Papa or Papahānaumoku (literally, broad place who gives birth to islands), is the name of the Kanaka Maoli creator goddess in Hawaiian mythology. Together with her husband Wākea (sky father) Papa is the ancestor of all people and Kalo, and mother of islands as the Kanaka Maoli manifestation of Mother Earth.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument was renamed in 2007 to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a variant form of her name.


There are many legends surrounding Papa. She is worshipped by Native Hawaiians, especially by women, as a primordial force of creation who has the power to give life and to heal. A women's temple, called Hale o Papa, is the primary religious structure associated with her worship. Hale o Papa are often built in connection with Luakini, or men's temples (places of "official" ceremony, which are primarily dedicated to the gods and Lono), although it is believed by many practitioners that they may also exist independently.

Widespread destruction of religious structures by the forces of Kahekili II and by the Christian-converted kahuna, Hewahewa have made archaeological proof of many known sites difficult. Some also question the possibility of regular "covering up" and/or "minimizing" of archaeological and historical data, due to the impact of this data on development interests and other economically powerful factors.


According to legend, Papa was born in Halawa Valley, Oʻahu and spent her early childhood there. She travelled throughout the islands, and eventually wed Wākea. Together they had a daughter, Hoʻohokukalani (literally, one who creates the stars of heaven). As the girl grew, Wākea fell in love with his daughter and began to have an intimate relationship with her. He tricked Papa (in some versions of the story, the institution of the kapu system was part of his scheme) in order to keep her away, so that he could seduce Hoʻohokukalani. When Papa discovered the truth, she was furious. However, when Hoʻohokukalani gave birth to a stillborn baby, it was Papa who named the child Haloa and buried him in the soft earth; from that place sprung the first kalo. Hoʻohokukalani again mated with her father Wākea, and had a living child, who was also named Haloa. This child became the ancestor to all Kanaka Maoli, or all humans (depending upon interpretation).

Aloha ʻAina

In the Aloha ʻĀina movement, Papa is often a central figure, as her spirit is that of the life-giving, loving, forgiving earth who nurtures human life, and who is being abused by the misdeeds of mankind, especially in regard to the abuse of nature.

In 2008, Papahānaumoku and Wākea's names inspired the newly inaugurated Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

See also


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