So essential was the ocean to the survival of ka poʻe Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian people) that they divided and named it with beautiful intricacy. Mary Kawena Pukui used the term "nā papakū o ka moana" when talking with kūpuna about how Hawaiians had names for so many different parts or depths of the sea, each one having its own unique function in their lives. Many of the divisions are named for what is done there (surfing, catching crabs, netting uhu, etc.). Some are named for their unique color or character. Others have connections to akua and the Hawaiian view of the physical world. On this garment you will find one or more of the ocean divisions we chose to depict, based on the descriptions of Samuel Kamakau: kuaʻau ("surf-riding sea"), kai kea ("white sea" beyond the surf break), kai hī aku (the dark blue sea where aku are pulled in and mālolo are also caught), and kai pōpolohua mea a Kāne ("the purplish-blue reddish-brown sea of Kāne" - the deep ocean). Wiliau refers to the currents that move through the ocean. These traditional divisions give us a valuable window into the worldview and lifestyle of our kūpuna. They also provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the many ways this vast realm of Kanaloa still sustains us today.
Nā Papakū o Ka Moana
Hawaiʻi has roughly 25 species of endemic damselflies (Megalagrion sp.). The beautiful red pinao ʻula is the one shown on this shirt. These delicate little damselflies breed in streams, pools, waterfall spaces, damp fern litter and in the leaf axils of some plants. Their immature form is aquatic and is heavily impacted by introduced stream species. They are predatory feeders whose like to grind other small insects. The largest pinao are roughly 60 millimeters in length. Their presence is a sign of a healthy Hawaiian ecosystem. ʻUla nōweo kuʻu pinao lā - My little pinao is a bright scarlet red.
Paʻimalau | Pololia
Almost every kid from Hawaiʻi has had the experience of being stung by the infamous Portuguese Man o' war, or paʻimalau in Hawaiian. The searing tendrils that leave the skin red and welted are not just put there to torture you. These venomous tentacles are used to trap and paralyze prey (small fish and plankton) or fend off attackers. They are one of four "polyps" that come together as a colony (the other polyps handle functions like movement and reproduction) to form a single individual. The funny blue bubble we quickly identify on windward beaches is a gas-filled bladder called a pneumatophore. It acts like a sail to catch the wind, helping them to move (along with tides and currents). Paʻimalau stings can be anywhere from annoying to life threatening (in the case of a serious allergic reaction), depending on the person. There are two species of paʻimalau that occur in Hawaiian waters: Physalia utriculus (found in the Indian and Pacific oceans) and P. physalis (occurs throughout the world's oceans). The
pololia (jellyfish) on this shirt is a member of the genus Thysanostoma and is native to the Hawaiian Islands. It is a true jellyfish, or Scyphozoan, meaning it is bell or saucer shaped and has tentacles and/or oral arms that deliver a sting. The bell is used for self-propulsion and the oral arms for feeding (it eats basically the same kine stuff as the paʻimalau). These elusive, deep-water jellyfish are rarely seen, so consider yourself lucky if you spot one. The ʻōlelo below speaks to the stinging ability of both the paʻimalau and the pololia - an experience you are likely to remember. Ka ʻiniki welawela kuni i ka ʻili - The piercing hot pinch that brands the skin.
He kahuna lāʻau lapaʻau ʻo Kamakanuiʻāhaʻilono i hele mai ma hope o kekahi mau kānaka no Kahiki mai nāna i lawe mai i nā maʻi hou i Hawaiʻi nei. Na lākou lā ka make, na ia nei nō hoʻi ke ola. Iā ia nei e huakaʻi hele ana ma Hawaiʻi moku, hiki akula i Kiolakaʻa, he ʻāina mahiʻai no ke aliʻi, no Lono. Nānā akula ʻo Kamakanuiʻāhaʻilono i ke aliʻi a ʻike akula i kona kūlana maʻi, haʻi akula i kekahi mahiʻai. I lohe aku ka hana a Lono, wela ana kona huhū. Kaʻikaʻi aʻela ʻo ia i ka ʻōʻō, hoʻowahāwahā i ka ʻōlelo a ke kanaka, a i kona pahu hou ʻana i lalo, ua kū kona wāwae, puka ka ʻōʻō i lalo o ke kapuaʻi, a kaheāwai ke koko. Maʻule ihola ʻo Lono a holo akula nā kānaka, alualu ma hope o Kamakanuiʻāhaʻilono. Nonoi akula lākou e hoʻi mai ʻo ia, kōkua i ke aliʻi. Ma kona hoʻi ʻana mai, pūʻili pū ʻo ia i ka hua ʻōpiopio a me ka lau o ka pōpolo i loko o kona kīhei. Kuʻikuʻi ihola ʻo ia me ka paʻakai, wahī akula i ka ʻaʻa niu, a kau ihola ma ka wāwae ʻeha o Lono. Ia pō a ao aʻe, pau ke kahe ʻana o ke koko. I loko o ʻelua a ʻekolu paha pule, kū a hele ʻo Lono. Ia wā, haʻalele akula ʻo Kamakanuiʻāhaʻilono no kekahi ʻāina. Iā ia e nanea ana i ka hele, ʻimi akula ʻo Lono iā ia me ka hōʻike aku i kona haʻalele ʻana i ka mahiʻai a me kona ʻiʻini e aʻo i ka lāʻau lapaʻau. Wahi a ua Kamakanuiʻāhaʻilono nei, “Hāmama mai kō waha.” Kuha akula ʻo ia i loko o ka waha o Lono a i komo aku ka hāʻae, komo pū akula ka ʻike. Ua kapa ʻia kona inoa ʻo Lonopūhā (no ka ʻeha o kona wāwae) a lilo aʻela ʻo ia ka haumāna lāʻau lapaʻau mua o Hawaiʻi nei.
One of the most powerful plants in our culture, pōpolo is rooted deep in our history. Farmer chief Lono put his ʻōʻō (digging stick) through his foot and was healed with pōpolo. He then became Lonopūhā, the first student of lāʻau lapaʻau (healing arts). Pōpolo is also used for coughs, burns, broken bones and more. Crushed leaves are placed on a baby’s manawa (fontanel) to keep it from closing too soon, as babies are fed both physically and spiritually through this opening. (Pōpolo is a very strong lāʻau, so seek the advice of experienced practitioners). Of the four native species of pōpolo, Solanum americanum was likely the most widely used. Hinihini (cooked pōpolo greens) was a staple vegetable and was even dehydrated to take on voyages (pīkaʻo pōpolo). A great voyage to Kahiki brought food plants back to Hawaiʻi after Haumea, angered by the kidnapping of her granddaughter, took all food and returned to Nuʻumealani. She left only kī and pōpolo for her attendants on Maunawili, foods they shared with others during this great famine. Voyagers used the term “moana kai pōpolo” for the deep dark ocean, a reference to the deep purple of the ʻolohua (pōpolo berries). We celebrate this beautiful ocean reference along with the use of the word pōpolo to refer to dark skin. The most precious offerings to the akua were always those of a dark or black color, reminding us of our connection to pō, the generative darkness that creates our universe. The endemic & endangered Solanum nelsonii is the species featured in this design. Ola mau ʻo Lonopūhā - Lonopūhā lives on through healing.
Pūpū ʻAlā Textile
There are over 600 species of cone shells in the world, most found in the warm seas of the tropics. Known for their fabulous patterns and geometrically pleasing shape, cone shells are popular and heavily collected. Featured in this design is one of our favorite species, Conus textile. Pūpū ʻalā is a generic term for cone shells, but a Hawaiian name for this particular species is unknown. This shell has a yellowish brown color with undulating lines of chocolate brown and clusters of small white triangular shapes that look like families of puʻu (hills). Textile cones are not so easy to find, so consider yourself lucky if you find one of the beauties rolling around at the ʻae kai (water's edge). Cone shells range in size (the biggest types reach 9 inches!), but all are predatory carnivores capable of delivering a venomous sting with a harpoon-like structure. Some can be dangerous or even fatal to humans, yet many collectors are willing to risk a sting to harvest them live. We do not advocate this practice. Instead, we enjoy looking for cones that have no resident animal. Many avid shellers in Hawaiʻi have special love for puka shells - the broken off spires (tops) of cone shells that usually have a puka (hole) worn in them, or drilled in them by a hungry heʻe (octopus).
Species that are some of the first to grow on barren lava have to be hearty and drought tolerant. Pāʻūohiʻiaka (Jacquemontia ovalifolia, subsp. sandwicensis) is one such plant. This endemic subspecies is a coastal dwelling herbaceous vine found on all the islands. It is very attractive with its small oval leaves and star-shaped pale blue to white flowers. The color and shape of these delicate blossoms is reminiscent of its cousins, the ʻuala and the koali (other members of the family Convulvulaceae). The fine hairs on its leaves help to retain moisture in the harsh, high exposure environments it calls home. It can form dense mats that cover large areas. Maybe that is why it was the perfect plant to grow over young Hiʻiaka and protect her from the sun as she slept on the beach while her older sister, Pele, was out surfing (or fishing, as other versions of the story go), earning it the name "skirt of Hiʻiaka" (also kākuaohiʻiaka and kaupoʻo). This story is the impetus behind the ʻōlelo Hīkākā mai nō ā malu kuʻu ʻili - Spread like vines over me till my skin is shaded/protected. Hawaiians made medicine from the leaves and stems of this plant to treat thrush in babies among other conditions. Today, it is popular in landscaping, as it is easy to propagate from cuttings, requires little water, and grows quickly.
Pua aloalo (Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo)
He Onaona no ka Pua Aloalo
Kuʻu wehi ʻaʻala o ka uka o Makaua
Kahi a ka ua e hoʻoheno mau ai
E hāliʻi aku ana i ke alo o Papa
Me he kapa hau anu, anoano hoʻi ē
Hāliʻaliʻa wale ka manaʻo aloha
I ka pūnana onaona he hoa pili nō
Hāloʻiloʻi ka wai luʻuluʻu o luna
Hiohiolo wale ka pua o ka waimaka
E kuʻu makamaka i ka poli o ka nahele
I nā kīpolipoli o ka uka huʻi ē
ʻElua kāua i ke aloha i ka mauna
ʻEkolu i ke ʻala pua aloalo lā ē
My scented adornment of the Makaua uplands
Where the rain always comes to caress
Covering the face of Papahānaumoku
Like a blanket of white snow in the silence
The thoughts return with affection
To the nest of fragrance that is a dear friend
The sorrowful waters above pool up
Tears fall like tumbling blossoms
My dear companion in the bosom of the forest
In the nooks and crannies of the cold uplands
We are two in our love for the mountain
Three with the sweet fragrance of the pua aloalo
Much like the deep delight and mahalo one feels when coming upon a large ʻieʻie bramble or an untrammeled patch of palapalai, walking under a grove of pua aloalo trees in full bloom is a surreal experience. The ground is littered with white blossoms, like fallen stars or delicate whitecaps on a dark ocean. Before you see the grove, a wall of scent hits you first, as Hibiscus arnottianus is one of very few fragrant species of Hibiscus in the world. Their unmistakable ʻala (fragrance) is both sweet and fresh. Also called kokiʻo keʻokeʻo, this species is found on O‘ahu, in both the Ko‘olau and Wai‘anae ranges (not to be confused with its very similar cousin Hibiscus waimeae on Kauaʻi, or the all white h. arnottianus subsp. immaculatus on Molokai). These blossoms have firm white petals and bright pink sexual parts that command attention. Like hau and other plants in the Malvaceae ʻohana, they have wale (slime), so they are consumed by wahine hāpai (pregnant women) to help ease delivery. Tear the petals off into your salad for a tasty treat. Pua aloalo likes to grow in wet to mesic forests, often forming groves near streams. Unfortunately these habitats are increasingly more compromised, with alien plants and animals encroaching and causing damage. Supporting conservation efforts that mālama the habitat of these beautiful trees will help ensure the continued health of wild populations. He pua aloalo ‘a‘ala e - A fragrant hibiscus flower.
Pūpū Combo: Leho & ʻAlā
E ka pūpū popohe poepoe wale o luna, nihoniho nani o lalo, hinuhinu a hulali hoʻi ke ʻike aku, ʻo kou uʻi nō ka mea o ka hoʻoheno ʻana aʻe o nei lima kākau. Kau aku ka manaʻo i ka lima o ka lehua e hoʻohula ana iā ʻolua o kāu kāne pōhaku i pili paʻa i ke ʻapo aloha i mea e hoʻolalelale aku ai i ka heʻe e honi mai. Mai nō a manaʻo ʻo ka lūheʻe wale nō ke kumu e makemake ai ka poʻe iā ʻoe, e ka leho luhiehu, lalau nō hoʻi ka lima o ke kuku kapa iā ʻoe e kahi aku ai i ke kapa a malino a pau ka minomino. Minamina wale kā hoʻi ke emi ʻana o kou mau lāhui ma nā kai o Hawaiʻi nei a no kai heʻe nō ke kanaka e hōʻole ana i ke kaumaha o ia mea. Me kēnā nō hoʻi ke kūlana o ka pūpū ʻalā (kekahi iʻa o nei lau). Nani mīkohukohu nō ke nānā aku i kona iwi ʻōniʻoniʻo, weliweli wale nō naʻe ke puka mai kona ʻō lāʻau ʻino e pale aku ai i ka hoa paio e ʻimi ana e ʻai iā ia. ʻO ka heʻe nō kekahi iʻa e makaleho aku, e hopu aku hoʻi a wili i puka ma luna o kona iwi e unuhi ai i ka iʻa ma loko i mea e hialaʻai ai kona waha a e ola ai hoʻi kona kino. Lilo nō he pūpū "puka" ke haki ʻo luna a hemo aʻe. Hoʻopae ʻia maila nō e ke kai a ʻohiʻiho ʻia akula e ka poʻe e kui ʻia i lei nani, pali nō hoʻi i ka ʻāʻī.
The gorgeously feminine leho (cowry) with its beautifully plump and round decorated top, and its toothed slit on the bottom side pretty much screams out sexy. The most famous use of this shell by our kūpuna was in lūheʻe (octopus lures). The male pōhaku (stone) and the female leho, locked in a lover's embrace, dance via the skilled hand of the fisherman to seduce the heʻe (octopus) which becomes so aroused that it must "honi" (kiss) the shell, and when it does, the fisherman yanks firmly upward, lodging the kākala (hook) into the heʻe. Prized lūheʻe were often named for an ancestor in a family and handed down. Hawaiʻi boasts 35 species of leho, nine of which are endemic and many species belonging to the genera Cypraea and Lyncia. Also featured in this design is one of our favorite cone shell species, Conus textile. Pūpū ʻalā is a generic term for cone shells, but a Hawaiian name for this particular species is unknown. Yellowish brown with undulating chocolate lines, this shell also has clusters of small white triangular shapes that look like families of puʻu (hills). These shells are predatory carnivores with a harpoon-like structure capable of delivering a venomous sting that can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal to humans. Many people in Hawaiʻi have special love for puka shells, which are the broken off spires (tops) of cone shells that usually have a puka (hole) worn in them or drilled in by a hungry heʻe.
Palai & Palai a Kamapuaʻa
This gorgeous endemic fern is one of many endangered plant species in Hawaiʻi. It's Latin name is Microsorum spectrum. Spectrum means vision or apparition, recalling the frond's unassuming beauty. Catching a glimpse of one is not easy, as they are very rare. Should you be out in the wet to mesic forests on any of the major islands looking for these elusive beauties, keep in mind that they tend to spread in a creeping, vine-like fashion, or grow as a ground cover. Called lauaʻe on Kauaʻi, this species is often confused with an introduced fern (Phymatosorus grossus) used commonly in lei and for other purposes, and called by the same name. The true lauaʻe (peʻahi on other islands) is sweetly scented and was used in lei making. The Makana area of Kauaʻi is famous for the luxuriant growth and softly sweet scent of lauaʻe. One of the meanings of peʻahi is to wave or beckon, as these exquisite emeralds of the forest do. Ke ani peʻahi maila me he ipo lā - Beckoning like a lover.
Like many Hawaiian words, the term pua has several meanings. Although most people know it to be a flower, it is also used poetically to refer to the offspring or descendants of humans, as in the popular expression "kuʻu pua" (my dear child) heard in so many Hawaiian songs. Elen Prendegast's well known anti-annexation mele "Kaulana Nā Pua" (Famous are the descendants), also known as "Mele ʻAi Pōhaku" makes use of this beautiful metaphor. Pua is also a term used for the young of several fish species, especially ʻanae (mullet). The schools of pua on this shirt swim in formation as the changing tide pulls them in one direction and then another. Their strength and success lies in their togetherness.
Nā pua makamae i ke kō a ke au - The treasured descendants in the pull of the tide.
One of two butterflies endemic to Hawaiʻi, the Kamehameha butterfly, or lepelepe o Hina (Vanessa tameamea) is found from Hawaiʻi to Kauaʻi. Its host plants are the native nettles (like māmaki and olonā). These little guys weave a chrysalis (cocoon) that looks like a dried māmaki leaf. The young caterpillars are "leaf-rollers," which means they cut a crescent-shaped flap into the leaf of the host plant and roll themselves in it for protection. Fond of sunny days, these creatures are most active when its nice out.
Ka ʻōnohi kau maka - The beloved one.
Pele - Kahe Hou Ka Pele!
Nā Ahi Pele I Luna O Mauna Loa!
ʻO Pele lā koʻu akua, miha ka lani, miha ka honua…
He kūpono paha ka hoʻopili ʻana i kēia mau lālani mele mīkololohua i ka wā mua e ʻike maka aku ai ke kanaka i kona akua, iā Pele hoʻi. Ia wā, he ilihia nui launa ʻole e lalawe ana i ke kino a paulehua wale ka manaʻo. ʻAnoʻai paha, he manawa pōkole e mū ai nā leo a pau, e kuli iki ai paha ka pepeiao, e miha ai hoʻi ka lani me ka honua. I loko nō o ia mau sekona lanalana, ʻo ke akua wale nō ia, ʻaʻohe mea ʻē aku, a lilo piha aʻe ka ʻike o ke kanaka iā ia, i kona uʻi ʻenaʻena ʻihiʻihi nui wale e malule iki ai ke kino. Pēlā hoʻi ka wehewehe ʻana mai o ka mea nāna i paʻi i ke kiʻi i hoʻolilo ʻia i ka lau e kau ana ma nei pālule. Kani aʻela ke kelepona i ka pili aumoe a ʻo ka leo nō ia o ka makamaka e hoʻomaopopo mai ana iā ia e puka koke aku i waho e nānā ai. I hoʻokō aku ka hana, pohā ana kona lae i ka pahū ʻana aʻe o ka ʻula laʻa lā i luna, ke kino āiwaiwa hoʻi o Pele e lalalapa aʻe ana, e hula leʻa ana i ka lewa. Pili pū ka hanu o nei wahine i ka ʻike ʻana i ka mea like a kona mau kūpuna i ʻike ai, ka mea hoʻi a nā haku mele o ka wā kahiko i hoʻohanohano aku ai nō hoʻi ma kā lākou mau mele kaulana no ka wahine i ka maka o ke ahi. ʻAkahi nō a ʻike maopopo pono i ua wahine nei ka nani o kona akua, he ʻikena hoʻi e holo ai ka lālani mele: E Pele ē, huaʻina hoʻi!
The Fires of Pele Atop Mauna Loa (2022) Honoring akua Hawaiʻi still survives today in some ʻohana, despite the many challenges of history, although each generation may do it a little differently, as loina (cultural norms) must evolve to suit the times, or practices cease entirely. For collaborating artist Pualani Lincoln Maielua, paying homage to Pele has grown from seeds planted by her kūpuna, who would regularly go to Kīlauea in the evenings with pila (stringed instruments) to offer song and aloha to this akua until sunrise. From those seeds, Pua has nurtured her own kumu (tree) that has flourished in the recovery of ʻike Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian knowledge) made possible by the perseverance and bravery of those before us. Cleaning yard, offering ʻawa, and recounting the many stories of this akua to her own children are some of the ways she honors Pele, but all of them took on new gravity during the Mauna Loa eruption of 2022. It was the first time in Pua’s life that Pele returned to Mokuʻāweoweo, gracing the slopes of Mauna Loa in a display so spectacular that words fail to capture what she experienced, a sight that many of her own kūpuna before her have seen. Awe, reverence, and aloha all apply to the moment when she first beheld Pele’s towering fountains, but connecting to her kūpuna through a shared experience and understanding is one of the most powerful outcomes of that time. It cemented an understanding of what it really means to live in the home of this akua wahine who can decide to create new land anytime she chooses.
Once flawed and weakened, now beautiful and strong. Once cracked and broken, now whole and restored. Used to mend bowls, paddles, canoes, gourds, and more, pewa and other types of patches hoʻoikaika (increase structural integrity) and elevate aesthetic appeal. Rather than casting important items aside, we repair them, continue to use and love them, then pass them on to the next generation. Another hoʻoilina of our kūpuna is hoʻoikaika on the mental and spiritual planes. Thus, kanaka potentials are fully realized when spiritual strength and intellectual prowess meet grit and sweat equity. Kamehameha I developed mass scale agriculture throughout Nuʻuanu after his last battle there. Thousands of people worked on these highly organized farming projects. Restoring the health and well being of the makaʻāinana was achieved through food production and sound governance. Building and repairing certain pilina (relationships) likely played a role in helping people to work together for the collective good. Like our ancestors before us, we overcome crises by working together and actively sharing knowledge and resources. We fortify our perspectives and innovate our approaches. We mend physically and strive mentally to keep moving forward. E hoʻoikaika mau!
E kukuʻi wanaʻao mai, e ke aloha, a i ka moku ʻana o ka pawa e nākilikili mai nō ka poni liʻulā, e hahani mai ka pualena o ka maliʻo i ko kāua ʻili, a e hewa auaneʻi ko kāua maka i ka wena ʻula o ka lani me ka pohā ʻana mai o nā kūkuna lā i ke alaula a Kāne. I kai o Kaʻuiki e puka mai ai ka lā a e kū mai ai hoʻi ka pūnohu ʻula i ka moana, ʻo ke alaula ia o Kanaloa. No lalo mai nō o Kanaloa kai ākea ka iʻa i kapa ʻia he pūnohu. He hāʻueʻue ʻulaʻula, a he hāʻukeʻuke ʻulaʻula kekahi inoa o kēia iʻa wanaoʻa noho ʻāpapa. ʻElima ona niho ikaika e waʻu ai i ka limu o laila i ʻai nāna. ʻO ke kumu paha ia o kona ʻono me kona ʻai ʻia e kānaka, e like hoʻi me kona hoa, me ka wana. ʻAʻole ma ko kākou mau kai wale nō kēia iʻa. Aia nō ma ka Pākīpika ākea a hiki loa aku i nā kai o Aferika. Ma Hawaiʻi wale nō naʻe paha kona hoʻohālike ʻia me ka lā e puka mai ana i ka hikina, ka ʻula hāweo o luna o ka lua pele, ka pua ʻana aʻe o ka uahi, a me ka nani o ke ānuenue ʻulaʻula e pipiʻo ana i ka lani. ʻO ia manaʻo hope kai ʻike ʻia ma nā hua mele kaulana no ka Mōʻī wahine Liliʻuokalani: Ka pūnohu ʻula kō lei aliʻi, a he hōʻailoha kapu nou e ka lani.
Like the rising sun, or the explosion of a red star, pūnohu (Heterocentrotus mamillatus) are one of the most beautiful iʻa (marine creatures) of the reef. Their long, thick red spines are what make them so stunning and also what protect them from predators. They are found throughout the Indo-pacific waters where they live in the crevices of reef flats. They consume filamentous algae on rocks by scraping it off with their five-toothed jaw. The gonads of the pūnohu are eaten, but less often than those of the wana, which tend to be bigger. Like wana, pūnohu can also be used as bait to attract fish and crabs. This iʻa was nicknamed slate pencil urchin because its spines were sometimes used to write on slate blackboards. The pūnohu in Hawaiian waters have the reddest spines of all and were sometimes decoratively carved. Pūnohu is also the word for a low-lying red rainbow, a phenomenon often associated with chiefs and royalty, as in the song "He Lei No Liliʻuokalani" where it is spoken of as her chiefly adornment and a sacred sign of her presence. ʻOiʻoi ʻo waho, ʻono ʻo loko - Poky outside, tasty inside.