3.09.2009

The Legend of Kaluako’i Akualele

[This article was written for the Nalo News, a community newspaper published by the Waimanalo Council of Community in the late 1970's. My uncle's mother, Mrs. Julia A.F. Enoka, wrote numerous articles on ancient Hawaiian folklore and myths. This story was written by Tracy Tengan.]

In ancient Molokai, long before the dawn of recorded history, there lived a powerful Kahuna called Maka’u. Maka’u was feared because of her great power, or mana. She lived in the area of Kaluako’i where the trees had evil spirits trapped inside them, causing them to be poisonous only on Moloka’i.

Maka’u’s powers came by her being able to release these spirits by akualele, or fireballs. Those who had the mana and could see these blue and green balls of flame spoke of their great power and destruction. When Maka’u sent one of these akualele, nothing was able to stand against it.
The people of Molokai lived in constant fear of Maka’u and finally pleaded with the rest of the kahunas to unite and battle against her. The kahunas had never united before, but decided that the reign of terror of this one evil kahuna and her evil powers had to end.

Together they travelled to Kaluako’i, to the head of Waiahewahewa Gulch, to the old heiau of Hina at the head of the spring that always was present there. Maka’u saw them coming and took her malama pu’olo (bundle of sticks from which to release her evil spirits) and prepared for battle.

When the kahunas were close enough, Maka’u commanded them to stop. As she took out the most powerful piece of wood, she began to use the chant of complete destruction. The kahunas were fearful, but continued to move forward, and then began to chant “Ho’i no’ai I kou kahu,” and “ho’i no kau me ‘oe,” which means “Go back and destroy your keeper and what you have just given to me, return to you.”

As the brilliant blue akualele was released from the stick, it heard the chant of the kahunas and returned to Maka’u. Maka’u’s eyes grew as the brilliant blue akualele began to veer and return to her. The horror that filled her was clear to all the kahunas. The blast and the blaze of the fireball sent the kahunas tumbling to the ground and the earth shook with the power of the “god’s” anger. As they recovered they saw that the spring that never failed was dried up and completely destroyed, and there was no sign of Maka’u.

The kahunas united in one last ceremony. They formed a circle around the spring and chanted. They begged Hina to forgive the destruction of the old heiau, but pleaded with her to see that the good of the people goes before any one place of worship. Even to this day, the spring is gone, the heiau is still in ruins, but the lesson of Maka’u still remains.

Tengan, Tracy (1979, February). Legends: The Legend of Kaluako'i Akualele. The Nalo News.

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