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Traditions of Oahu

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Kaulu, Part 1

See Also...
  Voyaging Chiefs
Returns to O'ahu

Rescues His Brother Kaeha
Kuka'ohi'alaka was the father and Hinaulu'ohi'a was the mother of three boys. Kaeha was the first-born, Kamano the second, and Kaulu the last-born.(a) Kailua in K'oolaupoko was their birthplace. Kaeha, the oldest, loved and cared for Kaulu; Kamano hated and mistreated Kaulu. Kaulu stayed in his mother's womb five years before he was born because he heard Kamano threaten to kill the next born child. When Kaeha heard this, he asked Kamano: "Why should you kill the next child?" When Kaulu heard Kaeha's reply, he said to himself: "You will save me at birth, and I will save you later on."

Kaulu was born in the form of a piece of rope. Kamano saw that the newborn did not have a human form and said: "If you had a human body, I would kill you."

Kaeha took up the piece of rope and put it up on a shelf, where it remained unnoticed for a month. Kaeha in the meantime was carried off by akua (mischievous spirits) to a place in the sky called Lewanu'u (where birds fly) and Lewalani (where the stars are). The gods Kane and Kanaloa lived there.(b)

Kaulu remained on the shelf until his body took on human form. When he awoke, he looked around the inside of the house and saw that his oldest brother Kaeha was missing. He went out of the house and looked up in the sky. He saw his brother had been carried away by the akua to Lewanu'u and Lewalani, so Kaulu followed after him.

Coming to where the heavy surf was beating on the shore, Kaulu asked: "E big surf, are you strong?"

The surf replied: "Yes."

Kaulu asked: "How strong?"

"I strike from above, and when I catch someone, I toss him about," said the surf.

Eight waves then struck Kaulu, but he remained standing.

Kaulu then called to his hands, "E Hakaukahi, my right hand, and Limapaihala, my left hand."(c)

"What is it?" replied his two hands.

"Strike below, strike above."

Kaulu then broke the surf into small waves, and thus the surf remains till today.

He then continued on his way until he met other spirits (kupu), the small and large ocean swells. He said to them: "You only make the ocean white with foam, you aren't very strong."

The waves replied: "We are strong and brave."

A fight began and Kaulu smashed the ocean swells; thus, they are small today.

After this he continued on his way until he met Ku'ilioloa, a giant dog that guarded the land and the sea. Another battle was fought in which Ku'ilioloa was torn to pieces, so dogs are small today.(d)

When Kaulu arrived in the land where his brother was living, he approached the house and hid himself in the leaves of a loulu palm tree. At dusk that evening, the akua told Kaeha: "Let's prepare some 'awa." They got some 'awa and prepared it to be pounded. After Kaeha pounded a sufficient quantity, he went outside to cool himself. Kaulu came out of his hiding place and met his brother. Kaeha asked: "Who is this little fellow?"

"I'm Kaulu, your youngest brother, whom you placed on the shelf. I love you, so I came to look for you."

Kaeha then said:"Let's go and drink 'awa with the akua."

Kaulu said: "Yes, tell the akua to drink their 'awa first, and you will take yours after them. But before you drink yours, offer a little to me as your god by saying: 'Here is our 'awa.' Then I'll shout: 'Drink it, but let me have the intoxicating portion.'"

After this conversation, Kaulu returned to hide in the palm leaves, while Kaeha returned to the house to join the akua in 'awa-drinking. When Kaeha entered the house, the akua said to him: "Drink your 'awa first."

Kaeha replied: "No, you drink yours first."

After the akua then drank theirs up, Kaeha said to the akua: "Now be quiet while I drink my 'awa." Kaeha then took his cup of 'awa and offered up a drink to Kaulu: "Here is our 'awa."

Kaulu shouted out from the palm tree, "Drink it, but let me have the intoxicating portion."

When the akua heard this, they began pinching one another and said: "What a wonderfully loud-voiced god you have, Kaeha!"

Because of this trick played by Kaeha and Kaulu, Kane and Kanaloa were puzzled, so they sent Kolea (golden plover) and his mate to fly up to Makali'i to inquire about the loud-voiced god of Kaeha. When Kolea and his mate arrived, Makali'i asked them: "What brings you two here?"

"We've been sent by Kane and Kanaloa to ask you about the loud-voiced god that calls out from the darkness."

Makali'i replied: "That's Kaulu, the youngest brother of Kaeha. He is all-powerful and strong, and he's hiding in the palm leaves."

When Kolea and his mate reported to Kane and Kanaloa what Makali'i had told them, the akua went and searched for Kaulu in the palm leaves, but couldn't find him.

The akua continued to get intoxicated on 'awa every night. One night Kaulu got some large stones and placed them where the akua slept at night. In the middle of the night the akua woke up and bumped their heads against the stones.

The akua were angry and tried to find fault with Kaeha so they could condemn him to death. One day they said to Kaeha: "You must find your own food now, as you've eaten all of ours." So Kaeha was forced to look for his own food.

When Kaulu saw Kaeha looking for food, he took Kaeha with him and flew to Manowaikeoo, a land owned by Kane and Kanaloa where all the food of the akua was raised. The place was guarded by two pairs of men--Uweliki and Uweleka and Maalaka and Maalaki. Maalaka and Maalaki saw Kaulu and Kaeha coming, so they dug a deep, steep trench and Kaulu and Kaeha fell into it. When Kaulu saw that they were in trouble, he called out:

E Kaulu e, dig down;
E Kaulu e, stretch out;
E Kaulu e, double up.
Four singles, Four doubles.

Kaulu got out of the trench and grabbed Maalaka and Maalaki, saying: "I'm going to kill you two."

They answered: "If we're killed, no one will guard this land." Kaulu let them go. He and Kaeha continued on their way until they found Uweleki and Uweleka on the opposite side of the land. These two guards asked: "What brings you two here?"

Kaulu replied: "The bounty of this land."

The guards saw that Kaulu was a very small boy. They didn't think he could carry very much, so they allowed Kaulu to have all he wanted. Kaulu took all he could find and ate up all the things he could lay his hands on: the vegetables, the fish, the pigs, the chickens, everything that was growing, everything that had been planted. After Kaulu took all that he could find, he flew up and blocked the sun, causing darkness to come over the land. The two guards begged Kaulu to give them back some of the food so that they could raise more. He gave them one taro top, one potato leaf, two hogs, two chickens and so on.

Kaulu and Kaeha returned to Kane and Kanaloa and offered them all the food. The two gods were surprised by all this food, which was just like the bounty of Manowaikeoo. They sent Kolea and his mate to Makali'i to ask him where all these good things came from. Makali'i told them that Kaulu had invaded Manowaikeoo and stolen the food. The messengers reported to Kane and Kanaloa what Makali'i said.(e)

The akua were very angry with Kaulu and Kaeha, so they enticed Kaulu to go surf-riding. When the two brothers arrived where the surf was breaking, the akua called on all the sharks to capture Kaeha and offer him as sacrifice to their king, Kukamaulunuiakea. This was a huge shark; no one could see his whole body. When his mouth was opened, the top jaw reached the sky while the bottom jaw touched the bottom of the sea; his body was entirely covered with coral.(f)

As Kaeha came near the shark, he was swallowed whole and carried away. When Kaulu discovered his brother was missing, he asked the akua where his brother had gone. They replied they didn't know. Kaulu suspected he had been killed. He went to the seashore, stooped down and drank up the sea, so that all the fish were stranded on the dry bottom. Kaulu then began to search for his brother in all the different kinds of fish--the mano (common shark), the niuhi (tiger shark), the lalakea (white-finned shark), and the hihimanu (stingray). He searched the four corners of the sea, but couldn't find his brother, so he flew up to Makali'i to ask about the whereabouts of Kaeha. He found the god lying on his back, face up, and pinched him near the groin, saying: "You're dead, Makali'i, unless you tell me where my brother is."

Makali'i replied: "Your brother has been swallowed by a shark."

"Which shark?"

While Kaulu questioned Makali'i, Ko'ele'ele ("Crack of Thunder"), a younger brother of Makali'i, came with a large rock called 'Ikuwa ("Noisy, thunderous"), which was larger than the island of Maui.(g) Ko'ele'ele was full of wrath and very strong. He heaved the rock above Kaulu, but Kaulu caught it with his poi finger and held it up, saying: "'Ea, your rock is harmless."

When Ko'ele'ele saw this, he ran away.

Kaulu then asked of Makali'i: "Tell me which shark swallowed my brother and also where the shark lives."

Makali'i looked down, but he was unable to see anything below, so he chewed some kukui nuts and blew the oily substance over the atmosphere beneath them [which caused it to become clear]. He saw the shark that had swallowed Kaeha and pointed it out to Kaulu: "It's the one overgrown with coral."

Kaulu went and asked the shark: "Have you seen my brother?"

Kukamaulunuiakea, the king of the sharks, replied, "I've swallowed him; he's now inside me turning into shit."

Kaulu asked the shark: "Are you strong?"

"Yes, my upper jaw reaches the sky and my lower jaw touches the bottom of the sea."

Kukamaulunuiakea then opened its mouth to show off. Kaulu propped open the mouth with a stick and called for his brother to come out. Kaeha came out. His hair had all fallen off, making him bald. Then Kaulu killed Kukamaulunuiakea, and shark's spirit flew up to heaven and turned into Ka I'a ("The Fish," or Milky Way).

Kaulu and Kaeha returned to shore, Kaeha in front and Kaulu behind. Kaulu vomited out the sea water. Because of this, sea water became salty, and remains so till today.(h)

When the akua saw Kaulu and Kaeha returning, they said to themselves: "Kaeha has survived."

After this the akua again tried to kill Kaeha by inviting him to go and play on a swing (lele koali). They led him to a place where a swing was rigged up, and told him: "You take the first ride; we'll toss you about on the vine."(i)

Then Kaulu arrived and said to the akua: "'Ea, why don't all of you ride the swing together first; I'll pull the rope for you. Where I come from, one person remains above on the branch and pulls the swing for those below. It's fun!"

Kaulu climbed above, and after all the akua got on the swing, he cut the rope and they fell to their deaths.

The remaining akua tried one last trick to get rid of Kaeha. They invited him to go rod-fishing with them. On this fishing excursion they killed Kaeha and hid him in the shell of an 'opihi (limpet)­the kind that clings tightly to smooth boulders. Missing Kaeha again, Kaulu went in search of him. He found him in the 'opihi, but he couldn't pry the 'opihi off the rock, so he pissed on the 'opihi, and released Kaeha. His urine caused all the 'opihi of this kind to become bitter ('awa'awa) to this day; it is called 'opihi 'awa. This 'opihi, which is found clinging to the rocks at low tide, is also called "kukae" ("shit").

(To Part 2. Kaulu Returns to O'ahu.)

"Kaulu" in Hawaiian and English is found in Fornander, Vol. IV, (522-533; referred to as Version 1 in the following notes) and in Vol. V (364-371; referred to as Version 2 in the following notes). Kamakau provides a chant about a voyaging chief named Kaulu, also from Kailua, O'ahu, and perhaps the same person as the hero of this story: "It is said that he traveled throughout Kahiki, saw all the kingdoms of the world, and saw the whirlpool Manawaikaio'o. It was he who brought the edible dirt, lepo 'ai, to Kawainui in Kailua, O'ahu." (Tales and Traditions of the People of Old, 92-3).

(a) Kuka'ohi'alaka and Hinaulu'ohi'a are gods of the forest, associated with the 'ohi'a tree. "Kaulu" means "to grow, to increase, to spread, to protect," all of which are properties of this protective fertility god. When the gods refuse to give Kaulu more food, he raids the garden of the gods and takes all that he wants.

(b) In Version 2, Kaulu's brother is named Kaholeha; Kane and Kanaloa take him to the island of Kuaihelani against his will.

(c) In Version 2, Kaulu's right hand is named Limakaukahi.

(d) In Version 2, Kaulu encounters other enemies during a voyage to the land of Kuaihelani--Keaumiki and Keauka (ingoing and outgoing currents) as well as some ghosts.

(e) Makali'i is a name of a month at the end of the year and the name of a cluster of stars, the Pleiades, which appears in the east at sunset at the end of the year, when the makahiki, or harvest festival began in ancient Hawai'i. Makali'i is also the name of a stingy farmer who was noted for gathering up all the food plants in a net and keeping them from human beings, suggesting allegorically the end of the year when plants are no longer producing fruits and vegetables. Kaulu, takes food from the garden of the gods, which is always productive.

(f) In version 2, the name of the shark is Kalake'enuiakane.

(g) 'Ikuwa ("Noisy, thunderous") is the name of a lunar month at the end of the year.

(h) Version 2: "When they were ready to come away, Kaulu said to his brother: 'You go on ahead, I will follow behind.' Kaulu then urinated and the sea was restored to its former condition. But it was bitter and has smelled bad to this day; it was not so before."

(i) The Hawaiian swing was a single rope, usually a cord of twisted koali (morning glory vine). The name of the game "lele koali" means "swinging vine." The word "ka," translated here as "toss," also means "murder."


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