The Kamakau Legend
Note: Mauka of Honolulu rises a cloud-capped range. Beyond this is the place where Kamakau, a native historian of about sixty years ago, says that the Hawaiian gods created the first inhabitants of these islands. The story has been repeated in several Hawaiian papers and with embellishments, was adopted by Judge Fornander and mentioned in notes in his work “The Polynesian Race.” Parts of the story are evidently old Hawaiian, but the part which describes the creation of man is thoroughly Biblical with the addition of a few touches of the imagination.
“The sky is established.
The earth is established.
Fastened and fastened,
Entangled in obscurity,
Near each other a group of islands
Spreads out like a flock of birds.
Leaping up are the divided places.
Lifted far up are the heavens.
Polished by striking,
Lamps rest in the sky.
Presently the clouds move,
The great sun rises in splendor,
Mankind arises to pleasure,
The moving sky is above.” Hawaiian Chant.
Ku, Ka-ne, Lono and Kanaloa were the first gods made.
The gods had come from far-off unknown lands. They brought with them the mysterious people who live in precipices and trees and rocks. These were the invisible spirits of the air.
The earth was a calabash. The gods threw the calabash cover upward and it became the sky. Part of the thick “flesh” became the sun. Another part was the moon. The stars came from the seeds.
The gods went over to a small island called Mokapu, and thought they would make man to be chief over all other things. Mololani was the crater hill which forms the little island. On the sunrise side of this hill, near the sea, was the place where red dirt lay mixed with dark blue and black soil. Here Ka-ne scratched the dirt together and made the form of a man.
Kanaloa ridiculed the mass of dirt and made a better form, but it did not have life. Ka-ne said, “You have made a dirt image; let it become stone.”
Then Ka-ne ordered Ku and Lono to carefully obey his directions. They were afraid he would kill them, so at once they caught one of the spirits of the air and pushed it into the image Ka-ne had made.
When the spirit had been pushed into the body, Ka-ne stood by the image and called, “Hiki au-E-ola! E-ola!” (“I come, live! live!”)
Ku and Lono responded “Live! live!” Then Ka-ne called again, “I come, awake! awake!” and the other two responded, “Awake! awake!” and the image became a living man.
Then Ka-ne cried, “I come, arise! arise!” The other gods repeated, “Arise! arise!” and the image stood up—a man with a living spirit. They named him Wela-ahi-lani-nui, or “The great heaven burning hot.”
They chanted, giving the divine signs attending the birth of a chief:
Note: Fornander, in his book “The Polynesian Race,” says that Lono brought whitish clay from the four ends of the world, with which to make the head, but there is no foundation for this statement in the legends. This must have been a verbal statement made to him by Kamakau.
“The stars were burning.
Hot were the months.
Land rises in islands,
High surf is like mountains,
Pele throws out her body (of lava).
Broken masses of rain from the sky,
The land is shaken by earthquakes,
Ikuwa reverberates with thunder.”
The gods took this man to their home and nourished him. When he became strong he went out to walk around the home of the gods. Soon he noticed a shadow going around with his body. It walked when he walked, and rested when he rested. He wondered what this thing was, and called it “aka,” or “shadow.”
When he slept, Ku, Ka-ne and Lono tore open his body, and Ka-ne took out a woman, leaving Ku and Lono to heal the body. Then they put the woman by the side of the man and they were alike.
Wela-ahi-lani-nui woke and found a beautiful one lying by him, and thought: “This is that thing which has been by my side, my aka. The gods have changed it into this beautiful one.” So he gave her the name “Ke-aka-huli-lani” (The-heaven-changed-shadow). These were the ancestors of the Hawaiians and all the peoples of the islands of the great ocean.
It must be remembered that there are many other Hawaiian legends which mention other first men and women as ancestors of the Hawaiian people.