the name of a moʻo

Anahola is an ahupuaʻa in the Koʻolau moku on the island of Kauaʻi. It was named after a moʻo, a lizard kupua that appeared on land as a man and in the sea as a merman ("Anahola"). Waters that flow from Nāmāhana form the Anahola stream which filters out into the ocean at Anahola Bay. This muliwai area is known as Hālaulani. The Kalalea mountain range is a well known landmark of Anahola. It's two prominent peaks are known by several different names today according to several different moʻolelo.


According to one mo'olelo, Kalalea was the first born child to Koʻolau aliʻi, Kapaʻopaʻo (kāne) and Kāhala (wahine) in Anahola. Kāhala ran into complications with child birth, so a messenger was sent to seek out the kahuna, Kanoeoalakaʻi in Wainiha. The messenger found the kahuna, told her of Kāhala's complications, and asked for her help. Kanoeoalaka'i told the messenger that she will meet the aliʻi at Kua'ehu the following night, but first, they need to fetch a few things- pūʻawa hiwa from Maiakini and water from atop Waiʻaleʻale gathered with a mokihana leaf, not with a gourd. The messenger returned to the aliʻi and told them what the kahuna had said. In extreme agony, Kāhala turned and asker her brother Pōhakumalumalu if he would go and get the ʻawa from Maiakini. Keanuoʻaipō offered to get the water from Waiʻaleʻale. And so they went.

In no time, both of the items were gathered and delivered to Kanoeoalakaʻi. By the evening she had arrived at the structure at Kuaʻehu. The aliʻi arrived the next afternoon. Everything had been gathered as instructed, and all parts of the ʻawa was prepared until a soft mixture was made with the pure water. The kahuna rubbed Kāhala from her head down to her feet, and immediately after, thunder began to boom, lightning began to flash, and the earth trembled. Then, the cry of a child was heard, and Kalalea was born. Kalalea grew up to become aliʻi of the Koʻolau district and Koananai was his aliʻi wahine. Together, they had ʻAʻāhoaka, who grew up to become aliʻi and live in Wailuanuiahoʻāno.

The main characters in this moʻolelo are traditional names of places in Anahola and remain significant landmarks to this day. Kalalea is the mountain range and the tall, sharp, upright peak of that mountain. Koananai (also known as Hōkūʻalele in other moʻolelo) is the other large, rounded peak on the southern end of the mountain range. Lae Kuaʻehu is a point located on the northern boundary line of the Anahola ahupuaʻa. Kāhala is the name of the easternmost point of Anahola Bay. Kāhala and Kapaʻopaʻo are also names of highly prized native fish species. These are fast-swimming predatory fish that hunt in the waters above reefs and in the open sea. 

Lae Kua'ehu was a very special place to ancient Hawaiians as hinted in this moʻolelo. When Kanoeoalakaʻi treats Kāhala at the structure at Kua'ehu, it implies that there may have been a heiau there. The expertise of Kanoeoalaka'i is shown through her knowledge of lāʻau lapaʻau. She is referred to as a priestess in this moʻolelo, however she is an expert in ancient obstetrics healing practices. She is a master of traditional treatments, rituals, and healing processes that included pre-natal care, the actual birth and delivery, and after the child is born. Kanoeoalakaʻi requires pūʻawa hiwa from Maiakini and water from atop Waiʻaleʻale, collected with a mokihana leaf. These ingredients are kinolau of the god Kāne, whose primary purpose is to inspire and give life. She uses the mana of her ceremonial chants,  prayers, and natural remedies to heal Kāhala and help her usher in new life.

Moʻolelo is so vital for the perpetuation of Native Hawaiian culture because it is a direct connection to our ancestors and to our ʻāina. Ancient stories such as this provide insight to the ways of life, practices, and beliefs of ancient Hawaiians. It gives us a deeper understanding of a particular place. The intricate details of the experiences of our ancestors are preserved in the form of these moʻolelo. Traditional wisdom and knowledge of land, ocean, and atmospheric forms can be found in these ancient stories and can help us learn more about them.

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ʻAʻāhoaka : glowing fire, brightness like fire, glowing flash as lightning
Ahupuaʻa: land division usually extending from the uplands to the sea, so called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (puaʻa), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the altar as tax to the chief
ʻĀina: land, earth
Aliʻi: chief, chiefess
Anahola: the name of a moʻo

Heiau: pre-christian place of worship, shrine
Hōkūʻalele: star messenger, shooting star; peak also known as Koananai
Kāhala: amberjack or yellowtail fish (Seriola dumerilii)
Kahuna: priest, priestess, expert in any profession

Kalalea: prominent
Kāne: man, also the main god of the four great Hawaiian gods
Kanoeoalakaʻi: the leading or guiding mist
Kapaʻopaʻo: a species of ulua, (Caranx speciosus), a green and yellow fish with vertical green bands; considered one of the best fishes to eat raw
Kinolau: many forms, the physical manifestations of a god
Koananai: meaning and definition unknown

Koʻolau: windward
Kua'ehu: silent, still, lonely, also describes interactive movements of the environment such as windward breezes that carry the sea spray onshore creating shrouds of ocean mist over the point
Kupua: demigod
Lāʻau lapaʻau: medicine, curing medicine, ancient practice of healing using plants, minerals, spiritualism to help heal 

Lae: point, especially along coastal areas
Maiakini: place in uplands of Keālia
Mana: supernatural or divine power, authority, spiritual

Mauka: windward
Mokihana: a native tree, (Pelea anisata), found only on Kauaʻi
Moku: district, island, islet, section (in this case, moku means district)
Moʻo: lizard
Mo'olelo: story, myth, history, legend
Nāmāhana: the twins
Pūʻawa hiwa:
Wahine: woman
Waiʻaleʻale: the highest peak on Kauaʻi; rippling water

Wainiha: ahupuaʻa in Haleleʻa, east of Haʻena, unfriendly water

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Elbert, Samuel H., and Mary Kawena Pūkui. Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English ; English-Hawaiian. Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1999.

"He Moʻolelo No Aʻahoaka Ke Koa A Me Kona Hānau Kupanaha Ana: He Moʻolelo Kahiko No Kauaʻi. (A Story of Aʻahoaka the Warrior and His Extraordinary Birth: An Ancient Story of Kauaʻi)" - Ka Nūpepa Kūʻokoʻa

Hālaulani. Digital Image.

Kalalea. Digital Image. 

Kauaʻi: Ancient Place-Names and Their Stories by Frederick B. Wichman

Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert

The Past before Us: Moʻokūʻauhau as Methodology by Nālani Wilson-Hokowhitu.