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with a concluding Chapter on the History and Ecology of Ka-ʻu by


The cycle of the seasons, the unique climate and natural habitat, and the physiographic and geologic formation of their land, compassed by oceans and the heavens, make up the dynamic Natural Setting of the native cultures of Ka-ʻu. The core of this culture is the family.

The legendary drama of their forebears must be pictured against the background of this natural setting, of which it was a part, and with which the folk identified it and were identified. The ocean, the underworld of vulcanism, the terrain and the heavens all harboured and brought forth elemental Persons embodying natural forces or phenomena and generic forms of life. There were first and foremost the clan of Pele, embodied in terrestrial and associated meteorological phenomena of vulcanism. There was Kua, the ancestral shark-lord, who came from Kahiki, a high-chief and warrior in the oceanʻs depths. There was Ku, from whose voluntary self-immolation for the sake of his children comes the breadfruit tree. Niu-loa-hiki, the “Far-going-coconut,” like Pele and her clan, was an over-seas ancestral link with Kahiki.

Believed to be local in origin were other forebears: that one from whose navel grew a great gourd vine, originating in a certain cave, which spread over and peopled seven districts of Ka-ʻu; another ancestor, identified with a particular hill, who appeared in the form of the caterpillars that feed upon the foliage of sweet potatoes, the staple of life in these districts. And there were countless other things, some of which we would call “inanimate” and others “animate,” all part of the natural scene of everyday life, which were forms assumed by individual spirits ancestral to particular families.

To give some impression of the depth, the variegated patterning of this heritage of mental-emotional projection of thought and feeling that we call “legendary,” it will be necessary briefly to review these living, dynamic so-called “legends,” for there is no stereotyped pattern each is

different, each has its peculiar setting, time and relationship to locale and persons and families.

It is hard for the modern intellectually regid and extroverted mind to sense the subjective relationship of genuine Hawaiians to Nature, visible and invisible. But without in some degree sensing the feeling that underlies this quality of consciousness in those who live intimately in a condition of primary awareness and sensitivity on the plane of subjective identification with Nature, coupled with perceptions and concepts arising therefrom without some comprehension of this quality of spontaneous being-one-with-natural-phenomena which are persons, not things, it is impossible for an alien (be he foreigner or city-hardened native) to understand a true country-Hawaiianʻs sense of dependence and obligation, his ”values,” his discrimination of the real, the good, the beautiful and the true, his feeling of organic and spiritual identification with the ʻaina (home-land) and ʻohana (kin).

If Pele is not real to you, you cannot comprehend the quality of relationship that exists between persons related to and through Pele, and of these persons to the land and phenomena, not “created by” but which are, Pele and her clan. A rosy dawn is not merely a lovely “natural phenomenon”: it is that beloved Person named “The-rosy-glow-of-the-Heavens,” who is “Hiʻiaka-in-the-bosom-of-Pele,” the youngest and most beloved sister of that greater (and loved though awe-inspiring) Person, Pele-honua-mea (Pele-the-sacred-earth-person), whose passions express themselves in the upheavals of vulcanism, whose “family” or “clan” are the terrestrial and meteorological phenomena related to vulcanism and the land created by vulcanism, as actively known in Ka-ʻu. The stories that we are about to review are not archaic “legends” to a true native of Ka-ʻu: they are living, dynamic realities, parts of an orderly and rational philosophy, now obscured and superseded by the new dynamics and the chaotic values of the sugar plantation, with its mechanical and industrial modernism and concomitant ethnic, social, economic, political, religious and other “new ways.” These “new ways” are not a New Order for the country Hawaiian, and never will be: for they have exterminated him. He was engulfed and drowned in the tidal wave of Progress which inundated his land, his folks, his life and his spirit.


The most important kupuna for all ʻohana of Ka-ʻu, greatly loved in spite of her bad temper, was Pele-honua-mea (Pele-the-sacred-earth-person). The Volcano Goddess was also called Wahine-o-ka-Lua (Woman of the Crater) because she made her home in the depths of Hale-maʻu-maʻu and other craters on the slopes of Mauna Loa. To the island of Hawaii she had come by way of Maui where, as recited in the chants of her epic, she formed the vast crater of Hale-a-ka-la (House of the Sun). All extinct craters in these islands are spots where she dug with her staff Paoa, seeking a dry place for her eternal fires. Before coming to Maui she dug on Oahu the craters called Kohe-lepe-lepe (“Koko Crater”), Leahi (“Diamond Head”), Puʻu-o-waina (“Punchbowl”), Alia-paʻakai (“Salt Lake”). To Oahu she had come from Kauai, and to Kauai she had made the migration from Kahiki, accompanied by brothers and sisters and other relatives.


Chief navigator on these voyages was Peleʻs brother Ka-moho-Aliʻi, the King of Sharks. There is a cliff at the Crater of Kilauea (island of Hawaii) named Pali-kapu-o-Ka-moho-Aliʻi. Smoke rolling from Peleʻs lava will blow in every other direction, but never against that cliff: in that direction it blows straight up without touching it. That is because of his kapu; he was her elder and best-loved brother.

Ka-uila-nui-makeha (the-great-flashing-lightning) is another brother. Kane-ʻapua was the youngster (pokiʻi) having a shark body: he succoured the spirits of those lost at sea (ʻapua is a kind of fish basket).

Ka-poha-i-kahi-ola is the brother who makes explosions (poha, burst, in the place, or kahi, of life, ola).

Kukuʻena-i-ke-ahi-hoʻomau-honua (The-burning-hotone-in-the-eternal-fire-in-the-earth), is a younger sister who always prepared Peleʻs ʻawa (beverage brewed from the root of Piper methysticum). She was also the maker of lei or flower garlands.

Kapo-ʻula-kinaʻu was a sister of Pele who came to Hawaii from Kahiki before the migration of Pele and her following. Kapo was a patron of sorcery. She also came via Kauai to Maui, and ultimately settled on Molokai.

Na-maka-o-Kahaʻi, an older sister of Pele, had a violent quarrel with Pele while still in Kahiki.

With Pele came also Peleʻs father Kane-hoa-lani (malefriend-of-Heaven), and her mother Haumea. Kane-hoa-lani is a great headland on Oahuʻs windward coast; Haumea had many bodies, one of which was the low lying breadfruit tree.


The most poetic figure amongst the nature spirits, and perhaps the one most loved, was Peleʻs younger sister, Hiʻiaka. This benign yet powerful being is described with many epithets indicative of her many roles in nature. The great sequence of chants which as a whole made up the cycle of the consecrated dance-ritual of the hula, recounting the drama of Pele and her family, depicts Hiʻiaka as dancer; as voyager seeking the stricken Lohiʻau, Peleʻs beloved slain by her own jealous passion, whom Hiʻiaka revives; as healer and guardian; as spirit of ocean, of cloud forms, of the uplands.

Seen in the heavens was Hiʻiaka-noho-lani (-dweller-in-the sky) who was the same as Hiʻiaka-i-ka-maka-o-ka-ʻopua (-in-the-face-of-the-rainclouds). In righteous anger she could be Hiʻiaka-wawahi-lani (-who-breaks-through-the-heavens), a flash of lightning. As healer she was Hiʻiaka-ika-wai-ola (-in-the-water-of-life), and as beneficent guardian and fosterer, Hiʻiaka-i-ka-poli-i-Pele (-in-the-bosom-of-Pele). In her search for Lohiʻau, this saviouress knew the ordeals of flagging strength, hardship and tribulation. There are, therefore, implications of sympathy for the feeble and distressed in these names: Hiʻiaka-kuli-peʻe (-whose-knees-are-weak) and Hiʻiaka-pokole-waimaka-nui (-little-one-greatly-tearful).

Fishermen were warned of dangers from wind and wave by Hiʻiaka-makole-wawahi-waʻa (-the-red-eyed-who-smashed-canoes), seen in the short red rainbow standing at sea-level and foretelling storm; and also in the bright red-orange coloured fruit of the hala (pandanus), which blooms in the spring when seas run high. This voyager along the seacoasts was also described as Hiʻiaka-i-ka-ʻale-ʻi (-in-the-running-billows) Hiʻiaka-i-ka-ʻale-moe (-in-the-low-billows), Hiʻiaka-i-ka-ʻale-kua-loloa (-in-the-long-backed-billows), Hiʻiaka-i-ka-ʻale-hakoʻikoʻi (-in - the - agitated

billows), Hiʻiaka-i-ke-au-miki (-in-the-receding-current), Hiʻiaka-i-ke-au-ka (-in-the-pushing-current), Hiʻiaka-ʻauʻauka (-the-sea-bather), and Hiʻiaka-noho-lae (-dweller-of-the-capes).

In the uplands this spirit was seen in the lovely lehua pompoms of the forests bordering the volcano, as Hiʻiaka-i-ka-lihilihi-o-ka-lehua (-in-the-fringes-of-the-lehua), which were favourites for lei (garlands) for high chiefs; where-fore she was also Hiʻiaka-lei-ʻia (-the-beloved-garlanded) and Hiʻiaka-lei-lani (-the-heavenly-garland) or Hiʻiaka-lei-mauia (-garland-ever-beloved). Likewise of the uplands she was Hiʻiaka-kolo-pupu (-the-creeper), the same as Hiʻiakakolo-pali (-who-creeps-about-cliffs). Was this perhaps the vine maile (Alyxia olivaeformis), also beloved for garlands? Or might it be, more poetically, the rosy sunlight seen at dawn creeping along the uplands, described in another of her names: Hiʻiaka-i-ka-pua-ʻenaʻena (-in-the-glow-of-the-risingsun—literally, -in-the-burning-blossom)?


The most important male ʻohana in the Pele clan was her uncle, Lono-makua (Maori Rongo-matua). The name means Lono-the-elder. Lono (resounding) probably refers to thunder. It was he who kept the sacred fire of the under-world under his armpit. Vulcanism in Ka-ʻu is associated with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Rain clouds were referred to in chants as “bodies (kino) of Lono.” The sweet potato, whose culture on the semi-arid kula (lower slopes) of the volcanoʻs flanks in Ka-ʻu and Kona was dependent upon the winter rains, was identified with Lono in his hog form as Kamapuaʻa (Hog-child): this earth-god, who plays a dramatic role in the cycle of Pele chants as tempter and taunter of that passionate Lady of the Pit, in humbler moments roots up the earth of the potato patch as the tubers grow, and sometimes, humorously, the humble ʻuʻala were referred to as “droppings” of Kamapuaʻa.

It was Lono-makua to whom offerings of food and other products of the land were presented in the annual Makahiki festival during November, December and January (the months of southerly winds and rains). On the altars at the borders of the districts, where the offerings were collected, Lono was represented by a wooden carving of the head of a

hog—the word for district boundary was ahu-puaʻa (altar-of-the-hog). In the royal procession through the districts, when the harvest tribute was accepted and the land and crops were blessed and released from kapu, the high-chief (Aliʻinui) acted as deputy to Lono, his ancestor, who was represented by a symbol remarkably suggestive of the sail of a square-rigged ship: a tall staff with a small carved figure at the peak, having a cross-piece near the top from which hung a square of white bark-cloth (kapa).

Lono was believed to come annually from Kahiki when the Pleiades first appeared over the horizon at dusk (late October or early November). His landing place was Kealakekua (the-path-of-the-god) in Kona district, westward along the coast from Ka-ʻu. Here was the temple dedicated to this seasonal god “from overseas” (Kahiki). From this locality, at the end of the festival of offering tribute to Lono-makua, a canoe to which was attached a basket containing every variety of food, was set adrift in a southerly direction. This floating altar was called “Lonoʻs canoe.”

By an extraordinary coincidence of time and place, Captain James Cook was led to put in at Kealakekua Bay to provision his ship at the season of Lonoʻs festival. He was received and worshipped as Lono-makua. Subsequent events unhappily disillusioned the Hawaiians, and the great navigator suffered death on the shore called “The path of the god,” where for centuries Lono-makua had been believed to come ashore each year, bringing rain and plenty.


Another lineage, and yet one related to that of Lono-Pele-ma (-ma as a suffix means “-and family”) is that of Ku (Erect). A living descendant today of the old high-chiefly line of Ka-ʻu is Ku-pa-ʻai-keʻe (striker-out-of-flaws), embodied in the adze obliquely hafted for hollowing the canoe hull. Ku of the forest and uplands, where the great trees erect their trunks, patron of canoe builders, was also addressed in chants as Ku-moku-haliʻi (-island-bedecking), Ku-mauna (-of-the-mountains), Ku-ka-ohiʻa-Laka (-of-Lakaʻs-hardwood, meaning Metrosideros, the crimson-blossomed Ohiʻa-lehua., or Maori Pua-rata).

Many were the names of Ku in the uplands. On the kula slopes some planters invoked him as Ku-ka-oʻo (-of-the-

digging-stick), as Ku-kulia (-of-dry-planting), Ku-ke-olowalu (-of-wet-planting). As Ku-ʻula (Red Ku), represented by a stone wrapped in red cloth, he was traditional patron of deep-sea fishing. As Ku-ka-ʻai-moku (-eater-of-islands) he was war-god of the land-hungry chieftains. But for the householder and his family there were intimate beneficent attributes that made precious this ubiquitous forebear. Ku and his wife Hina (Grey, Silvery presumably the Moon anciently), were invoked by a man and his wife as personal guardians and helpers, in all work, in sickness. The ti plant (Dracaena terminalis), protective and purifying, planted near the home, useful in countless domestic ways, was Ku. So likewise was the noni (Morinda citrifolia), whose medicinal uses were many. Of the lineage of Ku also were the coconut, the eel and the sea-cucumber.

It will make more real to our readers the feeling of his worshippers toward Ku if we end this summary reference to him with a resumé of a Hawaiian story of the origin of the tall-growing breadfruit tree of Puna (Pukui, 1933, p. 127). Ku once took to himself as wife a woman of this land. She bore him children. A time of famine came and Ku saw his children starving. “Let us go into the garden,” he said. There, after bidding his wife farewell, he stood on his head (compare with the Maori conception that Kane as forest god stands head down). Slowly he sank into the ground until he disappeared entirely. His devoted wife watched the spot day by day, watering it with her tears. One day a sprout appeared. It grew, became a tree, and bore great fruit—the breadfruit. The women and children ate to their heartsʻ content. Later, when other sprouts shot up they were given to others for planting. This was the gift of Ku to his people.


More distant, more widely “pantheistic,” and more exalted and possibly more ancient, is Kane, the primordial “Male” (kane), who dwells in Eternity (i-ka-po-loa in-the-everlasting-night). He is Ka (ne) -ʻonohi-a-ka-la (-eyeball-of-the-sun), and Ka(ne)-wai-ola (-water-of-life, i.e., sunlight and fresh water in rain or streams, as life-giver and healer). Ka (ne)-huna-moku (or Moku-huna-a-Kane) is the “Hidden-land-of-Kane” to which his worshippers go if

worthy, the land seen in the magnificent, sun-lit, billowy cloud-continents that float by majestically on distant windward horizons in the seasons of the trade-winds. As Kane-hekili, he is lightning, the same as Kanewawahi-lani (-splitter-of-the-sky). Countless are his forms: he is Kane “ in-the-whirlwind,” “ the-great-wind,” “ the-little-wind,” “ the-peaceful-breeze ”; “ in-the-rainbow ” of many types of clouds variously described, “ in-the-heavenly-star,” “in-the-great-outpouring-of-water,” “in-the-little-out-pouring ”; “ of-the-mountain,” “ the-precipice,” “ the-out-cropping-stone.” Erect stones, natural or set up, were termed “stones-of-Kane.” In the sea Kane is coral of many sorts. For the planter he was, as embodied in fresh water for irrigation, ka-wai-ola-a-Kane, water-of-life invoked in taro planting. In Ka-ʻu there still remain the vestiges of a shrine of Kane, near the lands where taro was planted. The family bowl of poi (starch staple made from taro) in the household was sacred to Haloa, who is Kane, an ancestor in the line senior to man, in the genealogical records of the generations born of the Heavens (Wakea, “wide-spread-whiteness or light”) and the Earth (Papa). The bowl of poi, sacred to Haloa, occupied in the Hawaiian household a place not unlike that of the hearth for the Latin and Greek ancestor worshippers, or the sacred fire in the Hindu home. For the healer, popolo (Solarium nigrum), a ubiquitous plant in ancient Hawaii, had many beneficent uses: popolo is sometimes referred to as the foundation (ke-kumu) of Hawaiian therapy; it is one of the embodiments of Kane as healing force.


Kanaloa was lord of ocean and ocean winds, and as such embodied particularly in the octopus and squid. But he had land forms (kino) also, particularly the banana, and certain other plants of similar habit. An interesting group of local legends identified with freshwater sources in various localities of the Hawaiian islands describe Kane and Kanaloa as travelling companions in ancient times, moving about the land and opening springs and water holes for the benefit of men. In these tales Kane and Kanaloa are, like Pele and her “family,” described as coming from “Kahiki.”


The significance of these Persons for aliʻi of old Ka-ʻu and still in our day is, that these names, given and spoken with a sense of potency and prestige, even today perpetuate the sense of the reality and sanctity of these Persons, when borne by living descendants of these lines. Lono and Ku, Pele and Hiʻiaka and many other ʻaumakua (ancestral Persons embodied in Nature) have their namesakes amongst living descendants of their lineage. Sometimes the names are selected and given as a matter of choice. But in many instances such a name or a figurative compound name which describes a particular attribute of an ʻaumakua, is inoa po, a name-out-of-night, a term which refers to the receiving of a name to be given by an elder relative in a dream or vision. A person receiving such a name in childhood and honouring it is believed to be protected and blessed: but if the elder fails to bestow the name, or if it is dishonoured, woe betide both elder and child! Of this we shall say more in a section on the psychic phase of ʻohana. (For considerations relating to this custom see Handy, 1936 and 1940, in the list of references.


Of a somewhat different order of ancestry from these lords of primordial elemental forces are various other more recent legendary beings from whom certain families of Ka-ʻu trace their lineage and who continue to act as ʻaumakua or guardians to their descendants. One such important being was Kua.


Kua, the mano aliʻi (shark chief), described in a local Ka-ʻu mele inoa (name chant) in praise of him as “the red shark, huge and thick-skinned,” came directly to Ka-ʻu shores from “Kahiki” as leader of a great company of sharks, several of his male relatives being his lieutenants. As the Hawaiians of old were versed in symbolic speech, it is our belief that Kua and his company have historical significance, not actually as fish of the deep but as a raiding party of fierce warriors (“sharks”) on war canoes. As the dramatic chant of Kua describes his arrival, there were probably nine single canoes or four double canoes, each under the corn-

mand of a valiant leader whose name remains celebrated in the chant of praise.

One unusual feature of the story is that Kua brought with him his favourite sister, “riding on his back,” a sister having human form, and this sister, marrying a chief of Ka-ʻu, became the ancestress of many of the Ka-ʻu ʻohana. Kua, the shark chief, also became a direct ancestor through mating in spirit form with a descendant of his sister: a son, Kua-opio (Young Kua) otherwise called Pakaiea (meaning a certain green seaweed), and a daughter, were the results of this union, the son having fish form; but of the daughter and her descendants it is said there were no shark-like physical characteristics except rough skin between knee and ankle, called ʻiʻili-a-mano (shark skin). The son is said to have been the progenitor of more than one mano-kanaka (shark-man) in his line, most famous being Kalani, recognized by the inhabitants of Ka-ʻu as part shark and part human. This term mano-kanaka was used by Ka-ʻu folk to designate sharks who were related to them by blood, and such people described themselves as “na naamo i ka halo o Kua” (children of the bosom of Kua), having the blood of Kua flowing in their veins.

To these Ka-ʻu ʻohana Kua was and is a guardian and an omen of good. His territory stretches along the coast of Ka-ʻu from ʻAhukini to ʻApua, and there were places of worship dedicated to him at Kalae, Wai-ka-puna, Pa-ʻula-kai and Naʻalehu. He is known also as Ka-wohi-ku-i-ka-moana (the chief-who-stands-guard-in-the-ocean), and there are many stories of specific warnings and rescues attributed to this great red shark. His shark son Kua-opio, or Pakaiea, has also been recognized as a benefactor through the years. The latter is recognizable by his deep brown skin and green markings, the patterning of the green limu pakaiea (sea-weed) in which he was wrapped at birth by his human mother and carried to his father Kua in the sea.

Within the memory of a living descendant this shark Pakaiea has been seen accepting first offering of fish from the fishing spear of an elder kinsman who told her this story of his brotherʻs rescue at sea. His canoe broken by a storm, the brother was near exhaustion on his long swim homeward, when a body rose beneath him and carried him to shore. It was the shark Pakaiea. The grateful man rewarded him

with banana and ʻawa and the two became lifelong friends, aiding each other in fishing and sharing food. At the manʻs death, Pakaiea continued in the guardianship over the younger brother who in old age pointed out the family benefactor to the child.

Because of the shark relationship, the colour red (Kuaʻs colour), the pakaiea seaweed, and sharkʻs flesh of any kind are all kapu (forbidden) to all natives of Ka-ʻu who claim Kua or his sister as progenitor.


Another Ka-ʻu ʻaumakua was Kumuhea, a son of Ku, who came from “Kahiki” first to Molokai and thence to Ka-ʻu on the island of Hawaiʻi. He fell in love with a girl there who returned his affection, and when he became her husband he took her to the top of a hill, now called Puʻu-Enuhe (Caterpillar Hill) to make their home. He had never visited her or her relatives except at night, and now after marriage he always vanished in the daytime, returning at evening bringing sweet-potato greens for their provender. An exclusive diet of greens soon reduced his wife to skin and bones, and when her brothers came to see her they were shocked at her appearance and went to a relative who was a kahuna to discuss the matter. It was revealed to the kahuna that the young man was a kupua (nature spirit) whose other form was the caterpillar that feeds on sweet-potato foliage. The God Ku, whose son it was, was called upon for help, and Ku came and put an end to his sonʻs assuming human form.

Nevertheless Ka-ʻu remained the permanent home of Kurnuhea, and because of the marriage relationship that had existed no native of the place would deliberately destroy a caterpillar. It is still remembered, from the childhood of living persons, that precautions were taken to avoid stepping on them even when the roads were covered with them during unusual and pestilential visitations. When natives planted their sweet potatoes they called upon Kumuhea to help himself to the leaves but not destroy the plants or harm the tubers, and the plants were left unharmed; but should newcomers or careless natives set about to kill off the “pests,” more and more would appear until his vines would be utterly consumed. Kumuhea could be a friend, but he could also be a bitter enemy.

Another form which Kumuhea assumed was the loli (Holothuria), or sea-cucumber, a soft-bodied large slug found under stones near shore, plentiful in Ka-ʻu waters. Though liked and eaten freely by most natives of Hawaiʻi, they were kapu to those ʻohana of Ka-ʻu for whom Kumuhea was an ʻaumakua. Instances are cited of young folk who have scoffed at the warning of the elders against this kapu food as “deadly poisonous” to the family, and who have sickened and died after eating loli in a spirit of reckless defiance. It is said that the whole body swells painfully, until death releases the sufferer.

Another story like the above in which the caterpillar and sea-cucumber are forms of the same kupua, casts sea-cucumber and eel as companions who come up out of the sea at nightfall and, turning into handsome men, make love to two girls who have come to the beach to bathe. (Pukui, 1933.)

Bitter Gourd.

Among the distant legendary ancestors of one Ka-ʻu ʻohana were twin sisters who were said to have been born from a bitter gourd (ipu-ʻawa-ʻawa) that grew out of their dead motherʻs navel. A young couple, because of parental disapproval of their marriage, eloped and made their home on Kamaoʻa plain. Many who loved them followed, and thus began the peopling of that plain. When the young wife was about to become a mother she died and was borne to a cave where she was lovingly laid to rest. Unknown to her people, a vine sprouted from her navel and grew very rapidly. It travelled far, crossing seven ahupuaʻa (land sections) before it fruited, back of a fishermanʻs home, close to the boundary between Ka-ʻu and Kona. The fisherman was pleased at finding such a fine gourd growing beside his house, and would frequently thump and pinch it to see if it was ready to pick. The spirit of the dead woman visited her husband in a dream and complained of soreness from being thumped and pinched. When the husband wakened he went to look at her body and found the vine growing out of her navel. This vine he traced to its fruiting end beside the fishermanʻs house. An argument ensued over the ownership of the gourd, which was settled by establishing the vineʻs source, and the husband took the gourd home, where he kept it carefully on a bundle of fine kapa. In time the gourd cracked

open and out fell two seeds which developed into identical twin girls, who became famous in later life as robust and powerful fighters as well as prolific mothers.

Because of the gourd relationship, it became kapu amongst this large ʻohana of Kamaoʻa plain to burn any fragment of gourd, since “to burn the bones of an ancestor” was an insult. Midwives placed a gourd at the head of a woman in difficult labour, with a request for ancestral help in delivering the child.

This story has an interesting symbolism. The gourd is a symbol of Lono, god of agriculture. As a very close relative was often referred to as oneʻs “navel,” this, we believe, implied that the people of Kamaoʻa plain claimed very close relationship, through his priesthood, to Lono. The miraculous growth of the vine refers to the rapid spread of the population in this area, extending across seven ahupuaʻa from Kamaoʻa to the Kona boundary, and so arose the saying of that ʻohana: “We are the people of the seven ahupu.aʻa,” referring to their descent from the woman out of whose navel the gourd vine grew. It is also noted that since the birth of the gourd sisters, twins have been a common occurrence from generation to generation in this ʻohana.

Psychic Aspect of Community Relationship.

The psychic phase of relationship of ʻohana to ʻaumakua (ancestral forbears who concern themselves with nature and man) and kupua (nature spirits that choose at will human, animal and vegetable forms as means of physical incarnation) will be described in a subsequent section. It is necessary to comprehend this psychic phase, against the background of Hawaiian religious experience, beliefs, practices and concepts, if family relationships, duties, kapu and ethical principles are to be understood. No one can comprehend the so-called “lore” and “beliefs” relating to ʻaumakua and kupua without knowing a great deal about the aspects and features of the locale and natural environment with which ʻaumakua and kupua are identified. Equally, persons and ʻohana in their human relationships can be comprehended only in the context of natural setting and “lore” in terms of the psychic relations subsisting between Nature and its phenomena, ancestral and nature spirits, and native mankind in old Ka-ʻu.

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