Emma Nakuina tells the story of Hiiaka, 1883.


A Hawaiian Legend by a Hawaiian Native. A Legend of the Goddess Pele, Her Lover Lohiau and her Sister Hiiakaikapoliopele.

The crater of Kilauea on Hawaii, is the residence of the Goddess Pele. She had eight sisters, all called Hiiaka, with some distinguishing ending, as Hiiaka-noholae, (Hiiaka living on the headland), Hiiaka-wawahilani, (Hiiaka the heaven breaker,) Hiiakaikapoliopele, (Hiiaka in Pele’s heart) etc. The latter commonly called the Hiiaka is the heroine of this legend. Pele had also several brothers Kamohoalii, Lonomakua, Lonoonolii, etc.

All her brothers and sisters were subordinate to her, but Kamohoalii was her favorite brother and Hiiakaikapoliopele the favorite sister. Tradition is not very explicit as to the source of Kamohoalii’s power, but he has always been regarded as the very sacred royal brother of Pele. The brothers and sisters seem to have had great respect foreach other and never trespassed on one another’s privileges, or interfered with each other ‘s actions. Uwekahuna the high bluff of the crater walls beyond the sulphur banks is supposed to contain a large cave, his dwelling, and the bluff is known as “Ka-pali-kapu-o-Kamohoalii” (the tabu cliffs of Kamohoalii.) Smoke from volcanic fires has never been known to be blown against them. True believers stoutly insist that smoke could never by any possibility bend or be blown against it, as that would be a gross violation of the royal privileges of the sacred brother.

Hiiakaikapoliopele was the youngest of the sisters. As her name implies she was the dearly beloved of Pele, and had been endowed by her with a great deal of her divine power and attributes. The other sisters were also Goddesses but of inferior power.

One day Pele asked her sisters and brothers to go down with her to the Puna coast to engage in sea bathing, and so assuming human forms they all went down. Whilst the others were indulging in bathing, surf-riding, gathering opihi, limu and other sea shore delicacies, Pele laid down to take a nap. She first ordered her youngest sister, Hiiaka, to hold her kahili (feather fly brush) and to sit by her head and on no account to allow anyone to awaken her.

It seems that her slumbers at the crater had of late been very much disturbed by the continual tumtum of a drum, and she was determined to discover from whence it came. So dropping asleep she forsook the human shape she had assumed—that of an old, bleary-eyed woman, which was her usual one—and floated in the air towards Waiakea in the direction of the sounds. When she arrived at Waiakea, the drum seemed to sound from Kukuilaumania at Makahanaloa, twelve miles from Waiakea. When Pele arrived there the sounds were withdrawn to Laupahoehoe, on the confines of the Hamakua district. She still followed and on her arrival the sounds seemed to proceed from Mahiki, a forest marsh above Waipio valley. She was now thoroughly vexed and made up her mind to follow the sound to its source, if it took her to the end of Kahiki, from where she came from.

When she arrived at Mahiki the drum sounded as if being struck at Kauwiki in Hana, on the eastern coast of Maui, from thence it sounded at Kalaeokalaau the point at the western end of Molokai; arrived there she seemed to hear it as if being played on at Makapuu, the southeastern extremity of the island of Oahu; from there it sounded at Kaena, a bold headland at the western extremity of the same island. Pele still followed and was not surprised to find the sounds had flown to mid-channel of Kaieiewaho, the channel between Oahu and Kauai; arrived there the sounds came from Haupu on the island of Kauai. Haupu is a mountain peak between Koloa and Lihue and just immediately above the valley of Huleia. When Pele arrived at Haupu she could hear the drum being played at Haena the north-western extremity of that island. As she floated over the intervening space the sounds remained stationary gradually growing louder and plainer. Arrived at the beach of Haena, she perceived that the sounds proceeded from a drum played by a handsome young man…

[Kaili (Emma Nakuina) tells the Hiiaka story in English in this serial column running in the PCA from 8/25/1883 to 10/13/1883.]

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 8/25/1883, p. 2)


The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XXVIII, Number 9, Page 2. August 25, 1883.

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