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Moʻolelo by Ola:
There was a time not too long ago that taking a cruise in Waikīkī meant something very different. Before the Alawai, Kalākaua and Kūhiō Avenues, before the hotels and traffic lights. Waikīkī has long been a playground for kanaka, royalty and post-contact some of the most unique people in the world. Princess Kaʻiulani was raised on the shores and waterways of ʻĀpuakēhau and loved visitors to her home. A man by the name of Robert Louis Stevenson (the Steven Spielberg of those days) learned of this young impressionable princess. While on his stay here in the islands he would spend time walking the short distance from Kaneloa (stretches from the area where Kapiʻolani Park is to the waters of the famous surf break Kalehuawehe) to Ainahu with Kaʻiulani to sit under the banyan tree that was affectionately named “Kaʻiulanis Banyan.” He gave her the name Island Rose.
Enter “In the Southern Sun,” the first time a concert has been allowed on these shores. We were honored when asked to partner with our long-time friends at NMG Network and Kimo Kennedy to develop an experience for the next generation of Aloha Festivals patrons. Our first thoughts were, how can we activate stories of old and place reverence back on the land we are occupying. The event name is a nod to a line from “Island Rose,” a poem about Princess Ka‘iulani by the famed novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. While recovering from a bout of tuberculosis, Stevenson stayed as a guest of the princess in her family’s cottage at Sans Souci. Moved by her gracious hospitality and spirit of aloha, he penned “Island Rose,” which speaks of Ka‘iulani’s journey to Scotland, away from her beloved islands “in Southern sun.” Moreover, In The Southern Sun celebrates the rich history of the South Shore of O‘ahu, from the uplands of Mānoa and Pālolo to the lowlands of Kāneloa and Kapua.
"Forth from her land to mine she goes,
The island maid, the Island Rose,
Light of heart and bright of face,
The daughter of a double race.
Her islands here, in Southern sun,
Shall mourn their Kaʻiulani gone,
And I, in her dear banyan shade,
Look vainly for my little maid.
But our Scots islands far away
Shall glitter with unwonted day,
And cast for once their tempests by
To smile in Kaʻiulani's eye."
It is with this we base our moʻolelo and building of this new experience for the next generation. But there is more, along with the uniqueness of the area we also have to mālama our watershed and our inspiration of our branding. We honor wind and rain as evidence in our naming and mele. Rain is necessary for things to ola and when its wela days the wind brings much-needed comfort and relief. So it felt right to follow the waters of this ahupuaʻa up to the watershed. We were also inspired by Kahalaopuna (Keiki o ke Ānuenue; the Rainbow Maiden):
Kahalaopuna was born of the Haukani wind and the Tuahine rain of Mānoa Valley. Both of whom were born to Akāka and Nālehuaoakāka. For centuries, Mānoa valley has been regarded as the royal palace of rainbows where the beautiful Kahalaopuna can be seen playing wherever the light of sun or moon touches the misty rain. Natives of the valley often called Kahalaopuna by the name of Keiki o ke Ānuenue; the Rainbow Maiden.
Kahalaopuna was promised at a young age to a chief of Kailua, Koʻolaupoko, Kauhi. Growing up in Mānoa, close to Waiakeakua, on the Waʻahila side of the valley, people would come up to the fence of her house just to see her astounding beauty. Some of these men would bedeck themselves in lei and head down to the famous surf break in Waikīkī, Kalehuawehe. In times of good surf, people would gather from near and far to witness and partake in the fun of surfing at Kalehuawehe. While there and surrounded by crowds these men, bedecked in lei, boasted of their conquests of the beauty of Mānoa, Kahalaopuna. One of the men in this crowd was Kahalaopunas betrothed, Kauhi. Upon repeatedly hearing these lascivious accounts, Kauhi came to believe the stories and was filled with rage for his betrothed of which he had yet to even meet.
Kauhi headed inland, intent on exercising his rage. On the way, he rested under a hala tree and broke off an ahui hala as he continued. Upon reaching Kahalaopunaʻs house, she was on her way to bathe in the spring. After finishing, Kauhi took Kahalaopuna on a walk away from her house. Angry with Kahalaopuna, he killed her and buried her where no one would find her. However, Kahala's guardian spirit, an owl, scratched at the earth until her body was uncovered and once again joined her body with her spirit. Upon coming back to life, Kahalaopuna began singing a song of sorrow and asking her betrothed to believe her and not the accounts of others. Kauhi had not advanced very far away and turned around to see her alive. Filled again with rage, Kauhi took Kahalaopuna away again. Kauhi killed Kahala again and buried her. Again, the owl restored her to life. This happened several times, finally Kauhi buried Kahalaopuna under the intact roots of a Koa tree. These roots made it impossible for the owl to dig her up and revive her. The owl decided that so much time had passed, that Kahala's spirit surely must have descended to the underworld, and thus he abandoned his task.
An ‘elepaio witnessed the murder and flew to tell Kahaukani and Tuahine of what took place. During this time, a man passing by let the ghost guide him to the great koa tree where he found the earth disturbed amidst the roots of the tree. He tore the roots away and dug until he uncovered the battered body of Kahalaopuna. Although lifeless, the man hoped that Kahala's spirit may still be restored to her body and he took her to his elder brother who was a renowned kahuna (priest). The powerful kahuna chanted and prayed. Long into the night, he called upon all his skill and experience to restore Kahalaopuna, but utterly failed. In desperation, he called upon two spirit sisters who were family guardians. The sisters found Kahalaopuna spirit and guided it back into her body through her feet while the kahuna performed the chants to restore life.
With the help of the spirit sisters, Kahalaopuna was nursed back to her original beauty and health and their love grew deep and strong. However, Kahalaopuna would never be safe while Kauhi still lived, so the man devised a plan to entice Kauhi into combat. He began to visit the areas that Kauhi played sports and gambled. He taunted Kauhi until finally, Kauhi admitted that he had killed the rainbow maiden. He declared that Kahalaopuna was alive and in his home. To this, Kauhi insisted that the woman in his home was an imposter. Kauhi was so sure that Kahala was dead, that Kauhi challenged him to present her to the chiefs of the district including Kahalaopuna’s grandfather, Akāka. If Kauhi was proven wrong, he would be baked alive in an imu (oven). If he was proven right, the man would be the one to be baked alive.
The man decided that the proposition was much more favorable than combat, in which he had a chance of losing his own life, so he quickly agreed. He was so agreeable, that Kauhi became suspicious and consulted with kahuna of his family. To prevent deception, it was decided that there would be a test to detect ghosts. The kahuna would be prepared to invoke spirits from the Underworld to come and fetch any wayward ghosts and deliver them to the Underworld, for punishment.
Kauhi followed the instructions of his family kahuna and spread the delicate leaves of the ape plant over the ground where Kahalaopuna was to walk and sit before the chiefs for judgment. It was said that a human walking over the leaves would bruise and tear them, while a spirit would leave them undisturbed.
The day of judgment arrived and the imu was prepared for the sacrifice. The king and chiefs were all assembled including Akāka, and Kauhi sat nearby where he could watch the maiden's arrival closely. As Kahalaopuna made her way towards that path strewn with ape leaves, the spirit sisters, who walked beside her, recognized the test. They could not leave Kahalaopuna for fear that it would arouse suspicion, so they whispered to her instructions to bruise as many leaves on either side of her so that the sisters would not be discovered as spirits.
Slowly and regally, Kahalaopuna approached the chiefs leaving a wide trail of broken and bruised leaves. Kauhi's chief sorcerer declared that he could detect ghosts nonetheless and demanded that a second test be implemented. As it was believed that a reflection of a face in water was the face of a spirit, the sorcerer demanded that a calabash of water be brought forth. In his eagerness to catch a spirit face in the water, he leaned over the calabash, presenting his own spirit face. Before he could lean back and restore his spirit to his body, Akāka sprang forward and grasped the reflected face in his hands, destroying the spirit.
The sorcerer fell dead beside the calabash and Kauhi was seized. As agreed, he was baked alive in the imu as punishment for his crimes along with the men who had spread the rumors which birthed Kauhi’s rage, and his lands and retainers were given over to Kahalaopuna who lived long with the man who saved her, and with a rainbow over their roof.
The FITTED for In The Southern Sun capsule not only celebrates reverence of Land, Water and People, but it also fills the ʻeke for this monumental event, which took place this past Saturday at Queen’s Surf Beach. It was the first of its kind, making these commemorative pieces incredibly important to us, and we’re extremely proud to have been a part in such a momentous and inspiring event.