Mauna Kea
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Mountain Deities

The beautiful snow goddess of Mauna-kea, Hawaii, who sometimes quenched Pele's fires. She married ‘Ai-wohi-kupua, who took her in a great cortege to Kaua’i. A jealous rival, Hina of Hana, Maui, who had won ‘Ai-wohi in a konane game, went to Kauai and seized him. Poli’ahu enveloped the lovers in alternative waves of heat and cold until they separated. She then retired to her cold home. (HM 222)

In another version (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, November 8, 1884), she stole for a time Ka-hanai-a-ke-akua (the foster child of the god), a son of the god Kane, from his sister wife, but eventually she lost him. In spite of her beauty and powers, she was always the loser. Lit., clothed bosom [referring to the snow on Mauna Kea].

A son of Wakea, the first man, by his own daughter, Ho’ohokukalani. Emerson (Malo 244) calls Haloa "the progenitor of all the peoples of the earth." Taro is a symbol of Haloa, and of the kind of taro called lau-loa.

An earth-mother goddess equated with Papa, La’ila’i, and Kameha’ikana, the "great source of female fertility" (HM 185) who bore children in successive generations. She married Wakea and later married Haloa, her husband's son by his own daughter Ho’ohokukalani. Haumea had many other husbands. She is considered the mother of Pele and of Pele's many siblings who were born from her mouth or armpits. She presided over childbirth.

Legendary figure believed by some to have discovered Hawaii. Lit., distant Hawaii.

The daughter of Wakea and Papa, the ancestors of the Hawaiians. Wakea instituted taboo nights so that he might sleep with Ho’ohoku. The root - hoku may be cognate with Tahitian hotu, to produce fruit; if so, the translation would be 'to bear fruit in the heavens.'

Same as Kumu-honua. Lit., land upsetting.

The fierce lizard mo’o guardian of Pali-uli, a mythical paradise on Hawaii and home of the sacred princess La’ie-i-ka-wai. He often rested on the tops of ‘ohi’a trees to observe the approach of enemies. Lit., great island-shaking lizard.

An alleged mythical ancestor twenty generations before Wakea; also called Huli-honua. (RC 433) Lit., land source.

A god of canoe makers worshipped as the inventor of the adze. In one story he was banished with other gods by Pele for trying to save Lohi’au from death by fire (HM 176-177). Lit., adze eating crookedness.

A goddess of the mists and younger sister of the more famous Poli’ahu. Lit., mists.

A chief of Waimea, Kauai, father-in-law of Mano-ka-lani-po, and famous as an agriculturalist. A month and the summer season collectively were named for him. During the makahiki festivals food plants were symbolically dropped from his net. (HM 366-367) His name is given to the Pleiades. By some he was considered a navigator.

The matriarch of all mo’o gods and goddesses. She brought countless hordes of them from a mythical land, Ke’alohilani, to Oahu. Lit., relaxed supernatural.

A kupua hero of Kauai. He killed warriors of Hamakua and became the ruling chief of Hilo.

Probably the same as Haumea, and like Haumea, considered symbolic of the female principle. Commonly cited as the wife of Wakea. Lit., flat surface.

The volcano goddess born as a flame in the mouth of Haumea.

Hawaiian Dictionary (first edition)
Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
University Press of Hawai’i

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Then we have Lilinoe who is the kupua of the mists. And you can see Lilinoe as she comes down over the mountain sometimes. When you’re driving from Saddle Road up to Hale Pohaku, you can look over and see Lilinoe in some of the valleys. She flows up and over, very gently, very soft, like very fine kapa, white kapa. She fills in the valleys and you can see her hands just filtering out very thinly into the valleys.

It’s a remarkable sight and it really makes you very aware of the mist, of how mist flows around. And it’s obvious that it’s very, very beautiful.

Keawe Vredenburg
interview, Nov. 4, 2002

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Place names of Mauna Kea associated with deities

"the chest (bosom) of Kane"
One of the three companions of Poli’ahu. The other two were Lilinoe and Waiau. Kane is believed to be foremost of the Hawaiian gods and is credited with creation, procreation, light, waters of life, abundance. The area identified as Ka-houpo-o-Kane is situated below Waiau, on the southwestern slopes of Mauna Kea, in the land of Ka’ohe. One of the primary attributes of Kane are the wai ola (life giving waters) sacred springs and water sources made by Kane around the islands, to provide for the welfare of the people and land. At Ka-houpo-o-Kane are found the waters of Pohakuloa, Hopukani, and Waihu.

Pu’u Lilinoe
Named for the goddess Lilinoe (Mist), a goddess of mists and sister of Poli’ahu. Traditional accounts also identify Lilinoe as having been a chiefess, who secluded herself on Mauna Kea and upon her death, she was also buried in a cave near the summit. Kamakau also reports that Lilinoe was an important ancestral figure in the genealogies of Hawai’i's ali’i (royalty), and that she was buried on Mauna Kea.

Ku of the red hued dew or snow; named for a male deity form of the god Ku and lover of Poli’ahu, goddess of the mountain. Kukahau’ula is identified in the Boundary Commission testimonies of 1873 as the highest peak on Mauna kea (now generally identified as Mauna Kea peak or Pu’u Wekiu).

is not directly associated with a deity, but the god Ku, in a variety of his forms, was evoked in the rituals and observances associated with procuring the stone and making the adzes.

"Long Stone"
A traditional account...tells us that Pohakuloa was named for a deity who was a guardian of Ka-wai-kapu-a-Kane (The sacred water of Kane) at Waiau. Also a land area, gulch and water source.

Pu’u Poli’ahu
named for Poli’ahu (Clothed or garment covered breast), goddess of the snows of Mauna Kea.

"water current" or "swirling water"
Hale’ole recorded that Lililnoe, Waiau, and Kahoupokane were three god-companions of the goddess Poli’ahu. "Poli’ahu's spring at the summit." (Kamakau)

excerpt from
Mauna Kea – Kuahiwi Ku Ha’o i ka Malie
A Report on Archival and Historical Documentary Research
Ahupua’a of Humu’ula, Ka’ohe, districts of Hilo and Hamakua, Island of Hawai’i
By Kepa Maly
©1997 Kepa Maly, Kumu Pono Associates and Native Lands Institute

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Of gods that were worshipped by the people and not by the chiefs the following are such as were worshipped by those who went up into the mountains to hew out canoes and timber: Ku-pulupulu, Ku-ala-na-wai, Ku-moku-halii, Ku-pepeiao-loa, Ku-pepeiao-poko, Ku-ka-ieie, Ku-palala-ke, Ku-ka-ohia-laka. Lea, though a female deity, was worshipped alike by women and canoe makers.

9. Ku-huluhulu-manu was the god of bird catchers, bird snarers (poe-ka-manu), bird limers and of all who did feather-work.

18. Besides these there was that countless rout of (woodland) deities, kini-akua, lehu-akua, and mano-akua [40,000, 400,000 and 4,000 gods] whose shouts were at times distinctly to be heard. They also

worshiped the stars, things in the air and on the earth, also the bodies of dead men.

20. The god of winds and storms was Laa-maomao.

21. The god of precipices (pali) was Kane-holo-pali; of stones, Kane-pohaku; of hard (basaltic) stone, Kane-moe-ala.

Hawaiian Antiquities
(Mo`olelo Hawaii)

by David Malo
Bernice P. Bishop Museum
Translated from the Hawaiian by Dr. Nathaniel B. Emerson, 1898

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more about Kukahau`ula and Lilinoe


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