Charlotte Hapai.

Legends of the Wailuku : as told by old Hawaiians online

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that Maui fashion a large kite. He, Laamaomao, would see to it that a
suitable wind be forthcoming and excitement sufficient to break the
dull monotony of too peaceful days.

So Maui set about the construction of an enormous kite. His mother,
the goddess Hina, made for him a beautiful and strong tapa, and
twisted fibres of the olona into a stout cord. From the rich red wood
of the koa expert and willing hands put together a graceful frame, and
in due time the big plaything was ready. Laamaomao, having fathered
the idea, manifested a keen interest in the proceedings and had his
windpots in readiness for the initial flight.

Calling Ipuiki, smaller of his two windpots, into action, Laamaomao
directed a steady, gentle breeze up the gorge against the breast of
the great kite, cautioning those who held it to be in readiness to let
go at the proper moment and reminding Maui to have a care lest the
olona cord slip through his hands.

Gracefully the birdlike thing rose into the brilliant turquoise
sky - that same sky which today so enchants the malihini - and as it
tugged at the line, dipped, rose again and circled about, the thrill
of it came down the cord to Maui's hands and his delight knew no

Often in the quiet days that followed did Maui amuse himself with the
big kite. As he grew more familiar with its handling the impetuous
demi-god would ask Laamaomao for winds from Ipunui and glory in the
tussle his kite gave him when buffeted by these stronger blasts - even
though wise old Laamaomao was careful to moderate their power.

Sometimes Maui would tire of his sport and, drawing its cord through a
round hole in a rock which lay in the center of a small lake near the
wind caves, would leave his kite to its own devices while he slept.

[Illustration: Drawn by Will Herwig. Paradise Eng.

Old Laamaomao, the Wind God, Admitted That Times Were Dull.]

On one such occasion Laamaomao, having received an order for a great
storm, forgot all about Maui's kite and turned loose his most powerful
wind from Ipunui. All night long it howled through the creaking trees,
driving the rain before it in lashing sheets. Stout as it was, the
olona cord with which Maui's big kite was moored could not long
withstand the strain and finally parted, leaving the kite to the mercy
of the winds. Tossed madly about in the storm, it was carried far
across the flank of Mauna Loa and dropped into the sea off the shore
of Kau.

Now Puuanuhe, the much-dreaded lizard-woman, made her home on the
shores of the Kau desert, and to her ears had come the wonderful story
of Maui's kite, fanning an already hot jealousy of the young demi-god
and his doings. Puuanuhe was the only creature of those days who had
fiery red hair, and her temper was none the less caloric.

So when she saw this strange object floating in the water near her
home on the morning after the storm she recognized it as Maui's kite.
Chuckling in vicious satisfaction at this chance opportunity to make
trouble for the handsome son of Hina, Puuanuhe hid the kite in the
rough hills back of Hilea.

Great was Maui's surprise and consternation when he found his kite
gone. He at once set out in search of it. Days passed without trace of
it, but one day news came to him that Puuanuhe had been seen with a
large kite. He knew it must be his, as there was none other so big.

Arriving at Hilea he discovered the hideous red-headed lizard-woman,
who admitted she had found his kite, but refused to enlighten him as
to its whereabouts. This same creature had lured many a poor fisherman
to death on the rocky coast of Kau, and Maui thought it high time to
put an end to such a pest, so he killed her.

Once more he took up his search for his beloved kite and soon found it
cleverly hidden in the hills. Ironically he named the spot Puuanuhe,
and returning home with his precious toy he fastened it securely to
its moorings again.

Even today you can see the immense kite, now turned to stone, just as
Maui hauled it in for the last time and left it. It is seventy-five
feet long and about forty-five feet wide, narrowing to eighteen feet
at one end. At the narrow end is a crystal-clear lake, very deep and
smooth as glass. In its center is a large, round stone projecting
above the surface with a two-inch aperture in the middle where Maui
used to make his kite string fast.

Near this lake are the two windpots, Ipunui and Ipuiki, and a little
way below are three very distinct foot-prints, each fifteen inches
long, showing where Maui stood while flying his great kite.


Maui, the powerful young demi-god who dwelt with his mother, the
goddess Hina, in the great cave behind Rainbow Falls, had succeeded in
so many hazardous undertakings, and had the welfare of his people so
much at heart, that he resolved upon what was to be his greatest deed
of prowess and beneficence.

Now Maui had a magic fish-hook which he cleverly used while fishing
with his brothers. Maui was very sly and quick, but he was never a
good fisherman. He would sit in the canoe and drag his hook through
the water, catching no fish himself but snagging those his brothers
caught and laughing merrily at their bewildered expressions when they
pulled in their lines and found nothing.

They distrusted Maui, for he would never let them see his hook, yet
they knew it was shaped differently from theirs. It was more
complicated and had a double barb, while the common fish-hook had but
one. But his brothers could never catch him at his tricks.

At last they no longer allowed him to accompany them on their fishing
trips, as he took all the fish and honors, and they all knew - Maui
included - that he did not deserve them. So Maui would go alone to the
bay, but the hook remained idle in the bottom of his magic canoe
which, as related in the legend of Kuna, he drove from the shores of
the Island of Maui to the mouth of the Wailuku with two sweeps of his

While drifting about Maui watched some of his people who were not
blessed with magic canoes, and considered the hard paddling required
to send them through the water.

One day as he sat in his canoe watching another pass by, evidently on
its way to a neighboring island, the demi-god wondered if it might not
make things easier to have all the islands joined together, so people
could travel to any part of the kingdom without the laborious canoe

Calling a meeting of Hawaii's chiefs and strong men Maui informed them
of a plan to draw all the islands together. He told them he would need
their help in pulling the islands, but no matter how hard or how long
they pulled they must never look back to see how much was being
accomplished until the islands were firmly joined together.

The men solemnly promised to obey Maui and at once proceeded to their
new task. The island now known as Maui was selected for the first
attempt. Maui fastened his magic fish-hook into that part of the land
nearest Hawaii, and at his command the strong men and chiefs paddled
with all their might. Slowly the island moved behind them.

No one dared look around, though all were burning with curiosity to
see the result of their struggles. Long and steadily they paddled
until the two islands were only a few feet apart. Then one of the
chiefs could no longer control his curiosity and looked around.

In an instant the charm was broken. The island slid back through the
sea to its former position in spite of all that Maui, chiefs and
strong men could do to stop it. Only a small piece of land was
left - that in which the fish-hook was still deeply imbedded. Today
that bit of land is covered with lauhala trees and coconut palms, and
is known as Coconut Island.

So great was Maui's disappointment at this his first failure in any
important enterprise that he would not try again. He said his
fish-hook had lost its charm and sorrowfully he took it away with him
in his canoe. He carried it up the Wailuku River to his home behind
Rainbow Falls, where he grieved for many days over the unsuccessful
attempt. Later, having no more use for the hook, he carried it away
from the cave and threw it into the forest near his home, where it lay
undisturbed until the haole came.

To those early settlers the magic fish-hook of Maui was of less
interest as such than as material for masonry, and not a piece of it
remains. At the forks of the Piihonua-Kaumana road one may, however,
see the peculiar-shaped depression where it lay for so long before
civilization's vanguard swept the tangled jungle of Maui's time from
its hiding-place.

[Illustration: Drawn by Will Herwig. Paradise Eng.

But the Strange Woman Smiled and Told Them to Uncover the Imu.]


Just mauka of the Hilo Boarding School are three large, rounded hills
which, centuries ago, were mud craters. Covered with the green of
rustling cane-tops, at a distance they appear to be soft, grassy
mounds. Many a tourist, gazing from the deck of an incoming ship, has
yearned to "stroll over those smooth, rolling hills," only to find the
pastime quite impossible on nearer view, which revealed the "velvety
grass" as lusty sugar cane stalks ten to fifteen feet high and closely

But now the last crop of cane has been harvested from these graceful
mounds and their slopes are being prepared to receive the
dwelling-houses of any who choose - and can afford - to live in the
rarified atmosphere of romance that hangs about this Hawaiian Olympus.

Nor is the term Olympus as applied to these hills a redundant flight
of fancy. Long ago - many, many years before the haole came to plant
his sugar cane in their deep, rich soil - these hills were the homes of
several beautiful goddesses.

The makai and largest hill, called Halai, was the home of Hina Keahi,
eldest daughter of the goddess Hina, who lived at Waianuenue - the cave
behind Rainbow Falls in the Wailuku River - and sister of Maui the
demi-god. To Hina Keahi was given power over fire.

In many ways this young goddess aided her people, bestowing upon them
the blessing of protection from fire while teaching them many ways in
which to use it. The remarkable fact has often been noted, by the way,
that although the Hawaiians always lived in grass houses, seldom was
one known to be destroyed by fire. Hina Keahi was well beloved by her
people and her lightest commands were obeyed meticulously.

Food had always been plentiful in Hawaii. The people cultivated their
fields, which yielded bountifully. But one time the crops failed - grew
smaller and smaller - and began to shrivel up and die. Soon a famine
spread over the land. Crops were allowed to wholly perish because none
was strong enough to tend them.

Hina Keahi saw that unless something was done at once her beloved
followers would all die. Calling them about her she commanded that an
immense imu be dug in the top of Halai Hill. "Prepare a place for each
kind of food as though you were ready to fill the imu, then bring as
much firewood as you can," she ordered.

The starving people summoned new strength at this promise and worked
for many days preparing the enormous imu. Knowing a human sacrifice
would be offered as the only possible result of their labors, they
lived in fear and wondered who would be chosen. Still, they never once
thought of deserting their work and finally everything was in

"Fill the imu with wood and heat it," commanded Hina.

As soon as this was done she turned to the wondering people and said:
"Listen to what I tell you, and follow my instructions. It is the only
way you can be saved from starvation. I will step into the imu and you
must quickly cover me with earth. Do not stop throwing earth over me
until the last puff of smoke disappears. In three days a woman will
appear at the edge of the imu and tell you what to do."

Bidding them farewell, Hina Keahi stepped quickly into the red-hot
imu. Immediately a dense white cloud of smoke surrounded and concealed
her. For a moment the people stood transfixed at the sight; but
remembering instructions they at once began covering the imu with

Followed then three long days of waiting fraught with mingled hopeful
expectancy and anxiety for their goddess. On the third day everyone
repaired to the edge of the imu and awaited the appearance of the
woman of whom Hina Keahi had spoken.

In the meantime Hina Keahi had not remained in the imu for long. The
fire had not harmed her, for she had complete power over it. Going
underground she made her way toward the sea, coming to the surface of
the earth somewhere near the spot on which the Hilo Boarding School
stands today. The place was marked by a bubbling spring.

Once more she disappeared underground and again came to the surface,
creating another spring near the present location of the Hilo Hotel. A
third time the goddess followed her subterranean route, coming up in a
third spring at the place now occupied by the American Factors' lumber
yard. Refreshing herself in the clear waters, she started back to her
home, this time traveling above ground.

Thus on the third day from the disappearance of Hina Keahi those
gathered about the imu saw a strange woman approaching from the
direction of the sea. As she drew near they noticed a striking
resemblance to their own goddess, yet she, they knew, was buried in
the imu. In fear they drew away, but the strange woman smiled and told
them to uncover the imu.

Reluctantly they set to work, dreading the sight which all had in
mind. But when the imu was uncovered they found it filled with cooked
food - enough to supply their needs until the rains came and new crops
could be grown and harvested. In gratitude they turned to thank the
strange woman, but she had vanished.

And to this day one may see the immense imu in the top of Halai Hill,
now overgrown with a thicket of feathery bamboo, which the people left
open in memory of their timely deliverance.


Hina Kuluua was the second daughter of the goddess Hina, who lived
behind Rainbow Falls. Hina Keahi, the elder sister, had received the
best of the gifts which their mother could bestow - power over fire and
ownership of the largest of the Halai hills. Known as the goddess of
fire, Hina Keahi was indeed very powerful and one time gave
spectacular evidence of it in saving her people from starvation, as
told in the legend, Hina Keahi.

Naturally everyone looked upon her thereafter as the most wonderful
goddess in the Islands. Even her sister's little band of followers did
not refrain from open admiration of the beautiful fire goddess.

This made Hina Kuluua exceedingly angry. Her jealousy overwhelmed her;
she could not bear to let her sister claim so much glory, and she have
none at all.

It was not long after this that another famine swept the land. Hina
Kuluua thought fortune was at last coming her way. Here was the very
opportunity she craved. Now she would prove her power superior to her
sister's and all the people would sing her praises and worship her

In her excitement she entirely overlooked the fact that she was
goddess of rain, and not of fire. She ordered an immense imu to be dug
in her own hill, Puu Honu. Comprehending her intentions the people at
once realized the utter futility of her proposed action and pleaded
with her against it; but to no avail.

"Do you mean to tell me that my power is less than Hina Keahi's?" she
demanded angrily. "Do you think that I, Hina Kuluua, cannot do as much
for my people in their time of need? I will show you! Then you shall
recognize Hina Kuluua as the greatest goddess in Hawaii."

"You can help as well and perhaps better than your sister," they
argued, "but you cannot do it in the same way. Your power, though it
may be as great, is nevertheless entirely different from hers."

Then Hina Kuluua would order them out of her sight and command them to
hurry the completion of the imu.

At last all was ready. A group with tear-stained faces were gathered
about the smoking imu. Hina Kuluua approached, her head held high in
an air of triumph. She stepped to the edge of the imu, cast a glance
of disdain toward the wailing women and said, "Cover me quickly. Watch
near the imu and in three days a young woman will appear. She will
give you further instructions."

Stepping into the imu she was quickly covered with soil. The people
had expected a cloud of smoke to appear, but were somewhat surprised
to see the little there already was become even thinner and dwindle
away to mere nothingness.

Slowly the long days of waiting passed. The third day dawned. All
morning the people watched for signs from the imu. Late in the
afternoon found their vigilance unbroken; night closed in and still no
sign. Dawn once more, another day of anxiety. On the fifth day they
could no longer restrain themselves and cautiously uncovered the great

A dark greyish cloud rose over the imu - that was all. Within, the
people could distinguish the charred remains of their proud goddess.
With reverence they covered the imu once more and carefully smoothed
it over.

That is why today you cannot see a deep crater in Puu Honu as in
Halai, and why the dark, gloomy cloud - a sure sign of rain - often
hangs low over the one-time home of Hina Kuluua.


Following one of his great victories King Kamehameha I established his
court on the largest island of the Hawaiian group, Hawaii, and
prepared to make his headquarters there for the time. Of course a
heiau must be built, and he ordered construction to begin immediately,
selecting a site near the mouth of the Wailuku where today stands the
armory of the National Guard of Hawaii.

This heiau was unusually large and considerable time was consumed in
building it. Finally it was completed, but before it could be used the
customary human sacrifice had to be offered. Not willing to take one
of his own men, the king went in search of another.

Early one morning, accompanied by a small body of his warriors,
Kamehameha set out in his canoe, sailing along the coast in the
direction of Puna. As the royal party neared Leleiwi Point, two
fishermen in a small outrigger were discovered, busy with their nets.
The king's big war canoe bore down upon them, but recognizing the
royal craft from afar, they paddled lustily for the shore. Knowing the
heiau was nearing completion the fishermen guessed the reason for the
king's early morning visit and had no intention of remaining to
receive him.

[Illustration: Drawn by Will Herwig. Paradise Eng.

"Mamalahoa Kanawai o na Alii" Kamehameha Called After Them.]

Landing safely, yet with the prow of the big canoe not a spear's
length behind, the poor fellows made all speed over the open lava beds
that lie between the shore and the jungle at this point. The king,
standing in the bow of his canoe, was first ashore and in hot pursuit,
but, unfamiliar with the footing there, made poor progress. These lava
beds are full of treacherous pukas and into one of them Kamehameha
stumbled, sinking to his armpits. There chanced to be a sizeable stone
within reach of his hand, and this he hurled after the fleeing men,
but his aim was bad and he missed them. This very stone, and the hole
into which the king fell, may still be seen just mauka of Leleiwi

Glancing over his shoulder, the hindmost fugitive observed the king
was trapped and that his retainers were still some distance to the
rear. Here was a chance for revenge. Swinging his heavy canoe paddle,
which he had been too frightened to drop, the fisherman turned and
dealt his majesty a cruel blow on the head and, leaving him for dead,
made off at top speed after his companion.

When his men came up, the king was just regaining consciousness. One
look at their wounded monarch sent them like a pack of hungry wolves
after the fishermen.

"Mamalahoa Kanawai o na alii!" Kamehameha called after them. "Whoever
purposely murders a fellowman shall be hanged."

And thus the very first law was made in Hawaii.

"Let them go," he said, as his men reluctantly abandoned the chase. "I
am not much harmed and they are badly frightened now. They may never
do violence again to anyone. If any man hereafter wilfully take the
life of another he shall be hanged. Come, let us go back. My heiau
will not require a human sacrifice, for it shall never be used."

So it happened that this was the first heiau ever built without its
human sacrifice, and the last one constructed on the Island. Once the
law forbidding murder was enforced heiaus were no longer needed.

For the first time on Hawaii trails became safe for travelers. Always
theretofore one never knew at what moment an enemy in ambush might rob
him or take his life. Women and children could now go abroad at all
times in safety.

Peace reigned in the land and the people became more prosperous and
progressive. Years passed before the law was broken, and, true to his
word - for the king's word was law - Kamehameha ordered the murderer
hanged. The scene of his execution was the unusually crooked coconut
tree which until recent years stood near the present site of a cracker
factory on what is now Kamehameha Avenue.

Today a careful observer may, by peering beneath the Armory Hall, make
out the few remaining stones which were once a part of the foundation
of the last heiau built on Hawaii.



This volume of Hawaiian Legends is bound in genuine tapa, a cloth - or
more properly speaking a strong paper - made by hand from the inner
bark of the wild mulberry. Briefly, the process of manufacture is as

When full of glutinous sap, the bark of the mulberry is stripped and
steeped in running water until the outer layer is softened. This is
scraped away and the inner bark beaten with corrugated paddles of palm
wood until strips two or three inches broad are widened to ten or
twelve inches.

The edges of these strips are then pasted together with a strong
vegetable glue and laminated with more beating. So skillfully is this
done that it is impossible to detect the lines of jointure.

The tapa used in binding this book is of the stout, heavy grade; but
that used for clothing and scarfs is often as sheer as fine muslin.

Tapa making is confined entirely to the women, men never occupying
themselves with any of its processes.


Hawaiian words may be easily pronounced correctly by using the Spanish
alphabet. There are no silent letters, and all syllables are stressed

Alae (Hawaiian gallinule): Native bird figuring largely in Hawaiian

Ao-opua: Talisman, guardian spirit.

Haleakala: House (hale) of the Sun (la).

Haole: White man.

Hau: Native tree much favored for lanais (arbors) and the wood for
outriggers on canoes and floats for its cork-like lightness. (Hibiscus

Heiau: Ancient Hawaiian temple.

Honu: Turtle, turtle-shaped.

Imu: Underground stove made by scooping a hole in the ground, lining
it with rocks, and building a fire in it. The food to be cooked is
placed in the heated cavern, which is then covered tightly with leaves
and earth.

Kaipaaloa: Inlet or estuary where the sea is quiet.

Keahi: Of the fire.

Kuluua: Of the (gentle) rain.

Lauhala: Leaf (lau) of the puhala tree (Pandanus odoratissimus).

Makai: Toward the sea.

Malihini: Stranger, foreigner.

Mamake: Shrub about ten feet high (Pipturus albidus).

Mamalahoa kanawai o na alii: Your king proclaims this the law of the
land (free translation).

Mauka: Toward the mountains.

Olona: Native flax (Touchardia latifolia).

Pahoehoe: The sterile, flintlike lava as distinguished from aa, the
friable and highly fertile lava.

Pau: The end, finished.

Pili: Grass yielding stout fibres (Andropogon contortus).

Puka: Doorway, entrance, hole.

Puu: Small hill, usually of rounded form.

Ti (formerly written ki): Plant of lily family having bright green
leaves three feet long and six inches wide (Cordyline terminalis).

Waianuenue: Shimmering waters, as a rainbow effect.

Wauke: Native mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera).


Online LibraryCharlotte HapaiLegends of the Wailuku : as told by old Hawaiians → online text (page 2 of 2)