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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. 

The Hōlua Race of The Goddesses

The island of Hawaii is an island of extremes – the dry deserts of Ka’ū and the lush forests of Kohala, the soaring cliffs of Hamakua and sandy beaches of black, green and white, and of course, the snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea and the raging volcanic fires of Kilauea. Many of these landscapes have legends attached to them, telling of the gods and spirits that shaped the island. This is the moʻolelo of the hōlua race of the goddesses.

Long ago, on Hawaiʻi island, lived two beautiful goddesses. Pele the goddess of fire, volcanoes and the creation of land who lived on the slopes of Mauna Loa…and Poliʻahu, the goddess of snow who lived on the snow capped peaks of Mauna Kea. 

Separated from each other, they stayed on their own mountaintop until one day when Pele decided to create some mischief. 

One beautiful sunny day. Poliʻahu and her snow goddesses Līlīnoe, Waiau, and Kahoupokāne carried their hōlua sleds down the snowy slopes of Mauna Kea to a soft green hillside above Hāmākua. All of them were very skilled riders, but Poliʻahu was the best. 

As they arrived at the hillside to race, a beautiful young woman appeared out of nowhere. Her red and black dress was the color of lava and the haku lei she wore was made of ʻōhiʻa. The snow goddesses wondered who this stranger was.

The stranger asked if she could join in their races and the snow goddesses, eager for a new challenger, gladly accepted. 

Līlīnoe handed the stranger her hōlua and once at the top, the stranger set the sled down, ready to race each maiden. 

She raced all 3 maidens…and won all 3 times…with ease. With confidence, the stranger then turned to Poliʻahu and dared her to race. Confident as well, Poliʻahu gladly accepted the challenge. 

Both racers swooped down the mountain. She and Poliʻahu kept close together, but in the end, Poliʻahu, who had raced this slope many, many times, pulled ahead and proved too fast for the stranger.

The stranger grew very angry. Her dark eyes turned a stormy black and the skies overhead began burning yellow, then orange, then red. Poliʻahu watched in amazement as the stranger began to change right before her eyes.

The air around them went from warm to hot. Poliʻahu could feel the heat rising. The hillside they just stood on, just seconds ago so lush and green, began to dry up. Flowers wilted, trees turned black and crisp, leaves dropped to the ground and sizzled. The mountain started to shake and pulse like it was coming back to life. 

Beneath her feet, Poliʻahu could feel the earth growing hotter and hotter. Suddenly she knew the stranger was her archenemy Pele, the goddess of fire. 

Pele lifted her arms calling out to the volcano. Cracks in the earth appeared while rivers of lava boiled up out of the ground. The sound the earth made as it shifted and broke open was like nothing the snow goddess had ever heard before. 

Poliʻahus icy white kingdom was disappearing before her eyes.  

Poliʻahu hurried up the slope as quickly as she could go, jumping side to side as Pele threw fireballs at her from down below. The edges of Poliʻahus white cloak began to burn up. She could feel the fire against her heels. She ran faster and faster.

Once Poliʻahu reached the top of the mountain, she turned around to see what Pele had done. Lava flowed as far as the eye could see. The ocean boiled and steam hung over the bay in fat yellow clouds. 

Poliʻahu was able to summon every ounce of strength she had left. She lifted her cloak and threw it over the peak of the mountain, just like she was throwing a gigantic net out to sea. Her cloak floated and then spread out over the top of the mountain.

Pele watched helplessly as Poliʻahu’s cloak unfolded and covered the mountain in white. All that was left of Pele’s fury were the narrow strips of black lava that stretched out into the blue sea.

Pele shivered in the icy air and knew that she had been defeated. She gave up her battle and headed down the mountain, back to her hot smoldering home of Mauna Loa.

Poliʻahu and her friends hiked up Mauna Kea back to their homes. They knew that although Pele had been defeated this time, she would be back again.

To this day, Pele tries to take over Poliʻahu’s district, but as long as Poliʻahu reigns and as long as the snow maidens keep their mountain top cool, Hawaiʻi island will be able to live in peace.

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.


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