangi (Sky-space). In the Hawaiian myth, as in the Cook Islands and New Zealand, Wakea married Papa who was further named Papa-hanau-moku (Papa-who-gave-birth-to-islands).page 248
Papa gave birth to the islands of Hawai‘i and Maui and to a daughter named Ho‘ohoku-ka-lani. Then she went south to Tahiti to recuperate. During her absence, Wakea mated with Kaula, who gave birth to Lanai, named Lanai-of-Kaula. Wakea then mated with another female named Hina, who bore the island of Molokai. After the birth of those islands, a golden plover named Laukaula, on its annual migration south from Alaska, called in at Hawai‘i and heard the gossip about Wakea's infidelity. On arriving in Tahiti, Laukaula, referred to in song as the ‘teetering plover’, told the tale of Wakea's new wives to Papa. Papa was greatly incensed and returned in haste to Hawai‘i, where she squared the account by mating with Lua and giving birth to the island of Oahu, which bears the honorific title of Oahu-nui-a-Lua (Great-Oahu-of-Lua). Papa then forgave Wakea, returned to him, and gave birth to the remaining islands of Kauai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe.
David Malo, the Hawaiian historian, thus naively sums up the position:
‘In the genealogy of Wakea, it is said that Papa gave birth to these islands. Another account has it that this group of islands was not begotten but really made by the hands of Wakea. We now perceive their error. If the women in that ancient time gave birth to countries then indeed would they do so in these days; and if at that time they were made by the hands of Wakea, doubtless the same thing would be done now.
‘In the genealogy of the Kumulipo, it is said that the land grew up of itself, not that it was begotten, nor that it was made by hand. Perhaps this is the true account and these Hawaiian Islands did grow up of themselves, and after that human beings appeared on them. Perhaps this is the best solution of the mistaken views held by the ancients; who knows?’page 249
Yes, who knows? Probably the geologists will support David Malo and the Kumulipo, for the like of Wakea and Papa are not to be seen today.
The Kumulipo is a creation chant composed in honour of an ancestor of King Kalakaua. The king's sister, Liliu-o-ka-lani, while confined by her political opponents in Iolani Palace and afterwards in Washington Place, Honolulu, translated the chant which was published in Boston. The chant is divided into sixteen eras, of which the first seven cover a period of darkness, as indicated by the concluding lines of each era, ‘’Tis night’. Various terms are applied to the long period of night, such as Po-‘ele‘ele (Deepest darkness), Po-kanokano (Impenetrable darkness), and Po-kinikini (Myriad nights). In the Hawaiian dialect, the original Polynesian k was dropped as in Tahiti, but k was substituted for the original t. N was used instead of ng, l instead of r, and w instead of v. Hence the Po-‘ele'ele of Hawai‘i represents the Po-‘ere‘ere of Tahiti and the Po-kerekere of New Zealand; Po-kanokano, the Po-ta‘ota‘o of Tahiti and Po-tangotango of New Zealand. Po-kinikini is the Po-tinitini of other areas.
The letters of the Hawaiian alphabet were established in 1826 by a committee of missionaries who used letters to represent the sounds as they heard them. At this time, the change from t to k had begun on the island of Hawai‘i but had not reached Kauai where t was used until comparatively recent times. Colonel Spaulding, from the reports to the American Board of Missions in Boston, prepared a paper read before the Hawaiian Historical Society in 1930 in which he showed how the alphabet was compiled. The committee of nine missionaries took various letters in turn and voted on them. The final report, facetiously headed ‘Report of the Committee of Health on the state of the Hawaiian language’, page 250 set forth its conclusions in terms to justify the name assumed by the committee. The greatest difficulty was experienced in choosing between l and r, k and t, and w and v. ‘K is deemed of sufficient capacity to perform its own functions and that of its counterpart T. L though two pills have been given to expel it is to remain to do its own office and that of its yoke fellow R. R though closely connected with the vitals is expelled by five or six votes or expellants, though nearly the same quantity of preservatives has been applied. T though claiming rights as a native member has suffered amputation by the knife and saw of the majority. V, a contiguous member and claiming similar rights, has suffered the same fate, and a gentle [illegible] has been applied to dry the wounds of both.' Thus the committee of health experts chose l, k, and w, but as r, t, and v are the consonants used in Tahiti, whence the Hawaiians came, I have a feeling that the purgatives and the knife were applied to the wrong patient in each pair.
A Polynesian kinswoman of mine asked, as I was leaving the Bishop Museum, ‘Hele ‘oe i ke kaona?’ (Are you going to the kaona?). ‘What is kaona?’ I asked, though I knew quite well. ‘Town,’ she replied. ‘That is how we say it in Hawaiian.’ ‘Why don't you say taone?' I asked. ‘That is the way the Maoris say it and taone is nearer in sound to town than kaona?' ‘How can I,’ she replied, ‘when there is no t in the Hawaiian alphabet?’
The Kumulipo chant states that during the long period of impenetrable darkness that existed for countless nights, there were born in sequence shellfish, seaweed, grasses, plants, fish, insects, birds, mice, dogs, and bats. In the eighth era, the Myriad Nights merged into the Night-receding-over-distant-waves, and Day succeeded Night. In this period were born the man Ki‘i (Maori, Tiki), the woman La‘ilai‘, page 251 and the gods Kane (Tane), and Kanaloa (Ta‘aroa or Tangaroa). Mention is also made of the Great-octopus which figures in the myths of other islands.
The ninth and tenth eras deal mainly with Ki‘i and La‘ila‘i, who increased the population of the world and from whom the sacred birthright of man is derived.
The following eras enumerate male and female pairs in the form of a genealogy and give long lists of various kinds of Nights. The gods Kane and Kanaloa, Wakea and his wives, the Maui brothers and their father Akalana all occur, but the gods Ku and Lono are not mentioned. In the fourteenth era, the stars are hung out and 81 star names are enumerated. The task accomplished, the bard sings:
The heavens did swing,
The earth does swing
In the starry space.
This recital, after finally reaching human ancestors, ends with Lono-i-ka-makahiki, the high chief in whose honour the chant was composed. The bard had accomplished a wonderful feat in assembling over 2000 proper names in sequence and memorizing his composition. The fact that the chant was orally transmitted for over one hundred years until an introduced alphabet allowed it to be written gives an insight into the power of memory exercised by the Hawaiians.
The major gods of Hawai‘i are Kane (Tane), Ku (Tu), Lono (Ro‘o, Rongo), and Kanaloa (Ta‘aroa, Tangaroa), derived directly from Tahiti. The reduction of the pantheon to four had led the modern Hawaiians to interpret the gods in terms of the Christian religion. Kane, Ku, and Lono have been selected to represent the Trinity, and Kanaloa has been conveniently relegated to Hades as the Devil. The selection of the Devil has been unfortunate in view of the concept held page 252 in the motherland of Tahiti that Ta‘aroa was the Supreme Creator. This modern rationalization is contradicted by the older myth that the Underworld is presided over by Milu (Mini in central Polynesia and southern New Zealand).
The origin of the gods is clothed with the confusion characteristic of the Hawaiian genealogies. The Kumulipo states that Kane and Kanaloa were born together as the children of Kumu-honua (Foundation-of-the-earth) and Haloiho (Peer-beneath). Nineteen pairs later, in the same list, Wakea appears. This placement is directly contradicted by the chant of the priest, Pakui, who is described as a lineal descendant of historians from the very darkest ages. He states that Wakea lived with Papa, and born to them were Kane and Kanaloa. In the New Zealand myth, Rangi (Sky) takes the place of Wakea (Space) and, by marrying Papa, gave birth to Tane and Tangaroa. The origin of the gods Ku and Lono apparently did not stimulate the literary efforts of the Hawaiian bards. All bards agree that Wakea was the son of Kahiko (Ancient-one) and his wife Kupulana-ke-hau (Growth-of-power).
The origin of man shares in the general confusion of conflicting records. In the Kumulipo, Ki‘i (Ti‘i, Tiki) was born a man, and La‘ila‘i a woman in the eighth era, which ushered in the Day ending the long period of profound Night. Wakea, the father of islands and of the gods, Kane and Kanaloa, does not appear until the twelfth era. Thus man was born before the gods, which is probably as it should be, but is not supported by the myths of other parts of Polynesia.
In the lengthy genealogy of Opu‘u-ka-honua it is stated that Opu‘u-ka-honua came to Hawai‘i from Tahiti with his two younger brothers and one woman, and found the islands already inhabited by human beings. On analysis of the page 253 generations from Opu‘u-ka-honua to Kamehameha I, who died in 1819, it has been estimated that Opu‘u-ka-honua landed in about 225 b.c. and that Wakea was born of human stock in 125 a.d. Thus Opu‘u-ka-honua came to an already populated Hawai‘i 350 years before the islands were born of Wakea and Papa.
Another myth states that Wakea committed incest with his daughter, Ho‘ohoku-ka-lani, and produced Haloa from whom the human stock is descended. This myth has affinity with central Polynesia where Ho‘ohoku appears as Fa‘ahotu or Hakahotu. In Tongareva Atea married Hakahotu and produced the ancestors of the chiefly lines of that atoll.
To make confusion even greater, the Hawaiian historian Kepelino, after conversion to the Christian faith, revised Hawaiian mythology. He states that the major gods, Kane, Ku, and Lono, who were gods without source, creating earth and sky, the celestial bodies, and the living things of earth, created man to rule over the things they had made. They fashioned a man out of earth, breathed into him the breath of life, and named him Kumu-honua (Earth-foundation). They fashioned from the side of the man a woman named Lalo-honua. These two were placed in a fertile land and forbidden to eat the sacred mountain apple of Kane (ohia kapu a Kane). A sea-bird deceived the woman and she ate of the apple, as did her husband. When Kane saw what had happened, he sent them away. The trees parted to make a path for them and, as they passed, the vegetation closed in behind them, forever closing the path to the fertile land from which they had been expelled. It is unnecessary to go into details of the flood which followed because of the wickedness of the people and the building of an ark by the one righteous man named Nu‘u. This neo-myth finds no confirmation in the page 254 other Polynesian areas, and its nearest affinity is with the Book of Genesis with which Kepelino was evidently saturated when he wrote his version of the ‘Traditions of Hawaii’.
The leaders of the early expeditions from Europe kept logs from which they wrote up their impressions when they returned to their homes. These accounts are interesting for the descriptions of what they actually saw, but their interpretations of native culture are inaccurate. The whalers and traders who came afterward were illiterate people who did not appreciate the oral literature of a people whom they regarded as ignorant savages. The missionaries who followed in their wake were too busy substituting their own mythology to take an immediate interest in the exact details of the mythology they sought to destroy. The Hawaiians were given new standards of value in which their native myths and traditions had no commercial or spiritual recognition. The continuity of their teaching was broken.
Later when men like David Malo, Kepelino, and Kama-kau were encouraged to write up their native myths and traditions, they attempted to translate the Creation and Flood of Christian teaching into Hawaiian myth. The most extraordinary example of interpreting native lore into a Christian form is provided by the native historian, Kamakau. It so happens that in the Hawaiian cycle of thirty night names for the lunar month, the name of the god Kane was given to the 27th night from the new moon, and a series of four nights named after the god Ku commenced with the third night from the new moon. The Hawaiians had established four taboo periods in each month, and one of them was the taboo of Ku. Kamakau states that the world was created by Kane and that he commenced work on the 27th, the night named after him. He worked on the 27th, 28th, 29th, and page 255 30th, and on into the 1st and 2nd of the following month. In these six days he completed the work of creation and rested on the seventh day, which was the third of the month, or the first Ku. He therefore hallowed that day and declared it ‘the first Sabbath, the great Sabbath of the god Ku’. Kamakau was apparently so intent on making Hawaiian creation conform to the Biblical story that he overlooked the fact that he made Kane work through his own taboo period, which was imposed on the night of the 27th and not lifted until the morning of the 29th. Abraham Fornander, who recorded many of these later versions, said, ‘The Polynesian legend of the creation of man shows too remarkable an accord with the Hebrew account to be lightly passed over.’ As a result of his simple faith, he linked the Polynesians with a Hebraic civilization in distant Asia, whereas the unbelieving student of today links these local versions with the Book of Genesis as expounded in Hawai‘i.
In spite of contradictions, inclusion of Biblical teaching, and dislocation in the time sequence of gods, heroes, and ancestors, Hawaiian mythology has retained certain elements that belong to a widely distributed Polynesian pattern. Such are the long period of darkness succeeded by light, the presence of Wakea and Papa as the parents of the gods, the existence of Kane, Ku, Kanaloa, and Lono as major gods, the association of Ki‘i with the first male being, and the appearance of the culture heroes Maui, Kaha‘i, and Laka in the sixteenth era of the Kumulipo.
Legend states that Hawai‘i was first settled by Hawai‘i-loa, who dwelt on the eastern shores of the land of Kapakapa-ua-a-Kane. His grandfather and father were Aniani-ku and Aniani-ka-lani. I mention them because we find them as lands in New Zealand where the name Hawai‘i-loa occurs as page 256 Hawaiki-roa, an ancient land. Hawai‘i-loa and his navigator Makali‘i (Pleiades) made many fishing trips to a sea on the east named the Sea-where-the-fish-do-run. On one of his long trips his navigator urged him to sail farther on. They sailed in the direction of the Pleiades and the planet Jupiter (Iao) as a morning star. They sailed into another sea named Many-coloured-ocean-of-Kane. They passed on to the Deep-coloured-sea, where they came to an island. The discoverer named the island after himself, Hawai‘i. Pleased with his discovery, Hawai‘i-loa returned to his home, picked up his wife, family, and retinue, and sailed back to Hawai‘i, where he remained to become the first settler.
Much speculation has arisen among modern students as to the interpretation of this legend. Some hold that the Hawai‘i referred to in sailing east was Havai‘i in the Society Islands. Others hold that the land of Kapakapa-ua-a-Kane was located in Indonesia and that Hawai‘i-loa sailed northeast through the Carolines and the Many-coloured-ocean-of-Kane, studded with the shallows of coral atolls and lagoons. Passing along to the Marshall Islands, the navigator sailed 2100 miles over the Deep-coloured-sea to Hawai‘i. Still others hold that Hawai‘i-loa lived with his brother Ki in the Society Islands, whence he sailed to Hawai‘i. The date of his settlement has been placed at 450 a.d. and, until some other writer has the temerity to propose another date, we may accept it with reservations. Certain it is that some Polynesian leader arrived early with his followers, and the name of Hawai‘i-loa may be used as a symbol for want of a better. Hawai‘i is such a widely used place name that the theory that the first settler named the island after himself does not stand inspection. It is more likely that the name of the first settler was forgotten, and the historians gave him the name of the page 257 island in order to establish their claim that he was the first settler.
Legend merges with tradition when we come to the later influx of people from Tahiti. These voyages of exploration and settlement were led by chiefs who became distinguished ancestors of the chiefly families of Hawai‘i. In all these traditions, recognition is given to the fact that there were people here before them, descendants of the people who came with Hawai‘i-loa. They are referred to as the Menehune people (ka poe Menehune). Myth states that they were the descendants of Menehune, the son of Lua-nu‘u, who appears in the chiefly genealogies of other areas as Ruanuku.
The Menehune people were probably well distributed over all the Hawaiian islands, but myths and traditions concerning them cling more thickly to the island of Kauai. It is probable that the later invaders pushed them gradually out of other islands so that they congregated in Kauai, the last of the large islands, at the northwest end of the chain. From there they apparently withdrew to the barren and rocky islets of Nihoa and Necker, as evidenced by numerous terraces, stone implements, and stone images. Nihoa, the nearer of the two, was known to the later Hawaiians through fishing expeditions, but Necker with its stone images is not mentioned in the later tales. The type of terrace with raised platforms and upright stone pillars is reminiscent of the inland temples of Tahiti, attributed to the Manahune people of that island. This similarity favours the theory that the Hawaiian Menehune came from Tahiti and not through the Marshall Islands. They must have led a bare existence on Nihoa and Necker, owing to the lack of water and vegetable foods. The absence of skeletal material argues that after subsisting for some time, they launched out on the deep again and disappeared into the unknown.page 258
In the Kauai tales, the Menehune were credited with being skilled artisans who made many of the famous open temples and fishponds. They worked only under cover of darkness. Some of the temples were alleged to have been completed in one night, the workmen stretching in a continuous line between the stone quarry and the temple site, and passing huge stones from hand to hand. A chief of the later people employed a group of Menehune, and when the work was completed, he paid the labourers with a single fresh-water shrimp. A neighbouring hill was named Shrimp Hill to celebrate the occasion, and there it stands as a memorial to the parsimony of employers in those days. The one shrimp was probably introduced into the tale to stress the magic power of the Menehune who could feed the multitude on one small crustacean. The Menehune ditch at Waimea in Kauai is also attributed to these master craftsmen. The ditch, which carried water to irrigate a large taro flat, was led past a perpendicular cliff by building up a wall and waterway with smoothly cut stone blocks to form a structure which is unique in Polynesia.
Legend states that the only foods available in Hawai‘i on the arrival of the Menehune were the fruit of the pandanus, the pith of the tree fern, the root of the Cordyline (ti), and the berries of the ohelo and akala. In Kauai, the stronghold of the Menehune, there are two forms of stone pounders which are not found in any of the other islands of the group, They are termed ‘ring pounders’ and ‘stirrup pounders’ because of their shape, and they have comparatively narrow, elliptical pounding surfaces which form a marked contrast to the large, convex, rounded surfaces of the pounders used in the other islands to pound the taro tuber into the poi paste that formed the staple food of the later inhabitants. It is page 259 intriguing to associate the large round-surfaced pounder with the later people who introduced taro and other cultivable food plants, and to attribute the ring and stirrup pounders of Kauai to the Menehune who originally made them for use in the preparation of food from the fruit of the pandanus or perhaps a coarse variety of taro.
The Menehune pioneers have come to be regarded as gnomes and fairies. It is even said that they were a race of dwarfs, an erroneous description similar to that given by the later story-tellers to their Manahune kinsmen in Tahiti. It seems to be a Polynesian characteristic to laud one's own family ancestors and to belittle those who preceded them in exploration and settlement. The Menehune were real, live people of Polynesian stock, and they are entitled to the honour and glory of being the first to cross the ocean wastes to Hawai‘i.
Somewhere about the beginning of the twelfth century of the Christian era, there was a great influx of adventurous leaders to Hawai‘i. Puna-nui settled in Kauai; Newa-lani and Maweke in Oahu; Kalana-nu‘u, Hua, ana others in Maui; and Hika-po-loa in Hawai‘i. Some of them are referred to as contemporaries who came together, and it is evident that they separated for settlement purposes so as not to clash with each other. Perhaps some adventurous voyagers sailed north from the central Havai‘i and rediscovered the lands originally found by Hawai‘i-loa. This explorer must have returned to the homeland and given sailing directions to those who came later as settlers and brought with them their womenfolk, cultivable food plants, and domesticated animals.
The land whence these settlers came is named Kahiki, the Hawaiian form of Tahiti. Various specific districts in the homeland, such as Pali-uli, are referred to in song:page 260
O Pali-uli, hidden land of Kane,
Land in Kalana-i-kauola,
In Kahiki-ku, in Kapakapa-ua-a-Kane,
Land with springs of water, moist and plenteous,
Land greatly beloved of the gods.
However, the details of locality given in legend cannot be accepted as accurate. Similar local details have been inserted by each island group in the general tales of Maui and other culture heroes. The Hawaiian tale of the famous beauty, Lu‘ukia, is further evidence of the inaccuracy of place names in legend.
Lu‘ukia is said to have been the granddaughter of Hika-po-loa, who settled in the island of Hawai‘i. She married a man named Olopana and they lived in the Waipio valley in Hawai‘i. A great flood inundated the Waipio valley, and Olopana and Lu‘ukia sailed to Tahiti, where they settled down. Olopana appears in Tahiti as Oropa‘a, a noted chief who was the ancestor of the Oropa‘a tribe of Tahiti. His wife was Ru‘utia, which is the Tahitian form of Lu‘ukia. Among the ancestors of the Maori in far-south New Zealand are Tu-te-Koropanga, whose wife was Rukutia. Koropanga and Rukutia are the Maori forms of Olopana and Lu‘ukia. From such evidence we must conclude that these two ancestors really belonged to Tahiti and that their descendants went to both New Zealand and Hawai‘i from the central area of distribution. If Lu‘ukia belonged to Tahiti, one wonders if her grandfather, Hika-po-loa, ever lived in Hawai‘i. The Hawaiian historians brought Lu‘ukia to Hawai‘i on the wings of fancy, but they conveniently returned her to Tahiti to fit in with the tale which follows.
Lu‘ukia was a very beautiful woman and captivated a powerful chief in Tahiti named Moikeha. Lu‘ukia succumbed to the advances of Moikeha and became his mistress. page 261 The Hawaiian story has it that Moikeha was an elder brother of Olopana, who was agreeable to the sharing of his wife. If so, this follows the Hawaiian custom of punalua in which two friends may share the same wife by a mutual agreement which removes from such relationship the European idea of immorality. All went well until another chief, whose advances had been rejected by Lu‘ukia, sowed the seeds of discord in her mind by lies that Moikeha had been defaming her to others. Lu‘ukia, in order to deny her favours to Moikeha, had a chastity kilt plaited with sennit braid. It reached from her waist to her thighs, and report says that the ends of the braid were so cunningly concealed that the garment could not be removed except perhaps by the craftsman who had invented the form of lashing. The garment was termed the pa‘u-o-Lu‘ukia (skirt of Lu‘ukia), and the complicated lashing technique was later used in lashing outrigger booms to the hull of a canoe. A native fisherman in Hawai‘i, showing me a very neat lashing on a pearl-shell hook, said that the pattern was termed the pa‘u-o-Lu‘ukia. The pattern was produced by figure-of-eight turns, but the inviolability of the lashing has probably been exaggerated to embellish the tale.
Moikeha, finding that Lu'ukia had turned against him, decided to go on a long sea voyage in order to forget her. He ordered his foster son and navigator, Kama-hua-lele, to fit up his voyaging canoe, saying, ‘Let us sail for Hawai‘i because I am agonized for love of this woman. When the ridgepole of my house, Lanikeha, sinks below the horizon, then I shall cease to think of Tahiti.’
Kama-hua-lele sailed the ship north under Orion's Belt, and one fine morning they lowered their matting sail in Hilo Bay. The navigator became bard as, standing on the deck of the double canoe, he raised his voice in salutation to page 262 the new land in the chant whose opening lines form the heading of this chapter. Moikeha took up his residence in the island of Kauai, where he married the two great-granddaughters of Puna-nui. He had a son named Kila whom he sent back to Tahiti to invite his son La‘a, by a Tahitian wife, to visit him in Hawai‘i. Kila, with the veteran navigator, Kama-hua-lele, duly accomplished the voyage and returned with La‘a, who was named La‘a-mai-Kahiki (Raka-from-Tahiti). La‘a brought with him a famous drum whose beat Moikeha recognized as his son's ship approached Kauai. After remaining with his father for some time, La‘a went to Maui and finally returned to Tahiti. He set sail from a channel between Maui and the small island of Kahoolawe and, in memory of that returning point, the channel was named Ke Ala-i-Kahiki (The Way-to-Tahiti). Traditions state that on the death of Moikeha, La‘a-mai-Kahiki returned to Kauai and carried off the bones of his father that they might rest beside those of his ancestors in the homeland of Tahiti.
The legends of this period recount many voyages to and from Tahiti. In sailing south from Ke Ala-i-Kahiki, the course was maintained by keeping the North Star (Hokupa) directly astern. When the Navel-of-Space (Piko-o-wakea) was reached, the North Star sank into the sea behind but the star Newe was taken as the southern guide and the constellation of Humu was overhead. A significant voyage was that of Kaha‘i, who sailed to Tahiti and returned with breadfruit which were planted at Kualoa on Oahu.
The last voyager mentioned in Hawaiian traditions is the priest, Paao, who came from Havai‘i (Ra‘iatea) in about 1275 a.d. He arrived in Hawai‘i and, finding that the prestige of the high chief Kapawa had degenerated, he returned to Ra‘iatea to procure some chief who would restore the page 263 prestige of rank. He first selected Lono-kaeho, whom he invited to return with him to Hawai‘i-of-the-green-back. Lono refused and Paao then prevailed upon Pili-kaaiea to settle in Hawai‘i. The line of Pili, by intermarriage with the older lines, became powerful in the islands. Paao, as a priest of Havai‘i (Ra‘iatea) with possessions in Vavau (Pora-pora), is credited with introducing into the Hawaiian islands the form of temple (heiau), human sacrifice, and the red feather girdle used in the investiture of kings. Many writers have held that Paao came from Savai‘i in Samoa and held possessions in Vavau in Tonga, but as the three things introduced by him are characteristic of central Polynesia and are absent in western Polynesia, the Samoan theory must be abandoned.
The voyages between Hawai‘i and Tahiti ceased with Paao. The island became stocked with food plants, and pigs, dogs, and fowls. Taro became one of the staple foods and was mashed with stone pounders with rounded knobs at the top unlike the ornamentation of Tahiti. The mashed taro was thinned with water to form a paste termed poi that entered into the daily menu of the people. In other parts of Polynesia the taro could be served on leaf platters, but the poi of Hawai‘i required containers that would not leak. Large gourds with the tops cut off were used for serving bowls and smaller ones for individuals. Gourds cut shorter were also used as covers. The wood craftsmen were evidently influenced by the gourd containers, for they made wooden bowls of like shape with covers. Hence it is that Hawai‘i is characterized by round bowls rather than by the ‘beaker’ type with legs that are common in central Polynesia. Some Hawaiian bowls had an inner projecting flange which served as a finger wiper.
To transport quantities of mashed food, the general carry-nets had to be made to support the bowls. The nets and page 264 carrying poles of Hawai‘i are the most elaborate in Polynesia, the retaining knobs of some of the poles being carved as human heads. Thus the form in which food was served initiated developments that created local differences in the crafts.
The paper mulberry was brought from Tahiti and the manufacture of bark cloth received various local innovations. A departure from the usual parallel lines on the bark cloth beaters was made by carving various patterns upon them and thus impressing different watermarks on the cloth. Bamboo splints were also carved with different patterns, dipped in dye, and stamped on the cloth to produce a rich variety of design. Capes and cloaks of fine meshed netting were covered with red feathers that marked chiefly rank in Polynesia. Later yellow feathers were added to create designs and, as the yellow feathers were more scarce, yellow became the chiefly colour in Hawai‘i. Rich designs of golden triangles, crescents, and even circles on a bright red background made these regal garments a peak of achievement in the use of colour. Helmets with a median ridge like those of ancient Greece, also covered with feathers, are unique both in design and technique. Wickerwork heads with pearl-shell eyes and mouths fringed with dogs’ teeth were covered with feathers as worthy representations of the gods of war.
Hereditary chiefs ruled over districts and acquired great power. They owned the land and collected taxes through subsidiary chiefs at stated times, particularly at the Makahiki festival held after the principal crop was garnered in November. In some exclusive families, brothers married sisters as an arrogant assertion that no other family was sufficiently aristocratic to produce a fitting spouse. This custom was unique in Polynesia. The issue of such marriages were regarded with the deepest possible reverence. The Hawaiians created such a page 265 number of taboos that an official executioner was appointed to inflict the punishments that the gods might have overlooked.
After a powerful chief had gained control of an entire island, the people were grouped by families in districts rather than tribes named after common ancestors. Men did the cooking, and the two sexes were not allowed to eat together. The sanctity of this taboo was weakened by the many unrecorded white men who had been living with Hawaiian women since the days when foreign ships began to visit the islands. These men not only did not observe the taboo themselves but must have scoffed openly at it. Finally the taboo was broken by the Queen Dowager Kaahumanu, who ate with her son in public. Kaahurnanu brought about the equality of the sexes in Hawai‘i over a century before the suffragette movement started in England.
The major gods that came from Tahiti were worshipped in walled enclosures of stone that were termed heiau instead of marae. A local feature was the three-story tower from which the will of the gods was made known by the high priest. The temples were decorated by large wooden images of the major gods and smaller ones in wood and stone of the lesser gods that were created locally. The temple ceremonies were rich and elaborate and the ritual chants are full of poetic imagery. Hula dances were both secular and religious, and offerings were made to Laka, the deity of the dance. Human sacrifices were made to Ku, the god of war, but human flesh was not eaten.
In the fertile northern islands the Hawaiians became strong and vigorous, elaborating a culture founded on that of central Polynesia. They derived happiness and contentment from their perfect adjustment to environment and the balance maintained between land and sea. Pigs, dogs, and page 266 fowls were the food of the wealthy; fish remained the mainstay of the people. The land provided sweet potatoes and taro to eat with fish, and the raw material for making canoes, nets, and fishlines. Boundaries of districts did not stop at high-water mark but ran out into the sea; for land and sea were complementary to each other and only together could they form a complete setting for human existence.
Legend and tradition grew up about the hills and valleys of Hawai‘i. The urge for deep-sea adventure decreased and interest narrowed to the coastal seas. Voyaging canoes ceased to sail out from the channel of Ke Ala-i-Kahiki (Road-to-Tahiti) and trim their course for the Equator. The long sea voyages of the northern rovers had ended—Hawai‘i had become home.