Photograph by Shawn Kahoʻolemana Naone (Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Native Hawaiian Writing and Arts Award, Fall 2013)
Ka Mo’olelo o Haloa
One of the many great mo’olelo – stories – of Hawai’i is the one of Haloa which can explain the connection between all Hawaiians and nature. As Hawaiians we are one with Hāloa, we are one with kalo (taro).
Wakea (Father Sky) and Papa (Mother Earth) had a beautiful daughter named Ho’ohokulani. Wakea and Ho’ohokulani together conceived a child through ni’aupi’o – a sacred ancestual union, but the child was stillborn. This child, a son, was named Hāloa. Hāloa means long breath, eternal breath. The family wrapped Hāloa in kapa cloth and buried him in the eastern side of the house so he could always great the sun as it arose.
Ho’ohokulani grieved the loss of her son, and in time, a plant grew from the grave site. This plant was fragile and tender but also strong and healthy, far reaching and long. The parents called this kalo baby Hāloanakalaukapalili. This name was given because it has a fluttering heart-shaped leaf on top of a long stalk that gently trembled this way and that, which is what a kalo plant does when the wind blows.
This plant grew well and when the mother plant matured, it produced little buds called ‘oha which circled around as children would. The word ‘ohana, family, can be formed from the root word ’oha and describes human families as kalo plants with offspring.
Soon after Ho’ohokuokalani was with child again. This time she gave birth to a male child, a healthy baby boy. The parents called this boy Haloa for his older brother, the kalo, buried on the eastern side of the house. Hāloa was a very important child, for he was the first Hawaiian. All Hawaiians are his descendants . . . until the end of time. Ua pau.