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Chief of Puna Keali'ikuku

Kii: Big Island Guide

Title: Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes

by: W. D. Westervelt




Pg. 33-34

This moolelo was passed down by a Kona alii named Kanuha. This event was said to have happened in the 1600's on the island of Hawaii.

Kealiikuku was a chief of Puna, Hawaii who loved his lands in the fragrant hala groves of Puna. boasting in chant

"Beautiful Puna! Clear and beautiful, Like a mat spread out. Shining like sunshine Edged by the forest of Mali'o (Kali'u).

Kii: Ku'ialuaopuna

Wanting to see the island of O'ahu, he sailed there ,

always boastingthat nothing could be compared with Puna and its sweet-scented trees and vines.

He met a prophet of Pele, Kane-a-ka-lau, whose home was on the island Kauai. The prophet asked Ke-lii-kuku about his home land. The chief was glad of an opportunity to boast.

The chief said: “I am Ke-lii-kuku of Puna. My country is charming. Abundance is found there. Rich sandy plains are there, where everything grows wonderfully.”

The prophet ridiculed him, saying: “Return to your beautiful country. You will find it desolate. Pele has made it a heap of ruins. The trees have descended from the mountains to the sea. The ohia and puhala are on the shore. The houses of your people are burned. Your land is unproductive. You have no people. You cannot live in your country any more.”

The chief was angry and yet was frightened, so he told the prophet that he would go back to his own land and see if that word were true or false. If false, he would return and kill the prophet for speaking in contempt of his beautiful land. Swiftly the oarsmen and the mat sails took the chief back to his island. As he came around the eastern side of Hawaii he landed and climbed to the highest point from which he could have a glimpse of his loved Puna. There in the distance it lay under heavy clouds of smoke covering all the land. When the winds lifted the clouds, rolling them away, he saw that all his fertile plain was black with lava, still burning and pouring out constantly volumes of dense smoke. The remnants of forests were also covered with clouds of smoke through which darted the flashing flames which climbed to the tops of the tallest trees.

Pele had heard the boasting chief and had shown that no land around her pit of fire was secure against her will. Ke-lii-kuku caught a long vine, hurled it over a tree, and hung himself.

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