In Hawaiian mythology, Hiʻiaka is a daughter of Haumea and Kāne.

Attributes and history

Hiʻiaka was the patron goddess of Hawaiʻi and the hula dancers, and takes on the task of bearing the clouds, variously, those of storms and those produced by her sister's volcanos. She lived in a grove of Lehua trees which are sacred to her where she spent her days dancing with the forest spirits. She is also called Hiʻiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele: "Cloud bearer cradled in the bosom of Pele".

Hiʻiaka was conceived in Tahiti, but carried in the form of an egg to Hawaiʻi by Pele, who kept the egg with her at all times to incubate it. Hiʻiaka is Pele's favorite and most loyal sister, although they have also had their differences.

At one point in time, Pele left her body to appear in spirit at a festival on Kauaʻi (in most versions of the legend; another variation has her visit Kauaʻi physically while first seeking a home)[1] where she fell in love with a young chief named Lohiau. Upon her return, she longed for him and decided to send a messenger to bring him to her. Hiʻiaka volunteered to go on the dangerous journey, as long as Pele would protect her sacred grove of Lehua trees and her friend, Hopoe (meaning "one encircled, as with a lei or with loving arms").

Pele agreed to Hiʻiaka's request, but insisted that she return with Lohiau within 40 days. She also instructed Hiʻiaka not to fall in love with Lohiau, or even embrace him.

Palauopalae, the Guardian of the Ferns, was sent to be Hiʻiaka's companion. Along the way, a woman by the name of Wahineʻomaʻo (or literally, "light-skinned woman") joined them. Hiʻiaka's journey was filled with many adventures, such as dueling with the kupua (demons) of the island forests, but when at last she reached Kauaʻi she found that the young chief had died from longing for Pele. She was able to revive him with chanting and prayer, but she was not able to return to Pele within 40 days. Pele, fearing that Hiʻiaka had betrayed her and was keeping the handsome chief for herself, became enraged and not only destroyed Hiʻiaka's sacred Lehua forest, but also killed Hopoe, turning her into stone.

When Hiʻiaka returned, seeing her friend dead and her forest ravaged, she took revenge on Pele and embraced Lohiau. In retaliation, Pele sent waves of lava at the couple. Hiʻiaka was unharmed, but Lohiau was killed by the lava. Again, Hiʻiaka revived him, thus bringing him back to life twice.[2]

Pele, regretting her actions toward Hiʻiaka's forest and friend, decided to let Lohiau choose who he wanted to be with. Some versions of the legend say that Lohiau chose Hiʻiaka over Pele and returned with her to Kauaʻi. Others say he decided to remain with the both of them. Still others say that he retreated to Kauaʻi alone. But it is most widely believed that after their long and dangerous journey from Kaua'i, Lohiau had come to love and greatly admire Hi'iaka for her bravery, loyalty, kindness and beauty. He chose her for his wife and took her back to Kaua'i to be with him.

Hiʻiaka sisters

There were "twelve" or "forty sisters",[3] all daughters of Haumea. [The word /hiʻi-aka/ has the meaning of 'embryo',[4] and is a compound of /hiʻi/ 'to hold or carry in the arms (scil., a child)' and /aka/ 'embryo at the moment of conception; carefully'.]


One sister included Hiʻiaka-i-ka-pua-ʻenaʻena: "The skin of any person she possessed reddened. She was also known as Kuku-ʻena-i-ke-ahi-hoʻomau-honua (beating hot in the perpetual earth fire), and in this guise she was ... guide to travelers lost in the wilderness, and vanished when they found their way. She was also known as Hiʻiaka-i-ka-puaaneane (Hiʻiaka in extreme old age). Lit., Hiʻiaka in the smoking heat."[5]


They also included Hiʻiaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele : "One of her forms was the palaʻā lace fern ... one of the first plants to grow on new lava. ... She instituted the eating of fish from head to tail. ... Lit., Hiʻiaka in the bosom of Pele."[6]

Defeating monsters

Soul-journey in "a deep sleep during which the spirit leaves her body":[7]- "Hiʻiaka fights and overcomes a number of ... monsters.

  • The moʻo woman Panaewa, who impedes her way first in the form of fog (kino-ohu), then of sharp rain (kino-au-awa), then of a candlenut (kukui) tree, she entangles ... in a growth of vine ... .
  • Two moʻo, Kiha and Puaʻa-loa (Long hog), are caught in a flow of lava ... .
  • The shark at the mouth of Waipio valley who seizes swimmers crossing the bay is met and slain.
  • Moʻolau, chief of the jumping mo'o (mahiki) in the land of Mahiki-waena, is defied ... .
  • Two moʻo, Pili and Noho, who make travelers pay toll at the bridge across the Wailuku river, are rent jaw to jaw and the way opened for free traffic."

Shamanic soul-catching

  • "Refused hospitality at the home of the chief Olepau [or Kaulahea] in Iao valley, Hiʻiaka avenges the insult by catching his second soul, as it goes fluttering about as he lies sleeping, and dashing it against the rock Palahele near Waiheʻe."[8]
  • "Peleula is a famous makaula or seer, but Hiʻiaka prevails over her. Waihinano, the pert sorceress who defies her on Maui, has been brought up by Kapo and Pua, but Hiʻiaka catches and crushes to death the soul of the Maui chief for which they both contend. ... Pele gives Hiʻiaka to Paoa as his wife and he returns with her to Kaua'i".[9]

See also


  1. "Part Two: Children of the Gods XI: The Pele Myth" from
  2. Glen Grant 1999.
  3. William D. Westervelt : Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes. 1916. p. 69
  4. Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert : Hawaiian Dictionary. U Pr of HI, Honolulu, 1971. p. 64a, s.v. "Hiʻi-aka"
  5. Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert: Hawaiian Dictionary. U Pr of HI, Honolulu, 1971. p. 383b
  6. Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert : Hawaiian Dictionary. U Pr of HI, Honolulu, 1971. p. 383a
  7. Martha Beckwith : Hawaiian Mythology. Yale U Pr, 1940. p. 173
  8. Martha Beckwith : Hawaiian Mythology. Yale U Pr, 1940. p. 174
  9. Martha Beckwith : Hawaiian Mythology. Yale U Pr, 1940. p. 184


  • William Westervelt (1999). Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes. Mutual Publishing. 

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