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Traditions of Oahu

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Traditions of Maunalua

See Also...
  Voyaging Chiefs
Rescues his Brother
Returns to O'ahu

Maunalua is located at the southeast end of O'ahu. Its name means "Two Mountains," referring to Kokohead and Koko Crater. A dry, waterless area, it belonged to the ahupua'a of Waimanalo and served as a fishing area for the people. Makapu'u ("Bulging Eyes") is the headland on the easternmost tip of O'ahu, an observation point for the waters to the east. (Photo by Anne Kapulani Landgraf.) The goddess of this headland is said to have eight eyes:

1. "Ka pali nana uhu ka'i o Makapu'u": "The cliffs for observing the traveling uhu of Makapu'u (A proverb, Pukui, 'Olelo No'eau)

2. Makapu'u is said to be a stone with lumps of black stone on its head, resembling human eyes. Makapu'u had eight bright eyes. (Sterling and Summers 258)

3. The [travelers] drew near Makapu'u Point, and Hi'iaka saw the woman Makapu'u sitting on the beach. They brought their canoe to land on the Ko'olau side of Makapu'u, near Waimanalo. The men were frightened when they saw the many eyes on the head of this supernatural person. (Sterling and Summers 257)

4. This chant speaks of the hungry god...Makapu'u and Maunalua were waterless; food was scarce:

Noho ana Makapu'u i ka lae, (Makapu'u dwells at the headland)
He wahine a ke Akua Pololi, (Wife of the Hungry God)
Pololi, 'ai-ole, make i ka pololi, e-e! (Hungry, without food, starving to death!)

(N.B. Emerson, Pele and Hiiaka­A Myth from Hawaii 87)

5. Makapu'u and Maka'aoa were sisters of the the famous voyaging chief Mo'ikeha and came to Hawai'i with him. (Sites of O'ahu 257)

6. A man named Ha'ikamalama who lived at Hanauma on O'ahu heard [the sounding of the first pahu drum brought to Hawai'i from Tahiti by La'amaikahiki] at sea and was puzzledThe sound was coming from windward, so Ha'ikamalama ran to Makapu'u to see who was sailing by. (Kamakau Tales and Traditions of the People of Old 109).

7. Makapu'u was a female kupua who came to O'ahu with the famous voyaging priest Pa'ao: "Kupua after kupua from the different islands joined the company. One was Makapu'u after whom Makapu'u Point on O'ahu was named; another was her sister 'Ihi'ihi-lauakea, for whom a hill near Koko Head was named; and the little hunchbacked Malei is still to be seen in the shape of a stone near the lighthouse at Makapu'u. (Pukui Folktales of Hawai'i 68).


The Fish Stone Malei
1. Malei, like Makapu'u, was a female kupua. She was a stone set up to attract uhu to the area. Offerings of lipoa (a seaweed) were made to her. (Sterling and Summers 258-259) Malei is also said to be a rock kupua, a relative of Pele, who came to Hawai'i from Kahiki with Pele (Pukui Folktales of Hawai'i 21).

2. 'Ai'ai then went to O'ahu, first landing at Makapu'u, 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. The rock is referred to in a mele 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!

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. ("'Ai'ai" in Hawaiian Fishing Traditions 23)


The Balancing Rock
A pretty woman came from Maui to visit Makapu'u and met the goddess Hi'iaka, but did not guess her identity, believing her to be a resident of that place. One day the stranger expressed the desire for uhu fish. Hi'iaka, willing to oblige a guest, begged a fish from a fisherman and brought it to her. The Maui woman ate the head end of the fish and threw away the other half. Hi'iaka was vexed and, reproaching her for throwing away what she had asked for, turned her into the balancing stone.

Long did her brother on Maui wait for his sister's return. At last he consulted a priest, who told him that his sister had been turned into a stone. If he could reach before dawn the spot where she stood, she would be restored to her own form again but if the sun struck him first, he too would become stone. He sailed in all haste for Makapu'u and had just touched shore below the cliff where his sister's form stood when the dawn broke and he was instantly turned into stone. It is said that a man may safely step over this stone but if a woman steps over it the sea rises and drowns the offender. (Sterling and Summers 258)


Koko Head--Traditions of Pele and Kapo
When Kamapua'a attacked Pele near Kalapana, Kapo [a sister of Pele] sent this kohe ["vagina"] as a lure and [Kamapua'a] left Pele and followed the kohe lele ["flying vagina"] as far as Koko Head on O'ahu, where it rested upon the hill, leaving an impression to this day on the Makapu'u side. Then she withdrew it and hid it in Kalihi. When the Hawaiians dream of a woman without a vagina it is Kapo. Since Kapo does not like this part of the body, unless a medium possessed by Kapo wears a ti leaf protection she is in danger of having this part of her body torn at. (Beckwith Hawaiian Mythology 186)


Hanauma and Kawaihoa--Traditions of Kane and Kanaloa
For background on the god Kane, see "Waiakeakua"; for stories of the two gods in Ko'olauloa, see "Kane and Kanaloa in Ko'olaupoko."

Kane and Kanaloa came from the land of Kuaihelani on a pointed cloud and arrived at Hanauma, O'ahu. Kane was a kindly god, courteous in all his ways. As they traveled about the island, Kanaloa complained of hunger and 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. He 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 Lae'ahi (From "Waiakeakua"; in Green and Pukui, The Legend of Kawelo 112-3).

[Kane and Kanaloa] broke open rocks so that water would gush forth--sweet, flowing water--at Waihe'e and at Kahakuloa on Maui, on Lana'i, at Waiakane in Punahou on Moloka'i and at Kawaihoa on O'ahu. (Kamakau Tales and Traditions of the People of Old 112).

Place Names of Maunalua
Mauka Place Names

Kealakipapa ("The Paved Road," from Kaloko to Makapu'u)

Ke Kula o Kamauwai (Coastal Plain from Kealakipapa to Kamiloiki; a sweet potato growing area)

Kalama (Valley, "The Lama Tree")

Kamehame (Ridge; "The Mehame, or Hame Tree")

Koko (Crater, "Blood"; ancient name for the crater: Kohe-lepelepe, lit. "vagina fringe," or Labia Minor")

Pu'u Ma'i (Highest Point on Koko Crater, 1208 ft.; Ma'i = "Genitals")

Kamiloiki (Valley, "The Little Milo Tree")

Kamilonui (Valley, "The Big Milo Tree")

Kaluanui (Ridge, "The Big Pit")

Haha'ione (Valley, "Broken Sand")

Mauna 'Oahi (Ridge, "Fire-Hurling Mountain")

Ka'alakei (Valley, "Proud Water-Worn Stone")

Makai Place Names

Makapu'u (Point, "Bulging Eyes"; a female kupua; a stone with eyes on it)

Miana (Point at the base of Makapu'u; "Urinal")

Ke Ana o ke Akua Pololi ("The Cave of the Hungry God"; Ke Akua Pololi, The Hungry God was the husband of Makapu'u; a black stone with eight eyes was found in the cave)

Moeau (Point, "Resting Current")

Kipahulu (Hill, "Fetch [from] Exhausted Gardens")

Napai'a (Flat, "The Noisiness")

Kaloko ("The Pond")

Wawamalu (Beach; or Awawamalu, "Shady Gulch")

'Oku'u (Underwater healing stone; "Crouch"; people swam over or crouched next to the stone for good health; the stone is where the sand begins at Sandy Beach toward Halona

Halona ("Lookout")

Hanauma ("Curved Bay")

'Ihi'ihilauakea ("Wide-leafed'Ihi'ihi [a fern]"; Crater, a Wind of Hanauma Bay)

Nono'ula (Crater next to 'Ihi'ihilauakea, "Flushed, Blushed"; "Red from Sunburn")

Kuamo'o [o] Kane; (Hill, highest on Koko Head, 642 feet; "Backbone of Kane"; a place to study the wind; the ridge on which Kane and Kanaloa drank 'awa)

Kawaihoa (Point below Kuamo'o Kane; "The Companion's Water")

Kuapa (Pond, lit. "Fishpond Wall")

Kuli'ou'ou, "Knee Sounding," referring to a Knee Drum; Kuli=Knee; 'Ou'ou=Sound of the drum)


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