Hawaii is full of myths and legends – stories that are full of passion, betrayal, loyalty, birth and death. According to W.D. Westervelt, one of the most famed re-tellers of Hawaiian myths and legends back in the early 1900s, some of these myths and legends were very similar to the stories told in Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and other islands in the Pacific Ocean.
These Hawaiian stories tell the tales of gods and men, ghosts and goblins. One Hawaiian chant speaks of as many as "four thousand gods" of the Hawaiian people. The ancient Hawaiians, like most indigenous peoples, felt a deep connection with nature and explained everything from the creation of the Earth to the lava flowing from the volcanoes through the stories of their gods and goddesses.
The four main gods (akua) are Ku, Kane, Lono and Kanaloa. Then there are many lesser gods (kupua), each associated with certain professions. In addition to the gods and goddesses, there are family gods or guardians (aumakua). The many gods of Hawaii and Polynesia were often represented by tikis. Tiki statues were carved to represent the image of a certain god and as an embodiment of that specific god's mana, or power.
Hawaiian Gods of the Myths and Legends
This is only a partial list of the many Hawaiian gods. To this day, they are revered and respected by many.
Kane: Father of living creatures. Kane is the highest of the four major gods.
Ku: God of war. Human sacrifices were made to
Ku in ancient times.
Kanaloa: God of the underworld and a teacher of magic. Ruler of the ocean. Complementary power and close companion of Kane.
Lono: God of agriculture. Associated with fertility, rainfall, music and peace.
Pele: Goddess of the volcanoes, as well as fire, lightning and wind.
Hina: Goddess of Moon.
Laka: Goddess of the hula.
Kuula: God of fishermen.
Papa: Fertility goddess. Earth mother.
Poliahu: One of the four goddesses of snow. The
rival of Pele.
The knowledge of these ancient myths and legends was passed on from one generation to the next in the form of stories and chants. Below is a collection of popular Hawaiian legends.