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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. 

Ka-imu-kālua-ua Heiau


Ulei and her brother Nanahoa lived on Molokaʻi, in the ahupuaʻa of Nā-ʻiwa. Ulei was responsible and hardworking. Nanahoa was kolohe and liked to play jokes on everyone. One day, Ulei was sitting in her favorite spot while spreading her wauke out to dry. Nanahoa ran up to her wearing a torn malo. Ulei offered to mend the malo for him, but Nanahoa refused. He urged her to make a new one. Ulei explained, “Nanahoa, it takes a long time to make kapa for a new malo. Here in Nā-ʻiwa our resources are very limited. We are forced to use ʻuhaloa for kapa and still there isn’t enough for everyone.” “Ulei, I promise, I will do all your chores so you can make new kapa for my malo. Please!” Nanahoa pleaded. She gave in and agreed.
The next day, Nanahoa, true to his word, was doing one of his sister’s many chores when his friends came by. They wanted him to play. He told them he had chores to do and about his promise to his sister. The boys laughed at him and in no time Nanahoa started to brag about how he could make it rain on command. His friends encouraged him to show them, and Nanahoa did. He called a rain cloud over and made it rain on Ulei. A drenched Ulei pleaded, “Please, Nanahoa, make it stop!” “I can’t!” Nanahoa confessed. “I only learned how to start it by eavesdropping on the kāhuna on the mountain. I don’t know how to make it stop. I’m sorry.” “Go to the kāhuna and fix this!” Ulei commanded. Nanahoa made his way up the mountain. It was a dangerous journey, but after all, this was his fault, and he needed to make it right. The strong winds blew through his torn malo. He could barely see the ground below.
Finally, a tattered, bruised, and winded Nanahoa reached the top of the mountain. The exhausted boy crawled toward the kāhuna who were expecting him. They instructed Nanahoa to build a heiau with certain pōhaku from the area. He was to create a special arrangement of two feet by two feet squares of flat rocks set on edge. These small squares of rocks would form one large square, like a net. A small fire was to be built in each little square. When the work was completed he was to call Ulei, and she would discover a solution to her problem.
Nanahoa brought Ulei up to the heiau. As promised by the kāhuna, enormous raindrops, each as large as a gallon, fell onto the heiau.  Incredibly, the pōhaku and fires at the heiau began to cook and dry the falling rain! Ulei, who was soaking wet, dried up in no time. She hugged her brother and told him that the heiau could be used to dry other things, like the kapa that she would use to make his new malo.

In modern times, Molokaʻi Ranch purchased the land of Nā-ʻiwa. The wife of the ranch manager learned about the heiau and its location from kupuna, Aunty Harriet Ne. However, it was almost completely covered by soil carried down the mountain by erosion caused by the ranch’s cows. With great effort, Aunty Harriet and her friends cleared the mud and silt from the heiau. The women then asked Molokaʻi Ranch to build a cement barricade to prevent further erosion.
When Hawaiian Homesteaders moved into the area, Nā-ʻiwa was dry and it hardly rained. They told a local priest the moʻolelo of the heiau and asked him to shut off its power to dry. The families wanted the rain clouds to come back. The priest traveled to the site. After three days, he made his way down the hill with a curtain of rain following him!
Today, the rain-baking heiau of Ka-imu-kālua-ua is still there. Plants have grown on the hillside so thereʻs less erosion smothering the heiau. Volunteers continue to mālama this wahi pana by clearing away invasive grasses and weeds.
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.

E aloha no ka ʻāina a e mālama ka ʻāina ā laila e mālama ana ka ʻāina iā kākou!

Have love for the land and care for the land, then the land will care for us!

Mālama nvt., To take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect, maintain;

ʻĀina n. Land, earth.

(Source: Andrews, Hawaiian to English Dictionary Pukui-Elbert)

O ka mea pule i ka ke alii heiau, he kahuna pule ia. (Puk 18:1) The person who prays at the chief’s temple is a priest.

According to Pukui: in the 1845 laws doctors, surgeons, and dentists were called kahuna.


s. Kahu and ana, a cooking. Hence, a general name applied to such persons as have a trade, an art, or who practice some profession; some qualifying term is generally added; as, kahuna lapaau, a physician; kahuna pule, a priest; kahuna kalai laau, a carpenter; kahuna kala, a silversmith; kahuna kalai, an engraver.

Puk. 38:23. NOTE— Generally in Hawaiian antiquities, the word kahuna without any qualifying term, refers to the priest or the person who offered sacrifices. Puk. 18:1. O ka mea pule i ka ke alii heiau, he kahuna pule ia. See the above and others in their own places.

(Source: Andrews, Hawaiian to English Dictionary Pukui-Elbert)

He ui, he nīnau: O ke ahupuaʻa hea kou hale? Which ahupuaʻa is your home located?


1. n., Land division usually extending from the uplands to the sea, so called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (puaʻa), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the altar as tax to the chief.

2. n., The altar on which the pig was laid as payment to the chief for use of the ahupuaʻa land.

(Source: Hawaiian Dictionary Pukui-Elbert)


n., Pre-Christian place of worship, shrine; some heiau were elaborately constructed stone platforms, others simple earth terraces. Many are preserved today. In Isa. 15.2, heiau is a high place of worship.

(Source: Hawaiian Dictionary Pukui-Elbert)


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