Hawaiians knew about Hawaii before they arrived

VIEWPOINT
by CHARLES K. MAXWELL SR.

The Maui News
Friday, July 13, 2001

The Maui News editorial on July 9 entitled "Many reasons for picking Maui" does not make sense.

Either the writer of this editorial wanted to be philosophical or whimsical in speaking about my ancestors, who came here 2000 years ago and found these islands by chance.

Anthropologists can only guess how this happened? Well, let me tell you that our kupuna (elders) told us so. I also can trace my mo'o ku'auhau (genealogy) to the first migration all the way back to Aotearoa (New Zealand), more than 30 generations ago. Our ancestors created chants, or oli, which told of historical facts that occurred in ancient times. Our history, like the genealogy of our alii (royalty), was memorized and passed on orally from one generation to the other.

Let me assure you that the story of the creation of Hawaii, where the earth goddess Papa mated with the sky father Wakea, creating these islands as their children, was well known throughout the Pacific. When their kahuna (keeper of the secrets) told them it was time to occupy these islands, they did. The islands all had names, the channels, rivers and mountains were named. By using the stars and their wisdom of the ocean, they came equipped with their women, children, plants, animals, their gods and goddesses, and set sail for Pae 'Aina O Hawai'i (the Hawaiian archipelago). Leading their canoe was the shark god Kamohoali'i, who guided them to Hawaii.

For the kanaka maoli, our history is all we have and to say that we descended from a newcomer is wrong, because our ancestors populated every corner of the Polynesian Triangle long before the Europeans and Westerners even knew the world was round. The sailing of the Hokule'a had to be accomplished not to convince us, but to prove to the modern world where we came from. We evolved from the ocean like our Kumulipo (creation chant) tells us.

The missionaries did not want to save my ancestors from "spiritual ignorance" as The Maui News editorial says, they wanted to take away the land that was more valuable to plant their sugar cane and pineapple instead of sweet potato and taro. One just has to stand on Haleakala to see who owns the majority of the lands on Maui. Ask yourself: "Did the missionaries come here to do good, or did they come here to do well?"

Our culture, lands, lifestyle were taken and changed. Do not take away our history, because it is our legacy to the past and our beacon to the future.

Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. lives in Pukalani.


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