(Ka) Manu ʻōʻō

The bird depicted here is the famous and extinct Hawaiʻi ʻōʻō (Moho nobilis). Also gone are its feathered friends of the same genus of endemic Hawaiian honeyeaters: the Molokai ʻōʻō (Moho bishopi; this species may have also occurred on Maui), the Oʻahu ʻōʻō (Moho apicalis) and the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō (Moho braccatus). These birds lived in moist montane forests where they fed on nectar, insects and larvae. In addition to being eaten they were highly prized for the tufts of yellow feathers that accented their otherwise black plumage. The feathers were used to make various ornaments, namely ʻahu ʻula (feather cloaks for royalty). Although many have blamed the extinction of the ʻōʻō on this practice, some experts say it played a minor role relative to other pressures, such as habitat destruction, rats, and disease (ʻōʻō were still quite common at the time of European contact). In Hawaiian bird-catching practices, the birds were often released after being caught and the desired feathers plucked. As one newspaper passage from 1861 notes, ʻōʻō were "...released to return to their nests, feed their young, and re-grow the feathers that had been taken" ("...a hookuu hou ia e hoi i kona punana e hanai i na keiki ana, a e hooulu hou i na hulu i huki ia." Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Helu 1, Okakopa).

He makeʻe melemele - A great affection for yellow.

Manō Kiaʻi

Hoʻokahi wale nō lā o ka malihini. He haʻawina nani kēia mai nā kūpuna mai a ua paʻa iā Kaʻehuikimanōopuʻuloa, keiki no ke awa uluiuli o Pānau i Hawaiʻi. Ma hope aku o ka hoʻokipa mahamaha ʻana o Kaʻahupāhau iā Kaʻehu a me kona mau hoa manō aliʻi, hōʻike ʻo ia i kona mahalo iā Kaʻahupāhau ma ka hoʻomake ʻana i kekahi manō ʻai kanaka e kolohe ana ma ia mau kaha. Iā Kaʻehu mā e haʻalele ana iā Puʻuloa, hiki akula i ke kūlana nalu ʻo Kalehuawehe, kahi i hālāwai ai me Pehu, he manō ʻai kanaka no Honokōhau i Maui. E ʻimi ana ʻo ia i "pāpaʻi" (kanaka) e kō ai ka ʻono o kona puʻu. Hoʻomeamea ʻāpiki aku ʻo Kaʻehu e kōkua ana ʻo ia iā Pehu ma ka hopu kanaka. Kiʻi aku naʻe ʻo Kaʻehu i kona mau hoa manō he lehulehu, a i ka wā e pae pū ai lākou i ka nalu me ke kanaka a Pehu i manaʻo ai e hopu aku, hoʻokuke aku lākou iā ia a alakaʻi hewa aku i ka māwae ʻākoʻakoʻa, kahi i paʻa ai kona poʻo a make loa ihola. He malihini ʻo Pehu no waho mai a ʻoiai he kolohe maoli ʻo ia, ʻaʻole i loaʻa iki kona lā hoʻokahi o ia kūlana. Ma hope o ka make ʻana, ʻokiʻoki ʻia ihola kona kino a loaʻa i loko ona ka lauoho a me ka iwi kanaka. Aia ma Peleʻula kahi i pupuhi ʻia ai kona kino i ke ahi a lilo i lehu. ʻO ka hopena nō kēia o nā manō ʻai kanaka he nui. Na ka manō kiaʻi o kēlā ʻāina, kēia ʻāina e pepehi i mea e palekana ai ke kanaka.

Remembering our place in the order of things is important, yet seems increasingly difficult for humans. Animals like manō (sharks) remind us how powerless we are when we enter their aqueous realm. There are manō who protect (manō kiaʻi and manō aliʻi) and manō who harm (manō ʻai kanaka - sharks that eat people). Each ʻāina had its own manō kiaʻi whose job was to protect the people from other manō entering those waters seeking to prey on them or cause trouble. Some manō kiaʻi were ʻaumākua (guardians) who were cared for daily by a family member, like Kaʻahupāhau, defender of Puʻuloa. Protectors versus predators is also one of the undeniable dynamics of the human experience. There have always been those who perpetuate violence and harm (whether physical, emotional, or spiritual) and those who seek to protect people and places from it. Kahalaopuna, the beauty from the Kahaukani wind and the Tuahine rain of Mānoa, died by the abusive hand of her kāne, Kauhi, who then took on the form of a manō ʻai kanaka. During her lifetime, she was a very skilled surfer who frequented the shores of Kou. When you surf Kalehuawehe, envision Kahalaopuna out in the lineup, upstaging Kauhi and Oʻahu chief Kākuhihewa as she expertly rides the best wave of the day without wetting her lei of lehua and ʻilima (he kāʻeʻaʻeʻa pulu ʻole nō). Also recall the manō kiaʻi who have defended that very break, like Kaʻahupāhau, Kahiʻukā and Kaʻehuikimanōopuʻuloa (his story on back).


Famous among our kūpuna for its delicious flavor, this little iʻa (fish) is still found in great abundance on our reefs today. A large school of manini feeding in an area is a beautiful sight - countless yellow-green bodies striped in black, glittering and flashing as they feast on the limu of the reef. At least five stages of this fish were named by our kūpuna (ʻōhua liko, ʻōhua kāniʻo, pala pōhaku, maninini, and manini). Keen observations over many makahiki (years) helped them to invent a myriad of brilliant fishing techniques. One of these was the building of an imu kai (also called an umu kai) - a heap of rocks stacked in a way that manini (and other small fish) could hide inside and over which a net could be easily thrown. Hō ke akamai! (So smart!). The stripes of this beautiful fish inspired someone to nickname it the "convict tang," but we donʻt find them criminal at all. Also identified by the Latin name Acanthurus triostegus, this species occurs throughout Polynesia.

Kuʻu imu ahi ʻole o ke kai - My fireless imu of the ocean. This ʻōlelo was inspired by an account of a riddling contest between two men named Okoe and Kamiki. The "imu manini" was one of several kinds of "imu" that Kamiki was challenged to figure out.


Our mokupuni (islands) are isolated gems in an azure sea - a sea that sets them far apart from other islands and continents. This isolation, in combination with mountains rising quick and high and prevailing weather from the northeast, means a plethora of unique habitats that are fairly close to one another. On this stage, explosive radiations of endemic species took place, i.e. the evolution of whole groups of plants from a single ancestor. Stenogyne is the Latin name given to the endemic Hawaiian genus of plants that inspired this design (Hawaiian names associated with this genus are māʻohiʻohi, puaʻainaka, and mōhihi). It is part of the "mint" family (Lamiaceae) that contains species with aromatic oils in them (think mint, basil, rosemary, lavender, etc.). These oils make them taste junk to grazers or other organism tempted to munch. However, the 21 species of Stenogyne are considered "mintless mints", i.e. they don't have the aromatic oils of the plants in some of the family's continental genera because the Hawaiʻi they evolved in had no grazers (hoofed animals were brought with humans). For this reason, their presence often signifies a very healthy ecosystem. Because these brambling herbaceous vines are like ice-cream to pigs, cows, deer, and goats, they are often some of the first species to be lost when these animals move in. They occur from dry alpine shrublands to wet forests, with the greatest diversity of species found on Maui and Hawaiʻi. In this design we chose to focus on their flowers, which are asymmetrical, light green to deep wine red, and have a dainty curve and a sweet demeanor. Wear them proudly, for they are found nowhere else in the world!

Manō kihikihi

There are three species of hammerhead sharks known to inhabit Hawaiian waters: the scalloped, the smooth, and the great hammerhead sharks. Hammerheads are some of the only sharks known to swim in schools outside of their breeding season. The birthing season for these impressive-looking creatures extends from Ikiiki to Hinaiaeleele (May to July). Mature females can have up to forty pups in a litter and fiercely defend their territories during this time. As ʻaumakua to some Hawaiian people and an important part of marine ecosystems, the manō kihikihi has unique cultural and biological value.


Also known as the white tern, or fairy tern, Gygis alba is an elegant seabird with white plumage and a distinctively long and pointy black beak. This species occurs in tropical areas of the world. It is common in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but considered threatened in the main Hawaiian islands. It is the official bird of the City and County of Honolulu. These birds often fly in pairs and nest nearly year round in Honolulu, with egg-laying beginning in January and reaching its height during March. They are one of the only native seabirds that you may see nesting in the downtown area, even near noisy construction sites! How's that for kūʻē (resistance) and ʻonipaʻa (steadfastness)? If on a waʻa (canoe), traveling between islands in the vast blue Pacific, you would probably be very happy to run into one of these beautiful white seabirds. Why? Because it is one of the signs that land is relatively close. It is as true today as it was for our

ancestors when they navigated the great expanse of Kanaloa.

He hōkū alakaʻi no ke ao - A guiding star of the day.


ʻO kā kākou iʻa ʻōlali nei he mālolo (Parexocoetus brachypterus), holo nō ma nā kai like ʻole o ka honua, a ua kapa ʻia no kona lele ʻana i luna o ka ʻilikai me ka niau aku i mea e pakele ai i nā iʻa nui e ake ana e ʻai iā ia. Ma kai hohonu e noho ai, ma ke kai mālolo hoʻi, i kapa ʻia pēlā e nā kūpuna i lawaiʻa i ua iʻa nei. He pāhoe ka inoa o ka ʻauwaʻa nāna i hoʻopuni i ka ʻāuna mālolo a laila ʻā akula ka poʻe i ka iʻa i loko o kahi ʻupena nui, he hano mālolo ke ʻano. Ma ke alu like ʻana, he ʻuā aku a he ʻuā mai ko luna o ka ʻauwaʻa a pēlā i loaʻa mai ai ka inoa kapakapa, ʻo "ka iʻa ʻuā lua." Eia hou, he mālolo ka mea lele mai kekahi ipo a kekahi ipo aku. Kamaʻāina paha ʻoe i ia ʻano kanaka: he naʻau hohonu, he waha mīkololohua, he ʻumeke kāʻeo nō hoʻi i komo ʻia e nā manamana he nui i miki ʻai na lākou. Na wai e ʻole ka nani o nei pūlelehua o ke kai? He ānai maka maoli kona kino pānanai me kona mau ʻēheu māliko. E like hoʻi me kona ʻano, niau wale aku nei mālolo ma luna o kā mākou lau no ka Nāulu, ke ao e halihali ana i ka wai ola mai Haleakalā a hiki loa aku i Kahoʻolawe. Lele ka mālolo me he manu lā - The mālolo fish flies like a bird.

Found throughout the world's oceans, flying fish (Parexocoetus brachypterus) are named for how they leap out of the water and fly in the air to escape predators. The deep ocean is their home, the kai mālolo, as it was named by our kūpuna who hauled them in by the hundreds after surrounding them with a whole fleet of canoes (pāhoe) and driving them into huge bag nets (hano mālolo). To coordinate the effort, people shouted back and forth, hence the moniker "ka iʻa ʻuā lua." A person known to jump from one lover to the next is likened to this slippery fish. You know, those deep, knowledgable types who are exceptional conversationalists, but can't be wrangled down? Their sleek, shiny bodies and beautiful transparent wings make these pūlelehua (butterflies) of the sea hard to resist, but if you accept their flighty nature, you might be just fine. In flying fish form, our mālolo spread their wings and glide over our design for the Nāulu cloud that carries moisture from leeward Haleakalā to Kahoʻolawe. Lele ka mālolo me he manu lā - The mālolo fish flies like a bird.


In the first wā of the Kumulipo, the limu manauea is born in the ocean and its land companion, the kalo manauea, comes to be on the ʻāina (land). This coupling contains the two elements that made up a complete meal in traditional times: ʻai and iʻa. ʻAi is kalo, poi, or other vegetable foods. Iʻa are accompaniments to ʻai: meat, fish, seaweed, salt, or anything from the land or sea that can serve as a "relish" (something savory to add flavor to your main fare). In other origin stories, kalo sprang from the place where the stillborn son of Wākea and Hoʻohokukalani was buried. This first child, Hāloa, is the kalo that has been tended daily throughout the generations, lovingly cultivated in loʻi (wetland fields) and māla (dryland patches) throughout the islands. We think of the kalo manauea that appears in the Kumulipo as that "wild" food stock our kūpuna could fall back on when there were problems with cultivated crops. According to kūpuna who have seen it, the hā (leaf stalk) of kalo manauea is a "dusky red" with slight yellow shading and its lau (leaf) is long and narrow. As an uncultivated variety, kalo manauea (aka maʻauea and mamauea) is not renowned for its flavor, but in times of famine, it could be collected in forests and other areas where it grew naturally.

He ʻai ko uka, he iʻa ko kai, ua kūʻonoʻono nō ka nohona - There is kalo on land and other foods in the ocean, the lifestyle is comfortable and prosperous.


Of the many things from which lei are fashioned, mokihana is perhaps one of the most unique both in shape and scent. Inside these peculiarly plump, cube-shaped fruits, the tang of orange meets the intensity of licorice and produces a fragrance so beautiful it is the stuff of poetry. The licorice scent is reflected in the plant's Latin name: Melicope anisata (anisata coming from the word anise - the thing that gives licorice its unique flavor). Mokihana has found its way into many mele (songs, poems, etc.) and is often a poetic reference to the island of Kauaʻi. Lei mokihana have also been described by composers as "poina ʻole" (unforgettable), perhaps because the fruits can only be procured in the mountains of Kauaʻi (in wet to mesic forests at 1200 - 4000 ft.), making this type of lei a gift to remember. Or maybe it is the fact that a lei mokihana will keep its fragrance long after the fruits have dried (sometimes for years), causing the receiver of the lei to recall fond memories with each inhalation of its aroma. These thoughts inspired the ʻōlelo on this shirt: ʻAʻala mokihana i ka nuʻu - Mokihana fragrance in the heights. There are actually 47 Hawaiian species of Melicope. The group is commonly referred to as alani, but several species have unique names (mokihana, uahiapele, leiohiʻiaka, etc.). The leaves of some of these other species are very fragrant when crushed and were used to impart a pleasing scent to kapa.


The harshness of the summer sun abates, the temperature begins to cool down, the winter rains arrive, and Makaliʻi rises out of the eastern horizon marking the beginning of makahiki. The constellation Makaliʻi, known to some as Pleiades, sits in a larger star line named Ke kā o Makaliʻi - the bailer of Makaliʻi. This is one of four main star lines by which Hawaiians navigate the pacific ocean. Ka ʻupena ʻai kau i ka lani - the food net placed in the sky - references a story told by Mary Kawena Pukui. In this version, a mean chief gathers up all the food plants on earth into a large net and hangs it in the sky, causing everyone to be hungry. The ʻiole (rat) says that even though he is the smallest creature he might be able to help. So he climbs the highest place he can find, jumps onto a rainbow, and from there leaps into the net in the heavens. He chews around the bottom of the net and the food falls back to earth. This explains why sometimes food plants are seen growing in faraway, out of reach places.

Explore Another Letter