Moʻolelo Monday

Moʻolelo Monday

On the first Monday of the month a traditional or modern moʻolelo depicting the culture, values, language or traditions of Hawaiʻi, will be shared through a virtual platform. These mo‘olelo promote literacy within the classroom and home, and encourage ʻohana to read and learn together. Moʻolelo are shared by staff and guest storytellers.


In the 1820’s, Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III was the catalyst for the rise of literacy in Hawaiʻi. He stated, “ ʻO Koʻu Aupuni, he Aupuni palapala koʻu.  My kingdom shall be a kingdom of literacy”. Within our moʻokalaleo, we share a literacy component that extends our moʻolelo journey. 


High in the majestic Koʻolau Mountains on the windward side of Oʻahu is a mountain peak that separates the ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia and Kāneʻohe. It is named Puʻu-Ke-ahi-a-Kahoe. You can see it today rising behind Windward Community College. This moʻolelo describes how Puʻu-Ke-ahi-a-Kahoe was named.
Many years ago, an ʻohana that included three brothers and one sister lived in the moku of ʻEwa on Oʻahu. These siblings constantly fought with their parents. They were disrespectful and their behavior was SO shameful. The four siblings were finally forced to leave ʻEwa because of their bad behavior.
They moved to the moku of Koʻolaupoko on the windward side of Oʻahu. Two of the brothers, Kahua-uli and Kahoe, were mahiʻai farming in the fertile uplands of Kāneʻohe and the next ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia. The last brother, Pahu, was a lawaiʻa living near the ocean in Heʻeia. Loʻe, their sister, made her home on a small island in Kāneʻohe Bay.
Whenever Pahu visited his brother in the uplands, Kahoe always generously shared his tasty poi. It was made from the kalo Kahoe worked hard to grow. Pahu was a skilled fisherman who caught many ʻono fish. Fish was the most important protein in ancient Hawaiʻi, so the food Pahu caught was valuable. But after Pahu finished a day of fishing on the reef in Kāneʻohe Bay or in the ocean beyond, he saved the best of the catch for himself and took his extra bait fish to share with Kahoe. Bait fish are tiny and used to catch bigger fish in the ocean. Pahuʻs behavior towards Kahoe was not pono. It was hewa.
One day Loʻe visited her brother Kahoe to get some kalo from him. She immediately asked, “Is the ulua finished cooking in the imu?” Kahoe just stared at his sister. He answered, “I have no ulua in my imu. Pahu only brings me bait fish.” And ulua is not a bait fish–it is large and tasty.“But brother,” Loʻe said, “Pahu catches many fish every day. There isn’t a single time that he comes back empty handed. He is not sharing his catch with you?” How disappointed and angry Kahoe felt! He had no idea that Pahu was being selfish with the fish he caught. Aue! Pahu was being so stingy while Kahoe was so generous. After this incident, Pahu realized that Kahoe knew he had not been treated fairly.
In old Hawaiʻi, people shared resources from the land and the sea with each other. Hawaiians, especially ʻohana, willingly gave needed resources to others living in the same ahupuaʻa. They also shared with people from other ahupuaʻa. Such a system of exchange allowed everyone to have the resources they needed. This was especially important with critical resources such as food.
A few months later, a terrible famine came to the ʻāina. There was an extreme shortage of food and everyone was hungry. Some people would not share the little food they had. Since smoke from an imu meant food was cooking, it attracted many people to come for the food. Often times there was nothing left for the owner. Because smoke rising from an imu is more visible during the day, some people started cooking the limited food they had in the darkness of night. Sadly, many people had stopped practicing the Hawaiian value of sharing resources. Kahoe faced the same food shortages as everyone else. However, he had places to live in two ahupuaʻa: one in Kāneʻohe in front of Ke-aʻa-hala and one in Heʻeia near the pali in Haʻikū Valley. When it  was time to cook, Kahoe travelled to his place in Haʻikū. Because of its location, the smoke from his imu was carried almost a mile away before it was visible at the top of the Koʻolau Mountains. It didnʻt matter if he cooked during the day or at night—no one knew when Kahoe was cooking until after he was done.
One day when the sky was darkening as twilight turned to evening, Loʻe discovered Pahu looking intently at the area where Kahoe lived. In a firm voice, Loʻe spoke to Pahu: “Your eyes are searching for signs of ke ahi a Kahoe (Kahoe’s fire).” Deep in thought over all that had happened, Pahu had no response.
Since Loʻe spoke these thoughtful words to Pahu, this peak has been known as Puʻu-Ke-ahi-a-Kahoe. You can spot it high in the Koʻolau Mountains, reaching nearly 2,800 feet tall. It is where the ahupuaʻa of Kāneʻohe and Heʻeia meet.
Til today, there are places in this ʻāina named after the four siblings.
• An island in Kāneʻohe Bay that is part of the ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia is known as Moku o Loʻe, “Loʻeʻs island”. It is commonly called Coconut Island.
• A hill near the ocean that divides the ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia and Kāneʻohe is called Puʻu Pahu, “Pahuʻs hill”.
• An ʻili ʻāina in Kāneʻohe and a peak in the Koʻolau Mountains are both named Kahua-uli, “dark site”.
• A peak in the Koʻolau Mountains between the ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia and Kāneʻohe is named Puʻu-Ke-ahi-a-Kahoe, “the fire-of-Kahoe-Hill”.
Whenever you are in Koʻolaupoko, be sure to look for these places named after the four siblings and remember their moʻolelo about being pono.
An old Hawaiian proverb says, “Ko ko a uka, ko ko a kai (Those of the uplands share their crops, those of the seaside share their catch).” That is what is considered an appropriate way of living. Should misfortune befall those living in the uplands, so too shall it fall shortly thereafter upon those living along the seaside––all will be affected.
From Sites of Oahu by Elspeth P. Sterling and Catherine C. Summers. Adapted by Papahana Kuaola staff.
Lelekamanu Program
March 2021
Moʻo ʻŌlelo

Weekly, a Mo‘o ‘Ōlelo, a succession of Hawaiian words or phrases will be shared.  The mana‘o behind each word or phrase relates to the mo‘olelo being presented.  This component will enhance cultural awareness and knowledge through Hawaiian language.

ʻŌlelo Noeʻau # 1555 Kāhana auhā Kahana of the shed. Said of the natives of Kāhana, who were said to be pī or stingy. Their fish was hidden in the cane shed rather shared.

Famine, time of famine, destitution of food, impoverished In old times, famine was a common and well documented event. Although Hawai’i was home to an abundance of resources, times that were considered famine were usually times when kalo cultivation, once the staple of Hawai’i, became insufficient enough to provide for the community. The foundation of the Hawaiian diet was based on vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Kalo, ‘uala, and ‘ulu provided most of the calories while fish provided most of the protein.

Literally translating to “The fire of Kahoe”, Keahiakahoe is a cliff along the Ko’olaupoko mountains in the Kāne’ohe quadrangle. The peak, Pu’ukeahiakahoe, overlooks the valleys of Kamanaiki(Kalihi) and Kamananui(Moanalua). Keahiakahoe is named after the mo’olelo involving the protagonist, Kahoe, who strategically made the fires of his imu far upland.

‘Ōlelo No’eau #2699

Pua ka uahi o ko a uka, mana’o ke ola o ko a kai.

When the smoke from the fires of the upland dwellers rises, the shore dwellers think of life. Shore dwellers depended on the uplanders for poi.

An ʻŌlelo Noʻeau says in the moʻo ʻōlelo to “Ko ko a uka, ko ko a kai (Those of the uplands share their crops, those of the seaside share their catch).”  That was ka nohona Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian way of life, Hawaiian lifestyle. Should misfortune befall those living in the uplands, so too shall it fall shortly thereafter upon those living along the seaside, all will be affected.