The lineage of Papahānaumoku (also known as Papa or Haumea) and Wākea are mentioned in the Kumulipo, the epic chant of creation according to the Hawaiian people. According to the Kumulipo, Papahānaumoku (Earth Mother) was born in darkness and Wākea (Sky Father) was created in the light. Their union, symbolizing male light’s penetration into female’s darkness, brought forth the birth of the Hawaiian islands and the Hawaiian people.
Traditionally, the eldest child in the family was given the oldest name in your family (on the father’s side). This was often referred to as a “power name.” Each of the islands in Polynesia have some form of “Hawai ʻ i,” such as “Havaiki. Tangarō explains that, “The hiapo, or eldest child, is dedicated to spirituality that sets the tone, the best model for the rest of the archipelago.”
The folds of kapa is what the baby falls into (looks like a pillow) when given birth to. In order for it to be a sacred birth, the baby needs to fall on kapa without help. This refers to a beautiful child.
This paukū (verse) also contains the mythological component of transformation. It was considered a fish birth, then became an island. In some versions, the fish child is born to Ho ʻ ohōkūkalani.
In myths and legends, the mention of a bird usually brings about the same imagery of one coming to tattle tale. The news may either be good or bad.
Punalua – The tradition of spouses sharing a spouse, as two husbands of a wife, or two wives of a husband. In ancient Hawai ʻ i, it was customary for men and women to have more than one spouse. Lili punalua refers to bitter jealousy of a rival.
Ka Pae ‘Āina o HawaiʻiThe archipelago of Hawaiʻi consists ofeight major islands, 124 small islands,reefs and shoals – 6,425 Sq. mi. of land
‘O WĀKEA NOHO IĀ PAPAHĀNAUMOKUHānau ‘O Hawaiʻi, he mokuHānau ‘O Maui, he mokuHo’i hou ‘O Wākea noho iā Ho’ohōkūkalaniHānau ‘O Moloka’i, he mokuHānau ‘O Lānaʻi-kaʻula, he mokuLili ʻōpū punalua ‘O Papa iā Ho’ohōkūkalaniHoʻi hou ‘O Papa noho iā WakeaHānau ‘O Oʻahu, he mokuHānau ‘O Kauaʻi, he mokuHānau ‘O Niʻihau, he mokuHe ‘Ula aʻo Kahoʻolawe
THE BIRTH OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDSThis chant describes one version of Hawaiian Cosmology. Wākea- Skyfather and Papahānaumoku- gives birth to islands, create Hawai’i and Maui. Wākea and Hoʻohōkūkalani - Celestial bodies, Give birth to Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi. Papa becomes jealous and returns to Wākea Born are Oʻahu, Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, Kahoʻolawe is the placenta.
MELE A PĀ KUʻI• Mele a Pākuʻi is a genealogical moʻolelo/chant for the birthing of the Hawaiian islands. Please note that there other chants and stories that account for the creation of the Hawaiian islands that differ in order and other information.
PAPA & WĀ KEA• Papahānaumoku (Earth Mother) was born in darkness• Wākea (Sky Father) was created in the light• Their union, symbolizing male light’s penetration into female’s darkness, brought forth the birth of the Hawaiian islands and the Hawaiian people.
KAHIKI• Though many believe that Kahiki is a reference to “Tahiti,” in old Hawai`i, Kahiki was a term for any place outside of Hawai`i. In other words, it was a broad term for a foreign place, a place beyond the horizon.• Hānau Kahiki-kū, Kahiki-moe gives us an indication of how birthing will take place according to this chant (from SE to NW).
KAHIKI-KŪ• Kahiki-kū literally means “upright Kahiki” and refers to the sky just above the horizon. It is also an ancient reference to the east, the rising up, or standing up of the sun. The east signifies birth, life, and growth. Tangarō states that “the birth of the sun in the east is the birth of consciousness, it relates to this sacred space.” Kahiki-kū defines a time of full awareness and is compared to the blinding sun.
KAHIKI-MOE• Kahiki-moe literally means “prostrate Kahiki” and refers to the horizon. On a deeper level, it refers to the setting sun in the west that culminates at the end of the conscious activity of day, making room for the activities of night, where sleeping returns us to the unconsciousness, to the unknown (through dreams). Kahiki-moe defines a time that allows for our ancestral memories and our distant thoughts related to Wākea to enter into the now. In deeper terms, Kahiki-kū nad Kahiki-moe calls to us to foster the growth of logic and abstract thinking.
HAWAIʻI• Hawaiʻi is referred to as makahiapo (eldest). It is not the oldest geologically, but went first and is is given the title of “eldest” in the family of islands because of its name.
MAUI• Maui was called Mauiloa because there was land access to Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi. In other words, those islands were connected by land and collectively known as Mauiloa.
MOLOLANI• Mololani refers to the phenomenon when one gives birth. It refers to the image of the cord still being attached to the mother. Molo refers to the action of pulling something behind a canoe. Lani refers to a chief. According to legend, Kāne, Kū and Lono created man in a place called Mololani.
KAHOʻOLAWE• Kanaloa is the archaic name for Kahoʻolawe. Papa was in sacred pain because it was a supernatural birth.
LAUKAULA• Laukaula (plover) – Laukaula was the name of a plover. The kōlea, or plover, is a migratory bird.
KAUAʻI The archaic name for Kauaʻi is Kamawaelualani. The closing charm tells of the placenta (Niʻihau), cord (Lehua), and afterbirth (Kaʻula).
Click here to listen to Mele A Pākuʻi by Charles Kaʻupu on Hapa’s CD “In The Name of Love”
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