Kuʻu wahi manu, ʻelua ona nuku - My little bird that has two beaks. Riddling is just one of the many fascinating things that our kūpuna did with language. For those highly skilled in hoʻopāpā (contests of wits and riddling) the stakes of competition where high and lives could be lost. For others, posing and solving nane was, and still is, a relaxing pastime. We have great mahalo for the nane that have survived the ages, as they give us insight into how our kūpuna saw their world and the intricate web of relationships that make up life. The waʻa kaulua (double-hulled canoe), is the haʻina (answer) to the nane above. There are many nane having to do with waʻa, as they were central to the lives of Hawaiians and many Pacific peoples. We would like to acknowledge the late Master Navigator Mau Piailug of Satawal, Micronesia, whose aloha and deep knowledge made possible the relearning of traditional navigation. Me ʻoe nō ka mahalo pau ʻole e ke kupuna. E mau ke ea ou!
Hawaiʻi has always been associated with flowers that are either bright and flashy (bird-of-paradise and jungly "tropicals"), or extremely fragrant (pīkake, pua kenikeni, etc.). The funny thing is none of them are native. Hawaiʻi's native flowers are much more subtle in both color and scent. Nāʻū and nānū are Hawaiian names for three species of native Gardenia: G. brighamii, G. mannii, and G. remyi. Once occurring in the dry forests of all the main islands, only 13 wild individuals of G. brighamii remain between Oʻahu and Lānaʻi. Oʻahu endemic G. manii is uncommon in mesic to wet forests. G. remyi is occasionally found in the same forest types on Kauaʻi, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. Native Gardenia flowers are less showy than the widely cultivated, many-petaled white Gardenia, and their fragrance is softer (with a hint of coconut), inspiring this ʻōlelo: Kilihea i ke onaona - Drenched in soft fragrance. They were strung into lei, like those given to Kamehameha's warriors on a visit to Kaunolū, Lānaʻi (a favorite vacation spot of this chief). Kapa dye was made from the bright yellow-orange fruit pulp, and the hard wood of the trunk was carved into kua kuku kapa (kapa-beating anvils).
The word nananana (also lanalana) is just one term for spider, but itʻs such a fun word that we had to bring it to you on a shirt. What you are looking at here are actually examples of endemic Hawaiian wolf spiders, or peʻepeʻemakawalu. One species, Adelocosa anops, (a.k.a. "big-eyed, no-eyed" wolf spider) lives only in damp caves on Kauaʻi. Although this species is totally blind, it hunts down its prey (shrimp- like land hoppers called amphipods) instead of weaving a web to catch it in. In fact, it uses its front legs to detect sound waves - scientists call it "acoustic hunting." E nā keiki (hey kids), wouldnʻt it be crazy if you could hear with your wāwae (feet)?!! The second spider on this shirt represents members of the genus Lycosa that are found way up high on Mauna Kea (Hawaiʻi Island) and Haleakalā (Maui). Unlike their Kauaʻi cousins, these spiders can see. They catch various bugs by ambush, or, at higher elevations (they have been found as high as 13,796 ft.!), eat whatever the wind blows up. Like so many creatures of the natural world, our kūpuna made a dance for the spider called the hula peʻepeʻemakawalu. How cool is that?!
Of all the kinolau (physical manifestations) of the god Kū, the niu (Cocos nucifera) is perhaps the proudest and most majestic looking of them all. Every single part of the niu tree has a name because our kūpuna used them all. Food, shelter, ceremony, hula implements, medicine and more; the niu touched nearly every aspect of traditional life. As a form of Kū, a male deity, women did not consume the flesh of the niu and only worked with certain parts of the plant in limited aspects. Niu invites chiefly references like nane (riddle): Ka nīʻau piʻo e keha ai ka haku - The arched leaf frond that dignifies the chief (an offspring of nīʻau piʻo mating). To incite a war, one chief would go and cut down the niu in the territory of another chief, as Keōuakūʻahuʻula did in Keʻei before the famous battle of Mokuʻōhai where his forces clashed with Kamehamhea's. Large ulu niu (coconut groves) were really common on all the islands in times past, but are becoming increasingly rare today. Development is a huge threat to ulu niu, but so are introduced pests such as the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle that eats the sap and new tissues in the growing apex of the trees. One of the special inspirations behind this design was Kapuāiwa, the coconut grove on Molokai. Planted in the 1860's, this grove was once ten acres big, but is still home to hundreds of trees today. They are being attacked by a coconut mite, however, that makes deep crack and scars in the trees and causes the nuts to drop prematurely. Read on below for more about threats to our ulu niu and how you can help. Kū haʻaheo - Stand proud.
We all want to help protect our ulu niu, so please visit the links below so that you can stay informed and do your part!
Visit these link for good basic descriptions of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle: http://www.oahuisc.org/coconut-rhinoceros-beetle/
If you see the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle in your area, report it via the contact info at this site: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/reporting/
For a whole pile of awesome cultural info on niu, check out this write up by @naneaarmstrongwassel : https://www.instagram.com/p/_5hoWLvJ74/?taken-by=naneaarmstrongwassel
The higher a mountain is, the more perspective it offers and the more opportunities there are for uniqueness to spring up. Take Haleakalā, for example. At 7,000 ft., stunning vistas of distant mountains and deep arching bays spread out toward the west. Turn 180 degrees and the rest of this 10,000+ foot volcano rises steep before you. The air is clean and crisp up this high and beautiful native plants abound. In this transition zone between barren rock and rainforest, rainfall is not very abundant, so Lilinoe, goddess of the mist, nourishes these plants with her mist and fog. Amidst species such as pūkiawe, ʻaʻaliʻi, ʻōhelo and māmane, you will find the plant honored in this design: nohoanu (a.k.a. hinahina, Geranium cuneatum subsp. tridens). Its small white blossoms twinkle like stars. Its leaves are pale moonlight silver (an adaptation unique to high elevation plants), covered in fine silky hairs and tipped with three small teeth (tridens means "three teeth" in Latin). This lofty height is the only place in the world this species grows, but other species of Hawaiian geraniums can be found on the tall mountains of Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi. There are 6 endemic species total, all bearing the name nohoanu.
He uʻi māhinahina - A pale moonlight beauty.
The plant and fish species that share this name do so for good reason: they have spiny defenses that you do not want to find underfoot (or too close to any parts of your body). Tribulus cistoides is a low-growing indigenous shrub found throughout the Hawaiian Islands in coastal habitats, which are the most rare habitat type in the main islands. Its bright yellow blooms develop into fruits with a tough, spiny outside opened only by the powerful beak of the Laysan finch (Telespiza cantans). These poky treats are the bird's main food source. The blossoms were also used by our kūpuna in a practice called kā ʻōhiki or paeaea ʻōhiki, where they used the blossom as bait to catch sand crabs. Scorpaenopsus brevifrons won't win the fish beauty contest, but there's no denying how cool this species is with its cryptic appearance, venemous spines, and ambush predator behaviors. Also known as the short snout scorpion fish, this species is endemic to Hawaii and is becoming rare in our local waters. Its more lethal relatives are found throughout the Pacific (stone fish and scorpion fish). E neneʻe, moe pākiʻi, kākala, kukū, kū aku ē! Creep, lie low, spines, thorns, poke um!