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.
Lono is considered as one of the main akua to Hawaiian people. He is associated mostly with agriculture, peace, healing, dark clouds, rain and thunder. His temples were built for the practices of healing through lomi and natural medicines.
Lono’s annual arrival is marked by the constellation Makaliʻi, rising just above the horizon, in the season of rain, ocean swells and thunderstorms. This roughly 4 month period is called Makahiki and ushers in the new year for Hawaiians. It is a time of peace. Warfare is ceased and Lono presides over elaborate ceremonies and joyous celebrations.
Lono is known by many names such as Lonomākua the great provider, Lononuiākea akua of weather, Lonomakaʻihe akua of spear throwing and Lonoikeaweawealoha akua of love(making).
Here is one moʻolelo of Lono as a kanaka, before he transcended to Lono the akua.
Long ago, before Hawaiʻi was well inhabited, a lawaiʻa named Lono lived in Keauhou on the island of Hawaiʻi. On days when conditions weren’t ideal for fishing, he would spend his days as lawaiʻa usually do, fixing ʻūmiʻi, mending ʻupena and making makau to make ready for clear and calm conditions ahead.
One early morning, before the sun even rose, Lono awoke to a creaking sound coming from the gourd which carried his fishing supplies, as if it were calling him and telling him to wake up and fish.
He listened to this call and looked out at the horizon to read the omens in the forecast to see what would bring him a good catch. The skies over Mauna looked perfect. This pleased Lono very much being that this was his favorite fishing spot.
Once at Mauna, he left an offering at the Kūʻulakai altar to appease the akua and to bring him fortune in his fishing. He then placed his gear into his waʻa and paddled just beyond the reef.
Lono tied a stone to a baited hook and casted the line into the water and shortly after, felt a tug and quickly pulled in his line. He found that the tip of his makau had broken off! Lono tied another hook on his line and casted again. Once again, he felt a strong tug and pulled in his line only to find the tip broken off. This frustrated Lono being that these hooks took him a lot of time and skill to carve. After a third time of coming back broken, the enraged Lono dove into the ocean to investigate.
As Lono dives deep to the foundation, he finds a cave that he’s able to walk into that leads to a wondrous land filled with plants he has never seen. A man of a godly stature and a young woman stood in the middle of the greenery as if they were awaiting Lonoʻs arrival.
The man introduced himself as Kumuhonua and introduced his daughter, Hinakauō. Kumuhonua then introduced the ʻāina that they were at as Kanuʻupaʻa. Lono, still unsure if this was a dream, could see the broken ends of his fish hooks in Hinakauō’s hand.
At Kanuʻupaʻa there were many food crops, all of which were new to Lono. Everywhere he looked, a new plant caught his attention with strange fruit and leaves of every shape and color.
Kumuhonua told Lono that he brought him to Kanuʻupaʻa because he wanted to share the abundance of these foods and the knowledge on how to grow and mālama them. Overcome by all the new flavors he was experiencing, he gladly accepted.
Kumuhonua taught Lono about nutritious kalo and its many varieties. He taught him that it grows well in the lowlands but will also grow well in the uplands with the abundance of water. He explained that kalo corm matures in 9-18 months and can then be harvested, cooked and eaten as is or mashed and mixed with water to make poi. He explained that the stems and leaves can be cooked and eaten as well. He said that the juice from kalo helps to reduce fevers and that the stem leaf reduces swelling and pain from insect bites. He then showed Lono the keiki offspring and how to replant this crop so that he can provide sustenance for his people for generations.
Kumuhonua then exposed Lono to ʻuala. He explained that it grows underground off of a leafy vine and grows well in dry, sunny areas. He told Lono that the potatoes and young leaves can be cooked, mashed and eaten similar to the kalo. He explained that this plant aids in stomach sickness and breathing problems. Lono was then shown how to replant the vine slips so that he could nourish his people for generations.
Next, Lono was introduced to kō. He learned about how it grows tall and strong in rainy areas. He showed him that if grown in clumps, it can be used to protect smaller kalo and ʻuala from strong winds. Kumuhonua showed him how 1 stalk can be cut into smaller joints to multiply into many stalks year round and fully grow in 1-3 years. Chewing the stalk is sweet from natural sugars which helps give you an energy push, and it can be used to sweeten bitter foods and medicines. Chewing on the fibers of the stalk also helps to strengthen your gums.
Lono perked up at the sight of what he would learn is maiʻa. Kumuhonua shared that it grows well in high and low altitudes especially in moist valleys. He advised Lono that in times when his kalo and ʻuala arenʻt growing because of a drought,
maiʻa would be there to satisfy their hunger, especially with most varieties being able to pluck the plump fruit off of a bunch without needing to be cooked in an imu. The moisture filled stalk fruits once and then can be chopped down and used with its large leaves to help create steam and control the temperature of the imu.
Lastly, Kumuhonua gave an ʻapu of a special mixed drink to Lono that brought a calm, relaxing feeling to him. He said it was made from the roots of the ʻawa plant and explained that after a hard day’s work, this drink will relax the tension in the body as well as help ease headaches and induce sleep. He showed how the stems of the plant can be cut into pieces like the kō and replanted to multiply its supply and although this plant can live beyond a lifetime, it only takes 2-3 years to reach maturity.
After a month had passed and Lono had immersed himself in learning everything he could about cultivating these plants, it was time for him to return home to Keauhou. Kumuhonua and Hinakauō wanted Lono to bring these plants back with him so they gathered huli kalo, ʻuala slips, kō stalks, maiʻa sprouts and ʻawa nodes and told Lono to hold on tightly to them as he made his journey back to the ocean’s surface. Lono gave them his aloha once more before he left Kanuʻupaʻa.
Back at home, Lono followed all of the instructions he was given. He planted kalo in the lower wetlands, on streambanks as well as moist upland areas.
Lono planted Kō at Kauhakō and Kaʻawaloa and in other moist areas. He planted maiʻa up in the damp mountains.
And he planted ʻawa throughout dewy Kona valleys where the sun was scorching.
Lono taught his people how to farm these plants and after months had passed, their ʻāina was soon abundant with many types of food crops. The plants multiplied in its offshoots and flourished all throughout Hawaiʻi and for generations and generations to come, these foods kept Hawaiians well nourished up until this very day.
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.