Mauna Kea
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Chant for Hakalau

A portion of this chant is featured in the video
Mauna Kea – Temple Under Siege

chanted by
Sam ‘Ohukani’ohi’a Gon

E ‘Io e! E ‘Io e! E Ku, e manu e!
Ke alu aku nei ka pule ia Hakalau
Kulia ka lani ia Uli
Ia namu, Ia naue
Ke nehe i luna, ka nehe i lalo
Ka’a akau, ka’a hema
Ku makani, ha’i ka lani
Hekili ka’aka’a i ka lani
Kauila nui makeha i ka lani
Pane i ka lani, e ola ke kanaka
Ho mai ka loea, ka ‘ike, ka mana
I a’e ka honua la,
‘O waha lau ali’i
‘O kahi i waiho ai ka hua ’olelo
‘Eli’eli kau mai!
‘Amama, ua noa

O ‘Io, O Hawk, O Ku, o bird:
The prayers are combined toward Hakalau
The royal one strives toward Uli
Via muttering, via rumbling
The rustling above, the rustling below
Rolling north (right) rolling south (left)
The wind rises, the heavens break
Thunder rumbles across the heavens
great lightning flashes zigzag across the heavens
The heavens answer, the people live
Bring skill, insight, mana
That the world continues
The words of many chiefs
The place where the word was placed
Awe descends upon me
Completed, the prayer's kapu is freed

I feel Mauna Kea and all of the other high places in Hawai’i represent the Wao Akua and that to enter there requires protocol. And indeed, whenever I move from planted landscapes and roads and the like and enter into places where I work that are trackless and surrounded by native plants and animals and ecosystems, I typically present oli for entry, just to set myself properly into the place that I’ll be working.

There is a chant that I like a lot that speaks to a place on Mauna Kea’s flank, Hakalau. I like that because, one, it’s a chant for enlightenment and two, it’s a chant that specifically mentions the Hawaiian hawk, ‘io.

It also mentions Uli. And if you look in Beckwith or any of the Hawaiian mythology sources, she is talked about as the Goddess of Sorcery. In a western sense there are negative connotations to that. But when you think about Uli and Po and Lipo, like the Kumulipo or Po‘ele‘ele or all of those things that denote darkness, it’s more a darkness that surrounds, say, a seed that’s germinating, darkness from which something comes.

And so the phrase, “Mai ka po mai,” which means “coming from the dark,” in reality also means “coming from the deep past.” Those are very positive connotations as far as I’m concerned.

The word uli itself means a deep dark blue or green. And it’s used to describe both the ocean depths as well as the deep greens of the forest. And so the Goddess Uli, being a forest goddess, is called the Goddess of Sorcery in recognition of the huge amounts of power that would be embodied in that darkness that Uli represents.

It’s just an amazingly deep chant. And when you think about the images: you’re trying for enlightenment and there is all this confusion and things are rolling about in your head and you don’t have any clear idea. And suddenly the wind rises and the thunder rumbles and the lightning flashes across the heavens and that idea comes. And when that idea comes, the words come. You don’t know what the place was from which that word came, but you’re able to voice the idea that you wanted to.

And so that chant is a great chant. And it starts from Hakalau and from the hawk circling above there and from the deep forest of Uli.

Sam ‘Ohukani’ohi’a Gon
conservation biologist




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