Ka Pae ‘Āina o Hawaiʻi
The archipelago of Hawaiʻi consists of
eight major islands, 124 small islands,
reefs and shoals – 6,425 Sq. mi. of land
‘O WĀKEA NOHO IĀ
Hānau ‘O Hawaiʻi, he moku
Hānau ‘O Maui, he moku
Ho’i hou ‘O Wākea noho iā Ho’ohōkūkalani
Hānau ‘O Moloka’i, he moku
Hānau ‘O Lānaʻi-kaʻula, he moku
Lili ʻōpū punalua ‘O Papa iā Ho’ohōkūkalani
Hoʻi hou ‘O Papa noho iā Wakea
Hānau ‘O Oʻahu, he moku
Hānau ‘O Kauaʻi, he moku
Hānau ‘O Niʻihau, he moku
He ‘Ula aʻo Kahoʻolawe
THE BIRTH OF THE
This 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
PAPA & WĀ KEA
• Papahānaumoku (Earth Mother) was born in
• 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.
• 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 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 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
• Hawaiʻi is referred
to as makahiapo
(eldest). It is not the
but went first and is
is given the title of
“eldest” in the
family of islands
because of its name.
• 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
• 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
• Kanaloa is the archaic
name for Kahoʻolawe.
Papa was in sacred pain
because it was a
• Laukaula (plover)
– Laukaula was
the name of a
plover. The kōlea,
or plover, is a
The archaic name for
Kauaʻi is Kamawaelualani.
The closing charm tells of
the placenta (Niʻihau),
cord (Lehua), and
Click here to listen to Mele A Pākuʻi by Charles
Kaʻupu on Hapa’s CD “In The Name of Love”
If you have any
ask them on the
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.