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Hawaiian Creation Myth (Birth of Hawaii)
Last Updated: Tuesday December 31, 2002
The Birth of Hawaii
For many months Pele followed a star from the northeast, which shown brighter
than the rest, and migrated toward it. One morning, Pele awoke to the smell of
something familiar in the air. In the distance could be seen a high mountain
with a smoky haze hiding its peak. Pele knew she had found her new home. She
named the island Hawai'i.
Pele, carrying her magic stick Pa'oa, went up to the mountain where a part of
the earth collapsed into the ground. She placed the stick into the ground. Pele
called this place Kilauea. Inside the Kilauea Crater was a large pit. She named
it Halema'uma'u, maumau being the fern jungle surround the volcano.
Halema'uma'u would be her new home.
There was a fire God living on Kilauea named ‘Ailaau (forest-eater). He and
Pele both wanted Kilauea for their home. They started throwing fire balls at
each other, causing considerable damage. 'Ailaau fled and still hides in the
caverns under the earth. Pele alone would rule the Island of Hawai'i. The
people of the island loved and respected the Goddess Pele. The egg her mother
gave Pele hatched into a beautiful girl. Pele named her new sister, Hi'iaka'i-
ka-poli-o-Pele (Hi'iaka of the bosom of Pele). Kamohoali'i, the shark God
taught Hi'iaka the art of surfing.
Pele fell in love with a man she saw in a dream. His name was Lohi'au, a chief
of the island of Kaua'i. Pele sent her sister Hi'iaka to fetch Lohi'au on
Kaua'i to bring him back to Hawai'i to live with Pele. Hi'iaka would have
fourty days to bring Lohi'au back or Pele would punish the girl by hurting
Hi'iaka's girl friend Hopoe. Upon reaching Kaua'i, Hi'iaka found Lohi'au dead.
She quickly rubbed his body with herbs and chanted to the Gods for help;
bringing the young chief of Kaua'i back to life. Grateful for Hi'iaka's help,
Lohi'au agreed to return with her to the Big Island.
The fourty days had passed. Pele suspected that Hi'iaka and Lohi'au had fallen
in love and were not coming back. In her fury, Pele caused an eruption which
turned Hopoe into stone. On her return to Hawai'i with Lohi'au, Hi'iaka found
Hopoe, a statue in stone. Hi'iaka, filled with sadness and anger decided to
take revenge. Leading Lohi'au to the edge of the Halema'uma'u crater where Pele
could see them, Hi'iaka put her arms around Lohi'au and embraced him. Furious,
Pele covered Lohi'au with lava and flames.
The two sisters, anger subsided, were remorseful. One lost a friend, the other
a lover. Pele decided to bring Lohi'au back to life to let him choose which
sister he would love. Pele was sure Lohi'au would choose her. Lohi'au chose
Hi'iaka. Pele, with aloha, gave the two lovers her blessing and Hi'iaka and
Lohi'au sailed back to Kaua'i.
Pele still lives on Hawai'i where she rules as the fire Goddess of the
volcanoes. The smell of sulphur reminds the natives that she is still there in
her home, Halema'uma'u, her fiery lava building a new island to the south,
still submerged, named Loahi.
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