Hoʻopāhaʻohaʻo: The Hawaiian Word of The Week
Shapeshifting and more
Some ladies just have it. Ok, well, this is an akua wahine, a female diety, so she’s really got something special. That’s right, we are talking Haumea, the wondrous woman of multiple forms:
He wahine pahaohao wale keia
Hoopahaohao ana i kona kino
He kini, he mano, he lau, he lehu ke kino o ka wahine
This is a simply wondrous and incomprehensible woman
Who can shift her shape, change her body
40,000, 4,000, 400, 4000,000 are the forms of this woman
One of her most famous forms is that of the ʻulu tree. The story of Kamehaʻikana was penned by noted writer Joseph Mokuʻōhai Poepoe in 1906 in the Hawaiian Language Newspaper Ka Nai Aupuni, in his column “Ka Moolelo Hawaii Kahiko.” The following koʻihonua (genealogical chant) tells of the origins of this form of Haumea known as Kamehaʻikana. Here is the preface Poepoe gives:
Approximation: Something that will be explained here is about the ʻulu: The ʻulu, according to this story, is a body form of Haumea. And in ancient times here in Hawaiʻi, the ʻulu became a deity for some people and was worshiped by the name Kamehaʻikana. And thus follows the genealogical chant of the ancients for Haumea and her ʻulu tree form:
Today we begin a celebration of Haumea that will continue over the next few weeks as we look closer at this tale of amazing feats, danger, intrigue and mana wahine. We will be bringing you several tasty vignettes, translated for your reading pleasure. We hope the incredible feats of this wahine hoʻopāhaʻohaʻo *arouse wonder* in you…
Should you be interested in reading the original story in the nūpepa, click here. Click the word “Back” at the very top to get to the unclipped view and then use the arrows near the top next to “issues” to move to the next issue. You will see the title “Ka Moolelo Hawaii Kahiko” in the large view. Just click on that and then use the clip button on the left (the scissors icon) to clip the column and get a larger view.
E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!