Pa'ao and Lonopele
Samuel M. Kamakau and Others
Drawing Below: Stormy seas, from
Peter Buck's Vikings of the
a priest, Makuaka'umana a prophet, Pilika'aiea a chief coming after
La'au-ali'i in the genealogy of Hema. They were from Wawau [Borabora] and 'Upolo
[Taha'a] and islands to the west. Ka'akoheo was the sea-cliff from
which they departed; and Malaia was the mountain ridge in 'Upolo where
the grass (mau'u) grew which Pa'ao brought with him to Hawai'i. (A sister
of Pa'ao who came to Hawai'i with him was named Na-mau'u-Malaia, or "The grass of
Conflict with Lonopele
Pa'ao left his birthplace because of a quarrel with his older brother Lonopele, who was a
kahuna, a man of mana (supernatural power), very
intelligent, with knowledge of everything of concern to a kahuna. Both
were farmers. Lonopele cultivated his land near the seashore with sweet
potato, taro, banana, and other fruitful plants. Once all the fruit was
stolen and he believed Pa'ao's son was the thief. He went to his brother
and told him, "Your son has stolen all my fruit."
Pa'ao said: "Are you sure my son is the thief?"
Lonopele replied: "I saw him in my field. I didn't see him taking the fruit, but I believe he is guilty."
"If that's so," Paao replied, "I'll cut open his stomach and find the evidence. But if your fruit is not there, then what?"
Lonopele replied: "What you do is up to you. If you cut open your son's stomach, that's your affair."
Pa'ao answered: "I'll cut open his stomach, and if fruit is found, you are
right; if not, you are wrong." Pa'ao caught his son and cut open his
stomach. No fruit was found. Then he told Lonopele to look and see.
Lonopele declined: "You're the one who should look into your son's
Pa'ao was full of grief over of his son's death. He said to his
brother: "I'll find a way to kill your son. Then I will leave this
Pa'ao ordered his men to build a double-hulled voyaging canoe. His
kalaiwa'a (canoe carvers) hollowed out logs, carved the fittings, lashed
and rigged the canoe, and painted the canoe black. The canoe was
well-made. He placed a kapu on it: no one was to touch it until the lolo
sacrifice was offered to insure a safe voyage.1
The kapu had been established for some time when the son of Lonopele came
along and slapped on the sides of the canoes. Pa'ao heard the sound and
told his servants to find out who it was. They reported that the son of
Lonopele was slapping the sides of the canoe. Pa'ao commanded them to
kill the boy, which was done. Then the sacrifice to the canoe was made
and the kapu was lifted. Pa'ao took the body and placed it under the
supporting block at the stern of the canoe. After a few days Lonopele came
to the canoe shed, greatly troubled, trying to find his son who, he
feared, was lost.
Lonopele admired the fine finish of the canoe. While looking it over
carefully from end to end, he noticed flies buzzing under the stern. He
searched and found the corpse of his son and knew the boy had been
murdered. He was sick with sorrow for his son and wailed grievously.
Crazed with anger against Pa'ao, he said: "You've done a crazy thing, O
Pa'ao! You've killed my son. You waited for an opportunity to take his
life. Go! Leave this land, for you are an evil man!" With a mournful
song, Lonopele carried his son's corpse away.2
Voyage to Hawai'i
Pa'ao loaded his canoe with food, water, and supplies for an ocean voyage. The name given his canoe was
Kanaloa-a-muia. [Or Ka-nalo-a-muia, "the swarming of flies."]
Forty paddlers boarded the canoes. Also on board were two stewards
(kanaka 'aipu'upu'u); the chief Pilika'aiea and his wife Hina-au-kekele
called Hina-'au-aku); and Pa'ao'sister Na-mau'u-o-malaia. Pa'ao was the
Maka'alawa, the kilo-hoku (astronomer and navigator); Holau, the
Pu'ole'ole, the conch shell blower; Nu'u and Holawa, the 'awa chewers.
Pa'ao was consecrated for this voyage to find new land (ka holo ana e
'aina). When everyone was ready to sail, Pa'ao stood on the canoe while
some prophets were standing on the Ka'akoheo cliff. One called to him,
Pa'ao! Let me go with you!"
Pa'ao asked, "Who are you?"
He replied: "I am a prophet."
"What is your name?"
"Lelekoa'e ("Leaping tropic bird") is my name."
Pa'ao called to him: "Leap onto the canoe."
Lelekoa'e leaped and fell on the stones below and died. Then Pa'ao tested the powers of one prophet after
another�Maku'epali, 'Ohuku-pali, Kikaha-pali and so on, but all of them failed and fell to their deaths.
Pa'ao sailed on and was nearly out of sight of land; only one cliff
be seen above the horizon behind him. A prophet stood there and called,
"O Pa'ao, Let me go with you!" He called two or three times before
Pa'ao heard the voice, a faint whisper in the wind.
When Pa'ao looked back and saw a person standing on the brink of the
cliff, he called out, "Who are you?"
The man replied, "A prophet."
"What is your name?"
Pa'ao cried out: "The canoe is full, there is but one place left, on the momoa (a projection at the stern)."
"That's my place."
"Then leap!" The prophet flew like a bird, landed on the momoa, and
grabbed onto the manu (an upturned piece covering the stern). He called
out: " Here I am, where is my place on the canoe?"
"On the pola (platform between the two hulls)."
Thus, the prophecy of Kalaikuahulu concerning the prophet Makuaka'umana was fulfilled:
A fragile-tailed fish am I,
Moving swiftly before the heavens,
Travelling the dark, dark ocean
That roars at Halekumukalani.
I am the man, Makuaka'umana,
The prophet who traveled the islands,
Who circled the Pillars of Kahiki,
Who leapt and sat on Kaulia (a perching place).
When Pa'ao's canoe was out on the ocean, his brother Lonopele tried to
sink the canoe. He sent the stormy south winds Konaku, Kona-nui-a-niho, Kona-moe, and
Kona-ho'apuku, and the gusty winds, the gales, and the
stormy winds of Ho'oilo. But Pa'ao had mats to cover his hulls and keep
the water out. While the wind was blowing fiercely with much rain, and the
waves ran high, two kinds of fish, the aku and the 'opelu, gathered in the
waters and quieted the waves. The Kona storms died down. Because of this
help, both these fish were made kapu to the Pa'ao family and their
Lonopele looked out and saw that Pa'ao had not been destroyed, so he
the cold northerly winds�Ho'olua, Malualua, Kiu, Waikoloa, and
Makanihaunone, but the hulls were covered with mats to keep the water
out and did not sink. Lonopele then sent a large bird,
Kikaha-'iwa�ina-pali, to defecate on the canoe and sink it. But the
mats again protected the canoe.
Pa'ao landed in Puna, Hawai'i and built his first heiau as a temple for his god and named the heiau
Aha'ula. It was a luakini heiau (a temple for human sacrifice).
From Puna Pa'ao went to Kohala, landing at Pu'uepa where he built the luakini heiau called
Mo'okini. It was thought that Pa'ao came in the time of the high chief
La'auali'i, because Pili became the ruling chief of Hawaii after La'auali'i in the genealogy
of Hanala'anui. The island of Hawai'i was without a chief, and so a chief
was brought from Kahiki.3
This version of the story of Pa'ao has been compiled from Thrum's More
Hawaiian Folk Tales (46-52); N.B. Emerson's "Long Voyages of the
Ancient Hawaiians"; and Kamakau's Tales and Tradtions of the People of
Old (3-5; 97-100). Another version of the Pa'ao tradition appears in
Laura Green's Folk-tales from Hawai'i (120�124); the story was told in
Hawaiian to Mary Kawena Pukui by Mrs. Kanuikaikaina of Hilo,
Hawai'i; it was translated by Miss Green.
Mrs. Kanuikaikaina begins: "Two brothers, Pa'ao and Lonopele, were
priests of the gods Ku and Lono in
'Upolo, Samoa. Pa'ao was the priest of Ku-ka'ili-moku, who later became
the war-god of Kamehmameha I, as "Ku-snatcher of islands."
According to Kamakau, Kuka'ilimoku "was made of fine, soft feathers
the forehead of Kiwa'a. Kiwa'a was slain by Wai-kele-nui-a-iku after he
had been carried away by the bird. These feathers from its forehead
were sacred feathers called
Hina-wi-koli'i. They flew to the lap of Namaka-o-kaha'i. These feathers
acquired mana and became
Kuka'ilimoku" (Kamakau 3). Kuka'ilimoku eventually was passed down
through through the ruling chiefs of the island of Hawai'i�through
Liloa, 'Umi a Liloa, and Keawenui a 'Umi to Kamehameha the First, who
conquered and united the islands of
Hawai'i. This god demanded human sacrifice. Aha'ula heiau later became
known as Waha'ula ("Red Mouth"), perhaps because of the human
sacrifices laid there to
The lolo sacrifice for consecrating and lifting the
kapu on a canoe so
it could pass from the carver to the owner involved prayers and
offerings to the canoe gods. Malo says pig, red fish, and coconuts were
the offering "spread out before the
129). Kamakau says the symbolic foods were pig and dog, the "pig
symbolizing the 'rooting' ('eku) of the canoe into the open sea and the
dog the 'tearing apart' (hae aku) of the billows of the ocean. Sweet
potatoes and taro were the vegetable foods" (Works 121-122). The
Pukui-Elbert Dictionary (1986) defines lolo as "brains" and explains
it was a religious ceremony "at which the brain of the sacrficed animal
was eaten (such ceremonies occurred at a canoe launching, start of
journey, completion of instruction)," apparently to signify completion.
The Kanuikaikaina version of this tradition gives a
account of the quarrel between the two brothers: "Pa'ao and Lonopele
had a son, and their pranks often led to quarrels between the fathers.
day, Lonopele's son entered the temple and stole a bit of the food
placed for the sacrifice. Lonopele accused Pa'ao's son of the theft. A
few days later, Lonopele's son stole more of the sacrifice and his
father seized Pa'ao's son and had him put to death. Pa'ao was deeply
grieved and in his heart he knew that Lonopele's son was at fault. He
and was rewarded by seeing him run out of the temple with a bit of the
offering in his hand. Then Pa'ao put Lonopele's son to death and hid
his body under a canoe. For days Lonopele looked for his son and when
at last he found him, he ordered his younger
brother to depart and seek a new home."
Emerson writes that Hawai'i island had been without
ali'i for a long time; those that ruled Hawai'i were ali'i maka'ainana
(royalty with the blood of commoners intermixed through marriage), or
commoners, maka'ainana. Thus, Pilika'aiea, of pure ali'i blood, became
the ruler of the island. Pa'ao became his high priest. He established a
strict religious system, introducing to Hawai'i the custom of
kapu-o (prostration), the puloulou (a royal insignia marking off a kapu
area), and the walled heiau (previously, heiau had been open
The Kanuikaikaina version gives the following ending:
Pa'ao landed at Puna on the island of Hawai'i. There Pa'ao built the
temple of Aha-'ula, or "Red-assembly," so named because of the red
feather cloaks worn by the god Ku-kaili-moku and the other gods. He
left priests here to care for the temple and to cover the lava rock
with soil brought in pandanus baskets from the hill country, to plant
rare trees and dig a well, so making an oasis in that desert place.
The priests kindled a fire in the temple grounds, which was consecrated
their gods and kept burning night and day. Whatever man the smoke of
that fire fell upon, whether high or low in rank, became a sacrifice to
the gods. Hence the name of that temple was changed to Waha-'ula,
"Red-mouth," because it devoured men.
Pa'ao went to Paka'alana in the Hamakua district of Hawaii, where he
another temple. Here he left two white stones which were worshipped by
the inhabitants of that district, especially by the high chief, Liloa.
Pa'ao saw how the chiefs, or ali'i, had sinned by intermarriage with
commoners, thus diluting the sacred blood.
[The chief of Hawai'i at that time was Kapawa (Fornander, Vol. IV,
22-23).] Pa'ao sailed back to Tahiti and brought a chief and his family
from there to restore the ancient rank of chiefs in Hawai'i. This chief
was Piliaoao, ancestor of Kamehameha 1st.
[According to Fornander (Vol. IV, 22-23), the chieftainship was first
offered to Lonokaeho, who was invited to come to Hawai'i to rule by
Makuaka'umana, the singing-priest of Pa'ao's expedition:
O Lono! Lono! Lonokaeho!
Lonokulani, ali'i of Kauluonana,
Here are the canoes, come aboard
Return with us to live in green-backed Hawai'i
A land discovered in the ocean,
Thrown up amid the waves
From the very depths of Kanaloa
The white coral jagged in the water
Caught on the hook of the fisherman
The great fisherman of Kapa'ahu
The great fisherman of Kapuhe'euanu'u-la
When the canoes land, come aboard,
Sail to rule Hawai'i, an island,v
Hawai'i is an island,
Hawai'i is an island
For Lonokaeho to live on.
E Lono! e Lono e! e Lonokaeho!
Lonokulani, ali'i o Kauluonana,
Eia na wa'a, kau mai
E hoi e noho ia Hawai'i-kua-uli
He 'aina loaa i ka moana
I hoea mai loko o ka ale
I ka halehale Poi pu a Kanaloa
He koakea i halelo i ka wai
I lau i ka makau a ka lawa'ia
A ka lawai'a nui o Kapa'ahu
A ka lawai'a nui o Kapuhe'euanu'u-la
A pae na wa'a, kau mai;
E holo e ai ia Hawai'i, he moku;
He moku Hawai'i
He moku Hawai'i
No Lonokaeho e noho.
Lonokaeho refused the chiefship and proposed Piliaoao (or Pili-Ka'aiea).]
Pa'ao set up Piliaoao as the highest ruler on Hawai'i and served as his
kahuna until Pili's death. Pa'ao's son served the son of Piliaoao, and
on for succeeding generations. Hewahewa, who was high priest in the
of Kamehameha 1st, was a descendant of Pa'ao and in 1819 when King
Liholiho broke the tabu, Hewahewa was the first man to apply the torch
to the King's temple and reduce his ancestral gods to ashes.