A Hawaiian Tradition of Laukaieie

Hawaiian historian Moses (Mose) Manu penned several lengthy traditions for the native newspaper Nupepa Ka Oiaio in which he included detailed accounts of a wide range of practices, including those associated with fisheries and deified guardians of the ocean and freshwater fisheries. This account, “He Moolelo Kaao Hawaii no Laukaieie…,” was published between January 5, 1894 and September 13, 1895. The tradition is a rich and complex account with (i) island-wide references to places; (ii) descriptions of place name origins; (iii) descriptions of fisheries and aquatic resources; and (iv) history and mele, interspersed with accounts from other traditions and references to nineteenth-century events.

The following excerpts of Manu’s account were translated by Maly and include an overview of the mo‘olelo and reference narratives which recount the travels of Makanike‘oe, one of the main figures in the account. During his travels, Makanike‘oe sought out caves and tunnels that served as underground trails, and through the description of his travels, we learn about some of the wahi pana and resources of the lands through which he traveled. The selected translations also focus on several of the descriptions of fishing, including locations where various species can be found, and the religious-spiritual significance of marine resources:

Kaholokuaiwa (w) and Koaekea (k) lived at Ulu, in Waipio Valley on the island of Hawaii. They were descended from the chiefly and godly lines of Kahiki and Hawaii. Their first child was Laukaieie. But because she was born in an eepa (mysterious) form, looking more like a plant than a child, she was wrapped in lipoa seaweed and set in the stream. Without her parents’ knowledge, Laukaieie was retrieved by a mountain goddess and nurtured. Later, another child, a son, was born to Kaholokuaiwa and Koaekea. They named him Hiilawe, and he lived with his parents.

Koaekea’s sister was Pokahi, and her husband was Kaukini. Though they had been married for a long time, they were childless, and because of their prayers and offerings, the forest goddess, Hinauluohia, approached Pokahi while she was gathering seaweed, and told her that she would have a girl child to raise as her own. The condition was that no one, not even her brother and sister-in-law were to know about this child. Because Pokahi and Kaukini lived on the mountain ridges between Waipio and Waimanu, it was easy for her to keep the secret. It was in this way, that Laukaieie came to be raised by her own aunt and uncle. As a youth, Laukaieie’s companions were the spirits of the plants and animals of the forest. When she matured, she was very beautiful, and thoughts of finding an acceptable mate for her began to grow. One night, when Laukaieie was sleeping, she dreamed of flying past the valley lands of Hawaii, and across Maui, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, Niihau, Kaula, and on to Lehua,1 where she saw a handsome young chief, named Kawelonaakalailehua. It was this chief that was destined to become her husband.2

The following accounts describing places of the ‘Ewa District and neighboring lands are excerpted from the longer narratives which describe the travels of Laukaieie, her younger brother Makanike‘oe, and their companions. The lei momi (pearl garlands) of ‘Ewa were described while Laukaieie and her companions were at Ka‘ana, Molokai:

Leiomanu (a youth of Kaala, Oahu) gave Kaana of Molokai, and Kawelonaakalailehua, the prized lei momi of Ewa as gifts. The characteristics of these pearls (momi) included those with a fine yellowish tint, others had bumps like diamonds, and some were bluish-yellow. There were many types of pearls, and they were once regularly seen in the sheltered bays of Ewa at Oahu. They came from the Pipi (oysters), and the pearls were found near the edges of the Pipi shell. They were a thing greatly cherished by the chiefs of old and worn in lei (necklaces). This is why it is said:

My fish which quiets the voices,
You mustn’t speak or the wind will blow.

This is the famous thing of Ewa, where the fish quiet the voices, to these new times.3 This is the type of lei which had been given to the alii of Lehua, the island which snatches the sun…4

… Laukaieie and her companions, Hinahelelani and Koiahi arrived at Honouliuli and were greeted by the natives of that land. Koiahi, a chiefess from Makua, Waianae, was related to Kahoonani (w), Ulalena (w), and Kauakiowao (k), the alii of Honouliuli. It is for these alii that the chant is sung:

Kahoonani resides upon the plain,
Ulalena is completely surrounded by the Kauakiowao rains…

While they were being hosted at the house of these natives, they saw the beginnings of a red-hued rainbow form near the shore and knew that Kauakiowao, the elder brother of the two beautiful sisters, was crossing the flat lands, drawing near to house. When he arrived, Hinahelelani asked Koiahi to invite Kauakiowao to accompany them on their journey to Kauai… The party departed from the residence at Honouliuli and traveled to Puuokapolei, where they met the young maidens Nawahineokamao and Peekaua, the beauties who dwelt upon the lowlands of Puuloa. These two maidens accompanied the travelers to Waimanalo and Kaiona, for which the song writer of the late chiefess Bernice Pauahi Bishop wrote:

Respond o woman,
Who travels the plain of Kaiona,
Pursuing the mirages,
On the plain covered with ohai blossoms.

Thus, all these beautiful residents of the land of Honouliuli were gathered together, by the famous beauty of Waianae (Koiahi), who is there on the resonating and fine sands of Makua…5

… While Laukaieie and her companions were traveling through Waianae, Makanikeoe was following behind. Having landed on the shores of Mamala, he then traveled to Kahakaaulana and the landing at Kalihi. He then looked down along the glistening sands and waters where the mullet are found, outside of Keahua, at the place called Keawakalai. There he saw a crevasse open in the sea. In this place, were sleeping many sharks and turtles, almost as if under the sand. Makanikeoe quickly entered into the cave with the turtles and sharks, to see them more closely. Because of his great speed, they didn’t know that he had entered their house. It is true that Makanikeoe crawled along one of the crevasses in the sea, and going beneath the land, he exited out at Aliapaakai, at the place called Manawainuikeoo. That is the entrance of the sea into that great salt water pond of Moanalua…

Let the author explain here, that this channel was first made when Pele traveled along the islands making craters here and there. This crater is something like the crater of Kauhako, at Kalaupapa, Molokai.

By this little explanation my readers, you may also know that the remaining crater is there above Aliamanu, the hiding cave of the chief Kahahana, his companion, Alapai, and his beautiful wife, Kekuapoi. He (Kahahana) is the one who killed the priest Kaopulupulu and his son Kahulupue, at Waianae. This is how the famous words of the priest came to be spoken:

Strive for the sea my son,
for from the sea shall come (others of) another land.

And this cave has been given the name “Pililua” from the time of the death of the chief Kahahana.

Pililua, the two of you shall go to Ewa,
You are like a canoe,
Pulled by the rope,
To the cliff of Kealia,
At Kamaomao,
There at Kinimakalehua.

After seeing these places, Makanikeoe then went to the top of Leilono, one of the deity of ancient times. There is a pit dug there in which the foul smelling bodies of the dead and the defiled matter of the dead are thrown.

Makanikeoe left that place and went to a place that was covered with something like a rough pahoehoe surface, below the present-day 5 mile marker on the road at Kapukaki. There he saw the spirit of a woman moving swiftly over a portion of the pahoehoe. Makanikeoe recognized that this was a spirit form rather than that of a living woman, and he felt compassion for her. He then saw that there was a deep pit there, filled with the spirits of dead people, swaying back and forth, and crying out, with moaning and wailing. This is the pit which in ancient traditions is called Kaleinaakauhane. The spirits of the dead go there and can only be freed if their aumakua (ancestral family god) fetches them. They might even be returned back to life again…

Now you may be wondering my readers, what was the name of this woman that Makanikeoe took up in his hands. Well the writer will tell you the name of this beautiful young woman of Kaiahamauleo o Ewa-nui-a-Laakona (The fish that quiets the voice of Great-Ewa-of-Laakona), it was Kawailiula. She was a native of two lands of Ewa, Waiau and Waimano. And it is for this woman that Kawailiula, between the 9 and 10 mile markers from Waiau and Manana 2nd is named; it is near the present-day court house of Ewa…

At this place, Kaleinaakauhane, hundreds and thousands of spirits have been lost…6

…Makanikeoe then went to the uplands, atop the cliffs and ridges of Koolau, where he looked down and chanted:

Beautiful is Halawa in the Waahila rains,
Which visits also, the heights of Aiea,
The heat and warmth travels across the plain of Kalauao.

It is true, that he then went to Kalauao, where he saw the pool of Kahuawai. He turned to the uplands and saw the source of the water coming out of the earth, near the top of the cliff of Waimalu. The source of this water, from where it flows, cannot be easily seen because it comes out from the ground in an area where there are many deep holes hidden on the side of the cliff of Waimano. It is from one of these pits that the water flows. It is also at one of these places that the body of David Malo7 was laid to rest.

This place, between Waiau and Waimano, called Waipuhia, is the place of Kawailiula, who was brought back to life at Kaleinaakauhane, at Kapukaki…

Kawailiula invited Makanikeoe to her home where food was prepared, the anae (mullet) from the pond of Weloka and the famous foods of the land. Kawailiula invited Makanikeoe to stay with her, but he declined, explaining that his elder sister and her companions were waiting for him at Waianae… Kawailiula bid farewell to Makanikeoe and he disappeared from sight, born by the wind, Moaeku of Ewa.

Makanikeoe then traveled to Manana, now the 10 mile marker, and the place where the court house of Ewa stands. This is the place where Oulu, the famous warrior of Kahekili, king of Maui, was surrounded by warriors who thought to take him prisoner. It is there that Oulu fought like the eel Palahuwana, and with great strength and skill, overcame those who fought against him. The place where this fight occurred is called Kaoinaomakaioulu to this day.

Makanikeoe then followed the trail to a place where he saw a large gathering of youth along the trail, at the place called Napohakuhelu. The activity of the children at this place was the shooting of arrows, something that was always done by the youth of those times.

There was among this gathering of youth from Waiawa, a handsome boy named Kanukuokamanu (not to be confused with a place of the same name in Hilo, Hawaii). His place of residence was on the shoreward side of the government road, a place something like a hillock from where one can look to the estuary of Waiawa. It is about at the ten and a half mile point, and the place is known by the name of this youth today.

When Makanikeoe arrived at the place where the youth were playing, he was saddened at seeing the young boy crying. This was because the older children had taken all the arrows, and left none for the younger child to play with. Makanikeoe took the young boy away from the group to a place off to the side. He told the boy “Stop crying and I will give you an arrow of your own. This arrow will fly farther than any of the arrow of your friends.” Makanikeoe then gave the boy an arrow like none other he’d seen.

Now Kanukuokamanu was the son of the chief of Waiawa … When he returned to the group of other children who were still playing, he prepared to compete as well. He chanted first to his arrow:

Kaailehua flies,
Kainiki flies,
Ahuahu flies…8

Kanukuokamanu shot his arrow and it flew beyond all the other arrows of the competitors. It flew all the way to “the end of the nose of the pig” at Waimano, and then returned to the youth who had shot it…

Makanikeoe then departed and was lost from sight. Looking seaward, Makanikeoe saw the fin of a shark passing by, in front of a stone in the estuary of Waiawa, on the west side of Kanukuokamanu, next to Piliaumoa. Seeing the shark, Makanikeoe drew nearer and he saw that it was Kahiuka, a native of this estuary. His cave was comfortably situated on the side of the stone. Kahiuka was a good shark, and in his story, he is the guardian of Manana and Waiawa.

The author has met a man at Manana who was known by the name, Kahiuka. He learned the traditions of this shark in his youth, and was taken by this shark for a period of time, and returned again to the land in good health. The man has since died, but his daughter is still alive, and his story is an amazing one.

After seeing the house of this hero of the sea (Kahiuka), Makanikeoe turned and walked along the place where the waters flow from the land at Piliaumoa, Mokaalina, Panaio, Kapuaihalulu, Kapapau, and Manuea. The trail then turned and went to the top of Haupu, where the foundation of the Luakini (Church) of Ewa was later situated. Near there, was a large pond in which awa (milkfish), anae (mullet), and aholehole (Kuhlia sanvicensis) fish were found.

Oh readers, let the author explain something here. At the time Luau came from Maui to dwell on Oahu, he arrived at Waiawa, Ewa. He saw some men thatching dried ti leaves on the Luakini (church) that was being built there. Luau asked some people, “Who is the one that is having this important house built?” They answered, “Kanepaiki.” Luau then stated, “The house shall not be finished to its ridge pole before the one who is having it built dies.” The people asked, “Why?” Luau answered, “The house is atop the Heiau (temple) and the Fishpond is below, it is because the waters [life and wealth] are flowing out from this place. (So too shall the life flow out.)” These words of Luau were true, the Luakini of Waiawa was not completed before Kanepaiki died. His body was buried in the uplands of Waimalu.

These were the words of Luau. The one who discerned the nature of the land (kuhikuhi puuone), in the time of the King Kauikeaouli K. III. And his descendants are still living at Kanaio, Honuaula, Maui…

From this place, Makanikeoe then turned and looked to the calm waters of Kuhia Loko and Kuhia Waho. He went to the ponds and saw water bubbling out, and in the pond were many fish of the sea. It was of this pond, that Kane and Kanaloa spoke, while in Kahiki, as heard by the prophet Makuakaumana, who crossed the sea and traveled to Hawaii:

The mullet are at Kuhia-loko,
The seaweed is at Kuhia-waho,
The salt is at Ninauele,
The nehu pala are at Muliwai
The lone coconut tree stands at Hape,
The taro leaves are at Mokaalika,
The water is at Kaaimalu,
The awa is gathered at Kalahikiola.
Behold the land.

All of these places named by the gods can be seen, extending from the sea of Waiawa, to Halalena at Waiawa uka.

From this place, Makanikeoe then went to a large deep spring which flows from waters beneath Waipio and Waiawa. At a place where the priests discard their offerings. He then came upon another spring at the entrance of the estuary of Waiawa. The trail then turned towards Palea and Pipiloa, where there grew groves of kou and hau in ancient times, and it was the residence of the rulers of Oahu. This is the place where the king of Oahu, Kualii-a-Kauakahiakahoowaha, found his first wife, Kawelaokauhuki, who was of the uplands of Waimano. It is this Kualii who built the long house called Makanaole, on the inland plains of Manana 2nd. It is near the place now called Kulanakauhale Momi (Pearl City).

Makanikeoe then traveled to the fishponds of Hanaloa and Eo, the great ponds of Ewa. It is for these ponds that the lines of the song say:

The water of Eo is not fetched,
It is the sea of Hanaloa that ripples forth.

At this pond, Makanikeoe saw a deep crevasse and inside, there was a giant eel sleeping. The name Hanaloa was given because of the great amount of work that was done by the chief and the people in carrying the stones with which to surround the crevasse and build the pond wall. Thus the pond was built. And it is a famous pond for it is rich with fish, and for the eels which Keinohoomanawanui desired to eat.

From the pond, Makanikeoe then walked to a place where there were several small points of land, near where Papio was bitten and where the sea enters Honouliuli. He noticed how very calm the surface of the water was here, but he also saw that it was agitated in its depths. Looking more closely, he saw in the depths some very large fish, as if guarding the entrance to the harbor. One of these two large fish was like a marlin with a long bill and rows of teeth. The other one was a barracuda whose teeth protruded out of both sides of its mouth. These two fish of the bays of Ewa, had ears with which to hear. They leapt in the ocean like flying fish, and are spoken of in some of the traditions of Hawaii.

The marlin is the one, who with his sharp bill, divided the waters that enter into Ewa. Thus, Makanikeoe understood the nature of these fish, and what their work was. They were the guardians of the place. It is true also, that in a short while Makanikeoe saw a procession of many sharks arrive. There was in this group, the famous chiefess, Kaahupahau, of Puuloa, and the messengers of the king shark [Kamohoalii] of Kahoolawe. She was taking them on a tour and to drink the waters of Waipahu and Waiahualele, and to drink the awa from Kahauone, in Waipio uka…

Makanikeoe then turned again to the place where Papio had been bitten as a result of her asking for the ilima [Sida fallax] garlands of the old woman, Koihala. This is what the old woman told Papio:

The beautiful girl asks,
That the garlands of the old woman be given to her.
Heed my words dirt of the dog, dirt of the pig,
String your own garland and let it wilt.

Makanikeoe then departed from this place, turning to the plain of Puuloa. He passed many pits in this place where the bones of men have been left. He then followed the trail of the breadfruit tree, Leiwalo, at Honouliuli. This is the breadfruit tree of the expert sailor, Kahai (Kauluakahai), so told in his story.

There are also many pits in which were planted sugarcane and bananas, and planting mounds. He also saw manu oo (honey creepers) sipping the nectar of noni blossoms. There were also two ducks that had gone into a pit, and with a great strength, they were trying to push a stone over, to hide the pit. This Makanikeoe knew what the ducks were trying to do. They wanted to hide a spring of water which flowed underground there. It is this spring which in calm times could be heard, but not found by the people who passed through this area. It was a secret spring, known only to certain native residents of the area, and its name is recorded in the last line of the song:

The o-u is the joyful bird of Kaupea,
The joyful voiced o-o is of Puuloa,
Softening the blossoms of the wiliwili,
Drinking the drops of nectar from the noni,
The birds drink and pass time,
The eyes cast about seeking,
The water of the natives,
The eyes seek the water of Kaiona.

This hidden spring, known only to the natives, was not hidden to Makanikeoe. From there, Makanikeoe then turned back towards Honouliuli and saw the pit of the native eel, Kapapapuhi, the elder of Laumeki, whose stone-form body is there at the base of Kauiki, Hana, Maui. He was an eel of Oahu who traveled to Hana where he stayed and was turned into stone.

There is also at this place, Kaihuopalaai, where the anae (mullet) begin their journey from Honouliuli to Kaihukuuna at Laiemaloo, Koolauloa. Seeing this pit, Makanikeoe swiftly ran back to Waipahu, where he looked at the source of the water, where it came out of the earth, and flowed to the estuary of Waikele.  Makanikeoe dove into the water to determine its hidden source. He swam underground, and first arrived at Kahuaiki, at Waipio, for which the song is sung:

Return to the coolness of Waipio,
The cold water of Kahuaiki…

He then dove under and came out on the plain of Puunahawele, that barren and peopleless plain. There he saw the source of the water of Kahuaiki. It is near a hidden stone (shaped like a hook pendant) and close to Kekuaolelo, along the trail which ascends straight up to Waipio uka. Makanikeoe then turned and followed the water path, and with great strength, he arrived at Kawaipuolo, at Waialua. There, he saw the pool of Laniwahine in the famous pond of Ukoa. He then quickly went from Waialua to Kawela, and from there, to Punahoolapa, a deep spring on the plain of Kahuku. There he found the water source that the kapa anvil fell into and was carried to Waipahu, at Ewa. Makanikeoe then crawled along another path and arrived at Punamano, also at Kahuku…9

Makanikeoe continued his journey through the various springs of O‘ahu, until he rejoined his sister and companions at Wai‘anae. The group then continued on their journey to Kaua‘i.


1The lengthy narratives include site descriptions and traditional accounts for various locations across the island named.
2Moses Manu, Nupepa Ka Oiaio, January 5 to 19, 1894. Trans. by Maly.
3Tradition has it that the pipi (mother of pearl oysters) were very sensitive to any sounds, and those who were noisy would scare the shellfish into hiding. Thus, when going to catch pipi and other similar oysters, no one spoke. See Pukui [26:no. 493, 1357, and 1377].
4Nupepa Ka Oiaio, March 9, 1894, p. 4.
5Ibid., April 19, 1895, p. 1.
6Ibid., April 26, 1895, p. 1.
7This is not David Malo of Lahaina Luna, but a namesake, who was also a historian and active church member.
8Nupepa Ka Oiaio, May 3, 1895, p. 1.
9Ibid., May 10, 1895, p. 1.

Related Documents

Moolelo contain expressions of native beliefs, customs, practices, and history. The Hawaiian landscape itself is storied, and each place name is associated with a tradition—ranging from the presence and interactions of the gods with people, to documenting an event, or the characteristics of a given place. Unfortunately, today, many of those moolelo have been lost. Through the moolelo that have survived the passing of time, we are able to glimpse the history of the land and people of Honouliuli Ahupuaa.

Included here are a collection of narratives written by native Hawaiian authors and historians, as well as non-Hawaiian visitors and residents of the land during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The narratives document traditional lore and knowledge, customary practices and beliefs, and the importance of place names which have survived the passing of time. A number of the accounts come from Hawaiian-language resources which have not been previously available in English. Other citations revisit some of the better known historical accounts, while attempting to shed new light on them, with efforts made to place them in a Hawaiian cultural context based on a wide range of resource materials.

Transcripts and/or translations of the Hawaiian-language accounts are given either verbatim, or in summary for longer narratives, with emphasis on the key events—their association with akuaaina, and kanaka of Honouliuli Ahupuaa. The citations span the period from antiquity to the 1920s. We have elected to include the Hawaiian-language transcripts in an effort to provide present and future generations with easy access to these important narratives as a means of fostering ongoing cultural attachment to place, and for educational and interpretive purposes. In this way the kupuna speak for themselves, and pass their voices on to inspire continued knowledge of place, practice, and use of the native place names.

It will be noted that in a number of instances, place names originated as the names of notable figures—either gods, demigods, chiefly personages or deified ancestors—while other names describe events or particular characteristics of named locations.