The Hawaiian Creation Story

The importance of the Hawaiian Creation Story in a traditional perspective is that we go back to the beginning.  The body has a schematic where it was created in perfection.  And so in traditional healing, what we are doing is facilitating energy to take the body back to that schematic so that healing can take place.  So one of the distinguishing factors is we don’t refer to illness, we say “dis-ease” and dis-ease simply means that you’re off track and you have to get back on track by easing to that pathway to healing.

In modern science, they’ve gone back to stem cell research, which really goes back to the schematic of the body, taking the body back to those stem cells as they were created in order to address whatever need the body has in healing.

So, what we’re doing in terms of taking the person back to the Creation Story, is letting them know that within themselves is the healing path.  So it’s between them and IO, or the Creator that the healing can take place.  So it is a spiritual venture back to the beginning.  And so, the Kumulipo, which is the Hawaiian Creation Story, was used in the interpretation of these symbols and petroglyphs that were created.



The Honu Trail petroglyphs represent the Hawaiian Creation story.

On the outside of the Traditional Healing Center is located the PULOULOU, signifying sacredness.  This was a symbol that preceded all royal processions showing that our Royal family was guided and connected to the divine.  So, the PULOULU was simply a staff with the round ball at the top that was covered in white kapa, representing spirituality.

The next petroglyph on the inside gate of the Healing Center is AO HOLO OKO A (the universe) the creation of the whole made by independent entities.  This is signified in the petroglyph by concentric circles, which are independent entities that are included making up the whole. The kumulipo suggests an ever-expanding universe that is perpetual.

In the sequence of the Creation story, NA HOKU (the stars).  “At the time when the heavens turned and changed, all the time of the night of the makalii (Pleiades)”, so were created the heavens, and the stars, and planets in the universe. The stars are a gift for navigation and wonderment.  Stars were also used to tell the future and to guide people in their life’s journey.

The next symbol in the petroglyphs is HOO KAHUA O NA HOKU (the solar system).  “At the time when the light of the sun was subdued to cause light to break forth”, so was created the solar system with the sun as the center and the planets revolving around the sun. Night and day were created.

And in the progression HOO HONUA (creation of the earth).  “Then came the slime that established the earth. The source of deepest darkness, of the depth of darkness, of the depth of darkness of the depth of the sun, in the depth of night, it is night, so night was born.”  This acknowledges the rotation of the earth and the forming of day and night.

In that progression HOO AINA (creation of the land, separation of the water).  “From the sea a coral insect was born, from which was born perforated coral. From the land of the earthworm was born, which gathers earth into mounds.”  …”Through a channel water in life to the trees.”...”That filled and kept filling, and filled and kept filling until it was full, and supported the earth, which held the heaven.” “The sea spread, the land spread, the waters spread, the mountains spread.” The water is separated in the sea, the land separated with fresh water and the clouds are formed. The petroglyph shows a horizon line with waves above and below the horizon line signifying the separation of water and the land.

In the progression of creation, next was created the life in the sea and this life in the sea is represented by the Mano – the shark.  Then from the shark came the HONU – the HONU is the turtle.  “Night was born of great delight, night was rolled for the pleasure of the gods, night gave birth to the split back turtle.” The turtle emerges as a sea and land creature. The petroglyph indicates a stronger line on the front fins of the turtle to indicate the development and linkage of sea animals to the winged flying animals.

MANU - Ka Iwa was born and became parent. Birds covered the land of Kanehunamoku. These birds born of the land and the sea...A night of flight by noises, through a channel, the IO is life to birds, so the gods may enter, but not man,” The birds were created to link humans to IO the Creator.

OHANA O KA AINA (family of the land and sea).  This petroglyph is three images combined to create a petroglyph of Ohana. “He was man and she was woman, The man was born in the dark age, and the woman was born in the age of bubbles brought forth Poeleele, a man, (Darkness) who lived with Pohala, a woman (Bubbles), and brought forth generations of Haha (Taro tops), the Haha was born.” These images were long legs indicating the Hawaiian race thousands of years ago. The body forms of Hawaiians changed as they became people of the ocean with shorter legs because of the high utilization of the upper body in paddling. Another characteristic is the hollowed head of the child which indicates innocence and egoless, whereas the adults have full outlined heads to indicate challenges the and opinions set in schematics.

From the family emerged the WAA KAULUA – the WAA KAULUA is the double hulled canoe.  The Hawaiians voyaged all over the Pacific Ocean in double hulled canoes. The great Navigator Hawaii Loa was the first to settle in Hawaii with his family. Hawaii was a promise land and it was named accordingly. Ha, the spirit of, wai over the sacred water of I, the Creator. Reference is sometimes made to IO the Creator as the Word as one, I is the creator O is the Word, IO is the Word and the God as one.  The canoe is often referred to as a moku or island that takes a community to new horizons and landfall.

In the Creation story HALOA (son of Papa and Wakea).  Haloa is the ancestor that Kalo honors. Haloa died as a young boy and where he was buried grew a Kalo plant. One tradition held in Hawaiian families is that as long as the poi bowl is uncovered there is no arguing or disagreements at the table. Other families will not engage in conversation during the meal in honor of Haloa and the gift of Kalo. In this petroglyph, Kalo symbolizes good nutrition and diet. Kalo was a major food for Native Hawaiians.
In the progression and understanding of health, HOO PAANI – is exercise.  The chosen symbol was used to portray a paddler. If you look at the paddle there is a face in the paddle which means that they were guided by the paddle to reach wherever their destination was. Exercise was not a separate activity from regular life. Exercise was included as a living activity like work.

And with the journey came POHO IPUKUI ME LA AU KUI PALU, which is the mortar and pestle.  This petroglyph is presented for medicinal and healing practices of the Hawaiians. The mortar and pestle are symbols of lokahi or balance. The pestle is male energy, represented in the ku form and the mortar is female energy. When used together to grind or blend medicine it brings these energies together in harmony. The example here is to have balance of energies in all things in our lives.

The MANO was a very important family member in Hawaii.  “And fish was born, the Mano was born in the sea and swam.” The Mano was born as an elder Aumakua, animal spirit, linked to the human family to guide and assist the human beings. The Mano served as a guardian and protector. Mano was also important in leading the Hawaiians on voyages to discover new horizons and land fall.

The next symbol is the symbol of COMMUNITY.  This symbol represents the community coming together to create an art piece that had seven artists doing their individual work around a circle representing community. The artist making the contribution to this piece is the 1) Dolphin (Naia) by Puna Wright, 2) Canoe (Waa) by Joe Momoa, 3) Mana (Male & Female energy and Lokahi) by Kahekili Clark, 4) Honu (Turtle) by Kaua Clark, 5) Hui Hee Nalu (bodysurfer) by Keha Clark, 6) San Scritfor the first sound) by Sooriya Kumar and 7) Circle of Aloha as the center of community by Kauila Clark.  I want to thank these artist for coming together and representing our community here in Waianae in expression of health and healing.



On the Princess Kawananakoa trail petroglyphs there symbolizes a man with an aura or rainbow over his head showing the sacredness of his being (BLESSED MAN). This may be used as a symbol of a priest or holy person.  In the Hawaiian mythology the women were given the first blessing - and that blessing was to be able to bare children.  The men were given the secondary blessing, which was to carry the priesthood or care for the spiritual life of people.

In the Laau, the BAMBOO grows to about 15 feet tall and is of a thin walled variety which proved to be great for making nose flutes and Puili which was used by warriors for training and  later converted to a hula implement used for timing and rhythm. Bamboo was also used for water containers, construction, rafts, and other functional poles. The roots were used as an edible food.



On the Legacy Trail there are three symbols that represent the care that is given at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.  The first symbol is for ALLOPATHIC MEDICINE and it has two parts.  One is a wooden staff, which is a personification of healing arts and ideals from Greek tradition.  And the single serpent encircling the staff, represents renewal of youth as the serpent cast off his skin.

The second symbol is one of NATIVE HAWAIIAN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE.  This symbol is represented by the Puloulou, the sacred stick of spirituality.  The two rectangles represent the halau or school and the pewa,which is the butterly patches to mend cracks represents healing.  And so the whole petroglyph reads, “the sacred school of healing.”

The third symbol that was created to represent the care that is given at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center is for INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE.  The Integrative Health Model of Care is represented by a petroglyph with multiple images ~ the large circle meaning the holistic care: the cross is the four sacred directions where arrow heads indicating the inner and outer energies used to integrate medicine; and the inner circle which indicates the light in all things used in all methodologies.

The energies of the universe are called upon and brought into the healing process and as the person heals, those energies are given back to the universe as whole and complete.



The Laau Trail Petroglyphs – LAU KAHI (the first herb), low growing herb, considered to be a weed. Used internally as a tea, as a poultice by applying to the outside of the body or used with Paakai (Hawaiian sea salt) for bruises, muscle tears and broken bones. The Native Hawaiian variety of Lau Kahi is a bush that grows to be about 6 feet tall. The results of the non-native and the Native Hawaiian herb have similar end results.

The LAU KI or the ti leaf is from the Lily family.  Ki has very few branches and all the leaves grow from the stem. Ti plants will grow to be about 10 feet tall. Only the pure green flat leaf variety is used for medicine. Lau Ki was used for cooking, making bundles, roof thatching, rain coats, sandals, and hula skirts. Ti was used for cooling fevers, headaches, and bandages for wounds. It was also used to wrap warm stones to apply to aching muscles. Symbolically, the Lau Ki was used in ceremonies as the kino lau of IO, the Hawaiian Hawk, to carry prayers to IO the creator.

OLENA, also known as tumeric is from the ginger family. It grows for three seasons and then dies. At that time the roots turn to powder and that is what is used for medicine. Olena is a mild antibiotic. It is used as a seasoning for cooking and also used for repairing the body’s internal organs.

ULU was another important resource to the Native Hawaiians. It provided food from the fruit. When baked in an imu it has a doughy consistency hence the name breadfruit. The fruit can also be cooked and pounded into a light colored poi. The wood was excellent to make wood implements and was favored for poi boards. Ulu tree sap was a strong glue used for various types of projects.

KUKUI - Ancient Hawaiians used the meaty potion of the nut strung on the mid rib of a coconut leaf. Each nut would burn for 3 to 5 minutes and would light successively creating a candle light. The kukui is also known as the candle nut.  The kukui had many medicinal purposes and uses. Kukui is a strong laxative.  The sap is a remedy for thrush in young children and the oil from the kukui nut was used for omega 3 oil.  The oil was also used to protect wood products and as a lotion for skin. In contemporary times the kukui symbolizes as a ornament or for jewelry purposes.  It symbolizes enlightenment and education.

AWA is a strong drink. Hawaiians did not use Awa as a social drink but rather used it as medicine. The bitterness of the Awa was a lesson to patients who consumed it that it was to make them strong reminding them of the bitterness in life. Awa is a mild narcotic that numbs your tongue, then your toes and then your body. It was used for aches and pains.


COCONUTS were taken with the Native Hawaiians wherever they traveled. It was a very important resource. The nut provided water, and meat food. The leaves were used for plaiting and thatch and the logs for construction. The fiber from the husk made sinnet or cordage. The shells were used for bowls and the milk was used for food. The coconut fiber was used as a strainer for the milk. The husk was used for fire fuel. The oil was used for preserving wood products and used as a lotion for the skin and hair.  In the 1800’s, when copra plantations were functioning, coconut oil was used for many products in the west such things as perfume, fuel oil, lotions, and cooking oil.

The GUAVA - the fruit and the leaf shoots were used as medicine. This medicine is used to stop diarrhea or loosened stools.

GINGER - There are many types of ginger and this one symbolized is the shampoo ginger or Awapuhi. Ginger was used as a tea for respiratory congestion. It was also used for wounds and cuts to draw out the infection.