the low gourd

Kaipuhaʻa is an area generally known today as "Wailua Homesteads". It is a vast valley stretching between the bounds of the Waiʻaleʻale, Makaleha, Nounou, and Kālepa mountains. Kaipuhaʻa means the low gourd, as the flat, broad, wide valley of this area resembles the inside of a gourd. In the chant, Kūnihi Ka Mauna, Hiʻiaka refers to Kaipuhaʻa as the area behind or blocked by Nounou (ʻālai ʻia e Nounou nalo Kaipuhaʻa), above Kapaʻa (Ka laulā ma aka o Kapaʻa ē).

Kūnihi Ka Mauna is a well-known oli kāhea that comes from a moʻolelo of Hiʻiakaikapoliopele. This oli references important place names in Wailua and is used to seek permission or request entrance to a place. Doing so in circumstances when one is an outsider is the traditional Hawaiian attitude of showing respect for a people, place, and culture. It's important to be aware and recognize when one does not have to right or privilege to automatically enter a place.

Kūnihi Ka Mauna is often used by hula hālaus asking permission to step on stage, cultural practitioners seeking acceptance into forests or heiau, students looking to come into a classroom, etc. The lines in this specific oli identify and locate specific places in Wailua and their connection to each other. There are several versions of this chant and different translations, but this is the version I was taught:


After an oli kāhea is chanted, it is proper protocol to give a response in the form of an oli komo.

•     •     •

Heiau: pre-Christian place of worship, shrine
Hula hālau: hula dance group/school
Kaipuhaʻa: the low gourd
Mo'olelo: story, myth, history, legend
Oli kāhea: a chant to call, greet, summon
Oli komo: a chant to welcome, grant entry

•     •     •

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

He Moʻolelo No Hiiakaikapoliopele. Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika, Volume I, Number 22. February 20, 1862.

Three Ipu. Digital Image. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/56597/56597-h/images/p060d.png.

Kaipuhaʻa. Digital Image. https://balihai.com/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/AS-Sleeping-Giant-facing-Waialeale.jpg.

Map of Wailua. Digital Image. http://www.islandbreath.org/hawaiinei/M7Kauai/M7KauaiRasterFile.png.

Soehren, Lloyd J. “Hawaiian Place Names.” ULUKAU: The Hawaiian Electronic Library, 2002, ulukau.org/cgi-bin/hpn?l=en.

Hoʻomanawanui, Kuʻulei. “ʻŌiwi Vol. 2.” Ulukau, 2002, www.ulukau.org/elib/cgi-bin/library?e=d-0oiwi2-000Sec--11en-50-20-frameset-book--1-010escapewin&p=frameset&toc=0&d=D0.2. Front Matter.