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Moʻolelo Monday

Moʻolelo Monday

On the first Monday of the month a traditional or modern moʻolelo depicting the jculture, 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. 

Hauwahine lāua ʻo Meheanu

In Kailua on Oʻahu, lives a moʻo named Hauwahine. She is the guardian of the Kawainui pond. Meheanu, who is the moʻo guardian of Heʻeia fishpond, would often visit her dear friend Hauwahine at Kawainui.

One hot and sunny day, the two moʻo wahine after a long day of swimming around in Kawainui, rested on the large rocks of Nā Pōhaku o Hauwahine to bask in the warmth of the sun.
While they were resting, they saw a fisherman preparing to throw his ʻupena. This fisherman’s name was Kanakapī. Kanakapī saw his shot and threw his massive ʻupena out. His net spread out wide and laid over the entire school of fish he had his eyes set on. Kanakapī checked over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching him and when he thought the coast was clear, he started pulling in his heavy load of iʻa. He greedily counted his catch as 400 turned to 4,000.
Meanwhile, out of sight, the two moʻo guardians saw that Kanakapī caught waaay more iʻa than he needed. Hauwahine said to Meheanu, “Letʻs test the aloha of this kanaka”. The two beautiful moʻo wahine called out to the man, “HŪI!” and gestured Kanakapī to come over.  Kanakapī alarmingly glanced over at the beautiful women and hoped that they didnʻt see his catch. Before he made his way over to them, he carefully selected the 2 smallest fish of his catch and hid the rest off to the side. Kanakapī carried the 2 iʻa over to Nā Pōhaku o Hauwahine where the two wāhine waited. “Mmm those iʻa sure look yummy.” said Hauwahine “And we’re really hungry.”  Will you please share some iʻa with us?” Hauwahine added. “Uhm, I only caught 4 iʻa,” replied Kanakapī. “2 for my ʻohana, aaand I suppose I could share the other 2 so here’s 1 for each of you beautiful women”. Hauwahine and Meheanu were enraged by his stinginess. Hō ka pī! In a flash, the two women shifted into their moʻo forms. Hauwahine hissed and Meheanuʻs body writhed wildly. Kanakapī yelped in shock! Overcome by fear, he cried and pleaded “Forgive me for my stingy ways! E huikala mai!” Hauwahine and Meheanu came closer to the lawaiʻa. “Auē!” he cried. “I know I have been pī and I want to end my greedy ways! I will share all the iʻa with the community!” Hauwahine and Meheanu saw that Kanakapī was truly sorry for his stinginess and bowed their heads in acceptance of Kanakapī’s promise to no longer be a kanaka pī. From that day on, he became a kanaka lokomaikaʻi.
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.

Ma ka hua helu kahiko o Hawaiʻi nei, ʻo ia hoʻi, 4 kahi, hoʻokahi ia kauna, a mahope aku ʻo ia, e piʻi pāʻumi ana nā huahelu 4, me nā inoa pakahi, e hōʻikeʻike i kēia kiʻi nei.

In the old couting system of Hawaiʻ, that is, 4 is one kauna, and after that the 4 digits will go up ten times, with each name, as shown in the this picture. (Source: Papakilo Database)

Ma ka moʻōlelo o kēia mālama nei, ua lawaiʻa ʻo Kanakapī i ka iʻa he nui. Ua helu ʻo ia i kāna iʻa hoʻokahi lau a i ka iʻa hoʻokahi mano. In the moʻōlelo of this month, Kakanakapī caught many fish. He counted his catch as 400 as it turned to 4,000.

The terms lau, mano, kini, and lehu are often referred to as many, numerous or multitudes in stories, songs and chants. The term nalowale is often refers to as infinite or infinity.

*Note: the term 40 is usually used when counting fish and can still be heard today. When counting 40 pieces of tapa or canoes, the term iako is used.

He kanaka pī ʻo Kanaka pī

Kanaka pī is a stingy man

Hō ka pī!: So stingy!


1. nvs., Human being, man, person Pī

1. nvs., Stingy, miserly, niggardly; stinginess.

(Source: Hawaiian Dictionary Pukui-Elbert)

Ma kekahi moʻolelo ma mua, ua haʻi mākou ʻo ke kino lau ka hōʻike kino i lawe ʻia e ke kino akua. He mau moʻo akua o Hauwahine lāua o Meheanu. He moʻohāuliuli ʻōpulepule o Hauwahine a he puhi ūhā ʻo Meheanu.

In a previous story, we stated that kino lau is the physical manifestation of a supernatural body. Hauwahine and Meheanu were god-like lizards. Hauwahine is a dark gray mottled lizard and Meheanu is a white eel.

Kino lau:

Definition: Many forms taken by a supernatural body, god or demigod. Kino meaning body and lau meaning many. Mary Kawena-Pukuʻi states that kino lau nearly always refers to the physical manifestation of a deity. However, kino lau may also be associated with dieties but not necessarily manifest themselves

Ka Heluhelu ʻĀpono (Recommended reading): He Kaʻao no Hauwahine lāua o Meheanu

Moʻo (Source:Place Names of Hawaiʻi)

supernatural being living usually in water; many were dangerous, some benevolent. One of the many forms a moʻo is that of a lizard, oʻopu, eel and ʻīlio moʻo that sometimes masquerade as humans.

“Predominately female, moʻo deities ….embody the life-giving (hōʻola) and death-dealing (hoʻomake) properties of water, the element with which they are associated

Tradition holds that if you come across a body of freshwater in a secluded area, and everything is eerily still and quiet, you should not linger there because you have stumbled across the home of a moʻo. And if the plants of that place are yellowed and the water is covered with a greenish-yellow froth, then you know the moʻo is at home. If that is the case, you should leave quickly lest the moʻo make itself known to you to your detriment. It might eat you or it might take you as a lover. Either way, you are doomed because the moʻo will consume you—completely.”

Source: Alohalani Brown, M.A. Video Presentation for Puana ka ʻIke:

Ka Heluhelu ʻĀpono (Recommended reading): No ka ʻĪlio Moʻo as told by Kawehi Avelino


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