Hale constructed to protect its occupants from the rain, the sun, and from the winds during the colder months of the year Here the people kept their possessions and felt the security of belonging to a certain place in common with their `ohana The framework of posts were lashed together with strong cordage and made waterproof by a covering of thatch The small doorway was the only opening so it was dark as it had no windows. The opening was just wide enough for a person to crawl through. As such, poor lighting limited the house’s usefulness for productive activity during the day.
Hale noe/hale moe – sleeping house for the entire family. The word noa implies that the house was free from the kapu which kept men and women apart. Moe is to sleep. Food was not brought into the sleeping house. It is here that the family and their friends could visit, play quiet games and tell stories. The hale noa was usually the largest hale in the compound. No kapu applied to the hale noa, but gender considerations governed use of other buildings, in keeping with religious beliefs. Hale mua – The men’s eating house, was kapu to women for it contained the images sacred to men and was the place where men ate and made offerings. A kuahu, or altar, was erected at one end and it is here that the chief gave prayers and offerings each day to the family god or gods known as `aumakua. Hale `aina – The women’s eating house was kapu to men. Here the women and young boys ate the food prepared for them by the men. Hale pe`a – A small house that was located some distance away from the others. This where the women remained during their menstrual period. Food was brought to them by other women until the period was over. Hale papa`a/ho`āhu – One or more storehouses. It was usually elevated two feet or more above the ground and fitted with floors of planks. Food crops were harvested, brought here and stored until needed. The perishable foods were cooked within a few days. `Uala (sweet potatoes), dried and salted foods such as fish could be kept for some time. Tools (`ō`ō) and items collected as teaxes such as moena, kapa and `umeke were stored here until needed. Hale kuku or Hale kua – A house where the kapa making tools were kept and where the kapa was pounded and decorated, especially during inclement weather. Sometimes a second hale – hale ho`olu`u - was constructed to hold the dye-making materials. The hale were sturrounded by a stone wall to provide a drying yard. Here the kapa was spread out to dry and bleach, safe from the muddy prints of the village animals. Hale imu – Names for the shelters for the outdoor ovens (imu). Since it was used year round in all kinds of weather, it was necessary to have protection from the wind and the rain. A low, crescent stone wall was built on the side of the imu from which the prevailing winds came. A roof was placed over this. Two such structures and their ovens were needed to cook the menʻs and the women’s food. For convenience sake, they were usually built near the hale mua. Firewood was stored and kept dry here. Hālau wa`a is a large canoe house with a thatched roof but open on the sides and ends. Here were kept the canoes, paddles, fishnets, and articles used in canoeing and fishing.
Throughout the process of gathering materials, religious practices were observed. Care was taken throughout the entire process so as to ensure good luck. A kahuna kilokilo (divining priest) chose the location of the house after hearing family members’ dreams. Other precautions in laying out the house included never placing doors opposite each other, for this was thought to allow luck to come in one door and go right out the other. Most of this was done by the head of the household and his family with the help of his neighbors and friends in the village. The men cut the timbers in the mountain forests, carried them to the house site and cut them into the desired lengths with a stone adze The bark was removed from the timbers used in the better houses. Holes were dug with the `ō`ō (digging stick) an the posts were set in place after the upper ends had been cut to a point to receive the notch of the rafters The entire framework was lashed together securely A stone platform (paepae) raised the house floor above the damp earth The large foundation stones which formed the floor of the house were covered with small pebbles (`ili`ili) The pebbly floor was often covered with dry grass or mats A wisp of grass was left uncut over the doorway (piko) for use in the dedication of the house Houses were distinguished by the kind of wood used in their framework such as hale lama, hale kauila, or hale hau. A hale pili was thatched with pili grass, a hale lau with leaves from the hala, ti or sugarcane The Hawaiian Dictionary lists some 32 kinds or classes of houses pre-European contact.
The materials used largely depended upon the resources available nearby and whether the hale was for an ali`i or maka`āinana. In either case, hardwoods were selected for the ridgepoles, posts, rafters and thatching poles These hardwoods provided a very sturdy framework and was strong enough to support the weight of one or more men who would later climb up to add thatching poles and the thatching itself later. All wood used in the hale was lashed together; no pegs were used Notches for cross-members and lashings were carefully made with stone adzes Wood for a given purpose (ie: rafters) was always of just one species. Thatching poles might be māmane or naio or other species but they were never mixed for a single purpose in a given hale
Thrives in higher elevations Rare now except on Haleakala and Mauna Kea Introduced animals – cattle, sheep, goats, pigs – eat the young sprouts until few seedlings survive
Once the frame of the house had been erected, it was time to thatch the roof and sides of the house and finish the interior. Selection of the thatching material varied according to locality, climate and even family preference In drier places, pili was generally favored In wetter areas, other plants were favored – mai`a, kī, lauhala
After the soil was thoroughly shaken off, the roots and flowering spikes were trimmed off and the bunch was ready to use. They were tied in rows, stems up beginning at the bottom of the hale, with each subsequent row overlaying the ones below. The result was a dense and thick thatch as the pili bunches were compressed and tied close together along the thatching poles Pili thatch had to be replaced every 4-5 years Its main drawback is that it did not have a finished, attractive look from the inside, so hale pili were often lined with hala, ti or kō Preferred because the pili (clings) to the framework
Bundles of 10 leaves of uniform size were secured to the thatching poles in a fashion that made inside finishing unnecessary
Floor covered with lauhala or makaloa mats. Mats were small enough to be easily carried through the doorway for sunning and airing out. Hikie`e – a deep pile of mats across the end of the house Pillows were made from lauhala and filled with folded lauhala Kapa moe – covering Ancient hale was dimly lit. Roasted, shelled kukui nuts were strung on a coconut leaf midrib (nī`au) or a sliver of `ohe (bamboo).
HALE• Hale noa/Hale moe – Sleeping quarters• Hale mua – Men’s eating house; kapu to women• Hale `aina – Women’s eating house; kapu to men• Hale pe`a – House for women during menstruation• Hale papa`a/hale ho`āhu – Food storage• Hale kuku/hale kua – House for beating kapa• Hale imu/hale kāhumu – Cookhouse• Hālau wa`a – canoe house
CONSTRUCTION• Select a site for the house• Procure all the necessary materials• Set up and lash the framework• Tie on the thatch• Create/complete the doorway• Dedication of the house
FRAMING• `Ōhi`a lehua• Lama• Naio• Māmane Framing of a hale at Kahanu Gardens
FRAMING: `ŌHI`A LEHUA• Endemic• The most abundant of all Hawaiian native trees• Wood is long lasting and used for house posts
FRAMING: LAMA• Endemic• Lama grows in both wet and dry areas at lower elevations• Used for house posts
FRAMING: NAIO• Indigenous• Otherwise known as false sandalwood• Has a fragrance resembling `iliahi (sandalwood)• Strong wood used most often for house posts
FRAMING: MĀ MANE• Endemic• A small tree with stunning yellow flowers• very hard, smooth wood• Commonly used on Hawai`i and Maui• Mainly used as thatching poles