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Mo‘ōlelo Chapter 6: Hawaiʻi Island


Pele Honua Mea by Herb Kawainui Kāne

While Pele’s body laid dismembered and scattered on the Island of Maui, her fiery spirit emerged and lit the skies above as she turned towards Hawai‘i Island and headed there in her search of a new home. Her sister and rival, Nāmakaokaha‘i became enraged as she thought victory was hers when instead Pele became stronger leaving behind a mortal body. Nāmakaokaha‘i had been dissuaded to face her sister directly as in this form, Pele was nearly invincible.


Pele landed on Hawai‘i Island at Puako, south of Kawaihae. Her company followed to the desolate spot and they ventured inland towards the large mountain mass known as Mauna Loa. Night soon fell and they slept as their journey was long.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater – Photo by Christopher Chan Photography

In the morning, when the ‘elepaio uttered its first note, they rose from their slumber. Pele, as she did before on numerous occasions, took her ‘ō‘ō Pāoa in hand and begun to dig into the vast caldera of Kīlauea. She continued day and night until she came to molten rock and fire. It was then she knew this would make for a suitable new home for herself and her brothers and sisters. Upon completion of the blazing pit, Pele changed her egg-like sister, Hi‘iakaikapoliopele into human form.


One day, as Hi‘iaka was in the forest of Pana‘ewa near Hilo, she came across a girl stringing a lei of lehua blossoms. Longing for friendship, Hi‘iaka approached the girl and learned that her name was Hopoe. Hopoe spent her time making lei and planted two groves of lehua trees, one white and the other red, which she gifted to Hi‘iaka. Pleased by this gesture, Hi‘iaka told Hopoe, “Now that we are friends you must go wherever I go. Wherever I sleep you shall sleep. We shall never be parted.”

Hi‘iaka and Hopoe by Linda Rowell Stevens

Hi‘iaka returned to Kīlauea with her new found friend who taught the family to make lei of lehua blossoms. Soon, all of Pele’s family were busily stringing lei – this pleased Pele very much.

‘Ōhi‘a Lehua on Kīlauea – Photo by All Hawai‘i News

One day, Pele called out to Hi‘iaka for while they found a new home, their journey was not yet complete.


Join us next month for the continuation of the journey…

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