Palila’s mother is Mahinui and his father is Kaluaopalena. His maternal grandmother is Hina. Palila was born in Kōloa, Kauaʻi. When Palila was born, he was born as a piece of cord. So his parents discarded him on a trash heap. Hina took notice and retrieved the cord, placed it in ʻoloa, fine white kapa, and took it home. Hina took out the cord from the kapa, and then wrapped it up again. She did this three times. She then placed the cord on a shelf of ferns. Within an anahulu, ten days, the human body of Palila started to form. Palila grew large; Hina then took him to be raised at the famous heiau on Kauaʻi, Alanapō in Humuʻula. Alanapō was famous for its powerful warriors. There, Palila was taught how to be a great warrior. His grandmother also gave him a magical club, a lāʻau pālau, named Huliāmahi. With Huliāmahi, Palila flies to Oʻahu. There he meets the Oʻahu chief ʻĀhuapau. ʻĀhuapau is afraid of the great giant Olomana. He was so afraid of the giant; he would not travel from Makapuʻu to Kalaeokaʻōʻio near Kualoa. This whole Koʻolaupoko area was kapu to Olomana. Wanting Palila to encounter Olomana, ʻĀhuapau tells Palila to travel around the entire island of Oʻahu. Palila asks if there will be any troublemakers along the way. At first ʻĀhuapau promises, his travels will be unobstructed. Palila is suspicious of the Oʻahu chief and warns ʻĀhuapau, “If I meet a trouble maker upon my path, I will kill him. Then I will return and kill you and all your men!”
ʻĀhuapau then changes his story and warns Palila of Olomana, the great giant of Koʻolau. Olomana was a fierce warrior, feared by all. Palila decides to challenge Olomana. With his lāʻau pālau, Huliāmahi, he flies up to Olomana’s large shoulders.
“Where are you from, you haughty child, who dares to tread upon my shoulders!? No one has stepped upon my shoulders before!”
“I am Palila! I am from Kauaʻi, raised at Alanapō, the temple of the gods!”
Just by hearing the name of the infamous heiau, great freight enters Olomana. “No! Please do not kill me! Let me live!” pleaded Olomana.
“I shall kill you, and you shall die because you have done many evil deeds,” promises Palila. Palila then slices off the head of Olomana with Huliāmahi and Olomana’s head flies off and lands all the way in the ocean. That piece that landed in the sea is known as Mahinui. This is why Olomana is left jagged, and that is how the great giant Olomana, was defeated.
This story teaches us the importance of being truthful and that evildoers will meet their match in the end.
- Beckwith, Martha. Hawaiian Mythology. p.414, 1976. The University of Hawaiʻi Press. Retrieved from: http://ulukau.org/elib/cgi-bin/library?e=q-0beckwit1-000Sec–11en-50-20-frameset-search-martha+beckwith-1-010escapewin&a=d&p2=book
- Fornander, Abraham. Edited by Thomas Thrum. Fornander Collection of Hawaiian Antiquities and Folklore, Vol. 5. 1918, Bishop Museum Press. Retrieved from: http://ulukau.org/elib/cgi-bin/library?e=q-0fornander5-000Sec–11haw-50-20-frameset-book-palila-1-011escapewin&a=d&p2=book
- Sterling, E.P. & Summers C. C. Sites of Oʻahu, pg. 235, 1978. The Bishop Museum Press.
- What is significant about the relationship between Hina and Palila in this moʻolelo? How did they demonstrate aloha for one another? What does this teach us?
- How did Palila’s upbringing help to prepare him for what he faced later in life?
- How did Olomana treat the kanaka on Oʻahu? Did he demonstrate aloha for those around him? What happened to him in the end?
- What life lessons might we learn from this moʻolelo? How might it connect with our ʻōlelo noʻeau?
- Moʻolelo: History, story
- ʻOloa: a type of fine, white bark cloth
- Kapa: a general term for bark cloth
- Anahulu: 10 days, a measurement of time in the traditional Hawaiian moon calendar. There are three anahulu for every lunar month.
- Heiau: a structure of worship, similar to a shrine
- Lāʻau pālau: club
- Kapu: restrictions
Inoa ʻĀina (Wind, Rain, & Place Names)
- Kōloa: Ahupuaʻa on the island of Kauaʻi; Palila’s birthplace
- Alanapō: Famous heiau in Humuʻula, Kauaʻi
- Humuʻula: Area on Kauaʻi where Alanapō heiau is located
- Makapuʻu: Area of Waimānalo, Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu near Kona, Oʻahu
- Kalaeokaʻōʻio: Area near Kualoa, Oʻahu
- Kualoa: Land division in Koʻolau, Oʻahu; considered one of the most sacred places on the island
- Olomana: The largest peak closest to Kailua; A giant and fierce warrior who was greatly feared
Haʻawina (Life Lessons)
Hoʻolohe i nā kūpuna (Obedience to elders)
- Palila was completely dependent on his grandmother Hina, whereas she revived him from his initial cord state. It was Hina who took him to Alanapō to be trained. Had Palila not obeyed his grandmother’s wisdom, he would not have been so successful.
E koa (Be brave and courageous)
- Palila had to be courageous to face the dreaded Olomana. He also had to be witty and think on his feet as ‘Āhuapau initially lied to him.
Content on this page was written and compiled by Johanna Kapōmaikaʻi Stone