Where the "First Hawaiian" Was Born

I was asked a question about where the “first Hawaiian” was born according to the Papahānaumoku, Wākea and Hoʻohōkūlani epic.

The answer is:

At a place called Moʻo-kapu-o-Hāloa which is the main ridge of Kāne-hoa-lani at Kua-loa, Oʻahu. This can be looked up in Abraham Fornander, Martha Beckwith and even in “Place Names of Hawaiʻi” by the eminent Mary Kawena Pukui.

From the first part of the place name, Moʻo-kapu, we derive two translations.
Moʻo can mean lizard or supernatural dragon or in succession. Kapu means sacred.
The moʻo has long been one of the ancient guardians of Kama-lala-walu line of chiefs. Papahānaumoku, the earth mother, was of that line and thus all chiefs all derive from that line through her and her daughter, Hoʻohōkūlani. It is interesting to note the ties between royalty, lizards (moʻo or nagas), and dragons is something that is not just found among Hawaiians but among the our cousins throughout SE Asia and the Pacific but as well as throughout East Asia. There are also stories about kupua moʻo, dragon or lizard women, who would act as midwives to chiefly babies. It is said that one such powerful moʻo wahine was a midwife to Hoʻohōkūlani when she gave birth to Hāloanaka (which was the son that became the kalo plant) and Hāloa (which became the ancestor of the Hawaiian people).
Moʻo can also mean in succession. Moʻo aliʻi means succession of chiefs. Moʻolelo means a succession of stories. Moʻo kapu could therefore mean in succession of sacredness. Sacred lizard or the succession of sacred ones would all therefore make sense as a translation.
Therefore, next time one goes to Kualoa and sees that high Ridge, one can nod in acknowledgement that is where the “first Hawaiian” was born. That is where Wākea lived with Hoʻohōkūlani at one time. That is where the lines of chiefs and of the lehulehu had sprung down to the earth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: