HAWAIIAN HISTORY AND CULTURE
Hawaiian history and culture, Maui especially, is steeped in rich traditions and stories. The Island of Maui is named after the mischievous and clever demi-god, Maui, whose adventures and feats are legendary throughout Polynesia.
Maui, born to the goddess Hina, is attributed with pulling up the Hawaiian Islands from the bottom of the sea with his magical fishhook, "manaiakalani". He is noted to have discovered the secret of fire and raising the sun to the sky. Most significant is Maui's challenge with the sun to make the days longer.
Hina was known for pounding the finest, softest kapa cloth, which could not dry properly because the sun travelled too quickly and the people could not finish their daily tasks. Maui climbed to Haleakala and in a fierce battle, lassoed the sun's rays to slow its pace. Venture up to Haleakala (House of the Sun) and relish in Maui's feat and enjoy one of the most glorious sunrises on earth.
A view from atop Haleakala, a massive volcano on the island of Maui.
Hawaiian people have a deep connection and relationship with nature, with an inherent belief in "malama 'aina" (care for the land) and passed on these values through oli (chant), ka'ao (short stories) mo'olelo (stories), mele (song) and hula (dance).
Myths based on gods, legends that recalled great feats of chiefs, and factual histories are often filled with kaona (hidden meaning).
The ‘Ulalena Show is a theatrical production that conveys an artistic portrayal of Hawaii's past. While some of the lu'au incorporates the hula, the most authentic depiction will be found in the hula halau (schools) performances.
The native Hawaiian people evolved a sophisticated society, based on the fundamental belief of malama (care for) of the ‘aina (land). The ahupua'a division - from the mountains to the ocean were populated with resourceful and skilled people. Innovative farmers produced complex irrigation systems to grow Hawaiian food staples like sweet potatoes and kalo, a significant food source for poi and luau leaf. Expert fisherman crafted hukilau fish nets and ingenuous fishponds.
Kalo leaves on the island of Maui.
Clothing was made from the tree bark of kapa or wauke, canoes and calabashes from koa and ‘ohia trees and houses were thatched with pili grass roofs and furnished with carpets made of lauhala. Today, you can go to a luau for sampling of traditional Hawaiian food like poi or you might opt to volunteer in restoring the Ko'ie'ie Fishpond.
The island of Maui was divided into different domains, each ruled by its own chief with varied philosophies of power and peace. In the 1500's, Pi'ilani emerged to rule from Hana in the East to the collective Honoapi'ilani area in West Maui as well as the islands of Kaho'olawe, Moloka'i and Lana'i.
Under his reign, the 138-mile, 6-foot-wide King's Highway was constructed that encircled the island and for several generations, the kingdom was admired for its ideal industry, prosperity and harmony. Subsequent chiefs included Kekaulike, the father of Hawaiian royalty, and his son Kahekili, a fierce warrior chief who honored the thunder god for whom he was named by tattooing one side of his entire body in solid black.
He was the most powerful chief in the 1780's, vicious and aggressive and desired to unite all the Hawaiian Islands, only to be defeated in a bloody battle with Kamehameha. Maui forces were slaughtered in their retreat to Iao Valley, clogging the Wailuku Stream, as is known as The Battle at Kepaniwai (water dam).
Today, you can journey along streets and places named for past chiefs of Maui or visit the Ia'o Needle lookout and feel the mana (power) of Kepaniwai.
While Captain James Cook is noted for discovering the islands of Hawaii, he opted to bypass landing on the shores of Maui and sailed to the Island of Hawaii. It was seven years later that Admiral Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de La Perouse landed on Maui at Keone'o'io, where the native Hawaiians were noted for being mild, attentive and peaceful. Instead of claiming the island for France, he instead set sail after just 3 hours ashore. Maui's first visitor was honored by renaming Keone'o'io to La Perouse Bay.
A view of La Perouse Bay from the beach.