“La`ieikawai”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Hawaiian, Chinese, Caucasian
Age: 60
Occupation: School librarian
Residence: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date of Performance/Collection: April 1st, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hawaiian

At the sound of two claps of thunder, twin girls were born to Kahauokupua, ruling chief of Laie, Oʻahu and his wife Malaekahana. This should have been a time of rejoicing for the couple but instead it was a time of fear and secrecy. Why?  Why… Because Malaekahana had given birth to 4 daughters and Kahauokapaka had them all put to death because he wanted only sons…

Desperate to keep these two, Malaekahana called a kahuna who took the girls and hid them away. One named Laielohelohe was taken to live in the uplands of Wahiawa and the other, Laieikawai was take by the kahunaʻs wife, Waka to the island of Hawaii, in the forest uplands of Puna, to a magical place called Paliuli.

Laʻieikawai spent her days among the red and yellow lehua flowers and colorful birds of the forest. For her just at the approach of evening was heard the ʻōō, at nightfall, the alalā, (the Hawaiian crow) at midnight the ʻelepaio and at the first streak of light the ʻiʻiwi calls. Paliuli is a truly wonderful place.

Laiʻeikawai was a sacred child, so much so, that a rainbow constantly arched over her. Soon there was much talk about who this sacred one could be and gossip spread about her beauty and her mana…

Now there lived a handsome yet vain chief in Kohala named ʻAiwohikupua who heard about the one known as the rainbow princess of Paliuli and began to dream of her and vowed to make her his wife. He set sail from Kohala to search for her and along with him he took his most prized possession, a red feather cloak. After landing his canoe at Keaʻau, ʻAiwohi climbed to where the rainbow ended and there he was awestruck when he saw before him a house completely thatched with the yellow feathers of the ʻōʻō bird, he knew it was Laiʻe’s house. Surrounded by ohi’a trees with red blossoms and colorful birds of the wao kele, the forest…

At the approach of evening is heard the ʻōʻō

At nightfall, the ʻAlalā

At midnight, the ʻelepaio

And at first streak of light the ʻiʻiwi

Paliuli is truly a wonderful place.

‘Aiwohi was so overcome with the beauty of the place and the extraordinary beauty of her house that he turned away in shame and left Paliuli… now so embarrassed of the pitiful red cloak he once was so proud of.

The chief returned to Kohala and as he traveled back to his home, he met Poliahu, the snow goddess who lived at the summit of Mauna Kea. She came to him draped in her white mantle of snow and he gave her his red feather cloak in exchange. They stayed together for many days …

ʻAiwohi continued to dream of Laieikawai. But soon, the embraces of Poliahu proved too cold for “Aiwohi and he longed for the warmth of Puna and his rainbow princess at Paliuli. So… to wrestle himself away from the snow goddess, he made up a story about trouble between his five sisters on Kauaʻi and told Poliahu he would have to leave her to attend to family matters.

His plan was to go again to the yellow house but this time with his sisters accompanying him. Their womanly ways, he thought, would help him win over the rainbow princess and secure her as his wife.

Four of ʻAiwohiʻs sisters were named after the different kinds of sweet smelling maile, Mailekaluhea, Mailelauliʻi, Mailepākaha, … and the youngest was called Kahalaomapuana. They all agreed to go with their brother to Paliuli.

When they finally arrived at Laiʻeʻs house of yellow feathers, they sent forth their wonderful maile fragrance to charm Laiʻeikawai out of her house…Laʻie called out to Waka, What is that fragrance that touches my heart?”

“It is only ‘Aiwohi and his Maile sisters trying to lure you into their family.”

Laʻie ignored their advances and remained cloistered in her house of yellow feathers.

But in time with the help of a Ti-Leaf trumpet and the beautiful singing voices of the Maile Sisters, Laʻie soon invited the sisters to live with them and keep her company. Waka built a house for the sisters… And for a time, they lived happily together.

ʻAiwohi became very bitter and plotted revenge against Laʻie and sent 40 of his soldiers and his man-eating dog to destroy her but they were all fought off and killed by Laieikawaiʻs protector, Kiha-nui-lulu-moku, a wondrous, gigantic moʻo or lizard.

With his soldiers beaten and his man-eating dog missing its tail and ears, ʻAiwohi was totally demoralized and to make matters worse, all this was at the hands of a few girls.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Does Laieikawai ever find love? Does Poliahu win ʻAiwohi ?

Does ʻAiwohi ever win Laieikawai? Does Laieikawai ever meet her twin sister Laielohelohe again?

 

This story was invented for the purposes of publishing via the newspaper and then that version was retold to me, but it is kind of a mixture between a tale and a legend because of the way it’s told. It’s not particularly realistic or potentially true, but it’s convincing as a story because it follows many of the laws and accommodates many features of the tale (such as the items mentioned by Propp and Olrik), and because it incorporates common themes of what we call “Hawaiian legends” in both formatting and plot.

How did you come across this folklore: “through research, these are favorite legends from my collection because I collect and shares mo`olelo/stories from the Hawaiian islands.”

Other information: “These are well known folk tales/legends passed down from generations and written in the Hawaiian newspapers and several collections. This is a portion of a series published in newspapers in the mid-1800s, so it has kind of a cliffhanger ending intended to induce suspense and maintain readership. I have left the questions from the version told to me at the end, after the “TO BE CONTINUED” note.”