Clarice B. Taylor’s
Tales about Hawaii
Place Names About Kilauea Crater
Another attempt to destroy Pele and her volcanic fires crops up in a little known legend which comes from the Island of Kauai.
After the death of the Chief Kaha-wali in a lava flow at Puna, Hawaii, the Kauai chiefs determined to make an end to Pele and her antics.
Kauai in those days was famous for having Kahunas (priests) of great spiritual powers. The people of Kauai believed they were strong enough to cope with Pele. So six priests were selected and sent to Hawaii with instructions to go to Kilauea and surround Pele.
The six priests took their assigned positions about Kilauea and called:
“Where is that strange and wonderful woman?”
One of the priests, Halemau-mau, built a house of ferns which stood for centuries on a site near the old Volcano House (which was burned before the present Volcano House was built).
The legend says that it was his house of ferns which gave the name Hale-mau-mau to the present pit.
Another who left his name at Kilauea was Ka-au-ea (the fiery current). A third was Uwe-kahuna (the weeping priest), for whom a cliff has been named. The other three, Ka-ua-nohu-nohu, Kalani-ua-ula and Kapu-e-uli, have been forgotten.
The end of their story is tragic. Pele killed them all.
Today, Pele is being minutely examined by scientists who run the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the rim of Kilauea. These scientists probe and probe Pele’s temperature and examine her habits and nature with utter disregard to the ancient legends. But even they find that Pele legends are alive and real today.
The scientists have been observing this strange woman since the Volcano Observatory was established July 1, 1912.
It was first directed by the Department of Geology of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The trustees of the Whitney Estate had in 1909 granted $9,000 toward its construction
It was the late volcanologist Dr. Thomas Jagger who decided upon the observatory’s location on the rim of Kilauea.
Dr. Jagger became a true lover of Pele. He devoted his life to her study and it was he who interested the members of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce and leading citizens in the firm support of the Observatory through a volunteer organization, the Hawaiian Volcano Research Association.
(Star-Bulletin, 12/12/1959, p. 24)