Advertisement

Puka Mai He Ko‘a: The Significance of Corals in Hawaiian Culture

  • Toni Makani GreggEmail author
  • Lucas Mead
  • John H. R. Burns
  • Misaki Takabayashi
Part of the Ethnobiology book series (EBL)

Abstract

As the indigenous people of an island chain in the middle of the moananuiākea (the expansive ocean) surrounded by coral reefs, Native Hawaiians have profound ancestral and spiritual connections to the coral. These connections between Hawaiians and coral manifests themselves in a multitude of diverse and pragmatic ways. Yet, the primary Hawaiian wisdom information is accessed and shared through chants, dance, and other daily activities as well as such immemorial forms as dreams and thoughts. Elements of the natural world are described as having intimate kin relations to the Hawaiian people as ancestral akua, or deities. The coral is no exception. Hawaiian people consider coral to be an akua, that provides birth and death to both the people and the islands, possessing much mana, the essence of spirituality. Corals are considered the beginning of life, and are thus the most ancient ancestors of all living things in Hawai‘i. In this paper, we use oral tradition, material culture, and indigenous ecological knowledge to present some of the most salient cultural symbolisms and pragmatic uses given to corals in Hawai’i. Our main objective is to use local perspectives and narratives to emphasize the biocultural, spiritual ecological, and, social relevance of coral to the Native Hawaiian people.

Keywords

Coral Reef Reef Flat Soft Coral Hawaiian Island Reef Zonation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank our Hawaiian akua, kūpuna, kanaka, and generations that will continue to malama and aloha Hawai‘i.

References

  1. Abbott IA, Williamson EH (1984) Limu: an ethnobotanical study of some edible Hawaiian seaweeds. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawai‘iGoogle Scholar
  2. Armitage K (2005) Akua Hawai‘i. Bishop Museum, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  3. Beckwith MW (1970) Hawaiian mythology. University of Hawai‘i Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  4. Beckwith MW (1981) The Kumulipo, a Hawaiian creation chant. University of Hawai‘i Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  5. Dalrymple GB, Silver EA, Jackson ED (1973) Origin of the Hawaiian Islands: recent studies indicate that the Hawaiian volcanic chain is a result of relative motion between the Pacific plate and a melting spot in the Earth’s mantle. American Scientist 61:294–308Google Scholar
  6. Dobbs D (2005) Reef madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the meaning of coral. Pantheon Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Emerson NB (2005) Pele and Hiiaka. A myth from Hawaii. Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation, HiloGoogle Scholar
  8. Evenhuis NL, Eldredge LG (eds) (2013) Records of the Hawaii biological survey for 2012. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 114Google Scholar
  9. Fornander A (1916) Collection of Hawaiian antiquities and folklore. Bishop Museum Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  10. Gregg TM, Mead L (2009) A size comparison of Hawaiian reef zonations along an age gradient from Moku o Keawe, Hawai‘i, to Pihemanu, Hawai‘i. Abstracts for Hawai‘i Conservation Conference, Honolulu, Hawai‘iGoogle Scholar
  11. Gutmanis J (1983) Pule Kahiko: ancient Hawaiian prayers. Editions Limited, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  12. Hiroa TR, Buck PH (1957) Arts and Crafts of Hawaii. Bishop Museum Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  13. Juvik SP, Juvik JO (1998) Atlas of Hawai’i, 3rd edn. University of Hawai‘i Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  14. Kaaiakamanu DM, Akina JK (1922) Hawaiian herbs of medicinal value found among the mountains and elsewhere in the Hawaiian Islands, and known to the Hawaiians to possess curative and pallative properties most efective in removing physical ailments. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, Translated by A. AkanaGoogle Scholar
  15. Kanaka‘ole Kanahele P (2011) Ka Honua Ola. Kamehameha Publishing, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  16. Malo D (1898) Hawaiian Antiquities (Mo‘olelo Hawai‘i). Hawaiian Gazette Co, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  17. Mitchell C, Ogura C, Meadows DW, Kane A, Strommer L, Fretz S, Leonard D, McClung A (2005) Hawaii’s comprehensive wildlife conservation strategy. Department of Land and Natural Resources, Honolulu, HawaiiGoogle Scholar
  18. Pratt LC, Gon SM III (1998) Terrestrial ecosystems. In: Juvik S, Juvik J (eds) Atlas of Hawaii, 3rd edn. University of Hawai’i Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  19. Pukui MK (1983) ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian proverbs and poetical sayings. Bishop Musuem Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  20. Pukui MK, Elbert SH (1986) Hawaiian dictionary, revised and enlarged edition. University of Hawai’i Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  21. Pukui MK, Green LP (1995) Folktales of Hawai‘i. Bishop Museum Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  22. Titcomb M (1978) Native use of marine invertebrates in old Hawaii. Pac Sci 32(4):325–375Google Scholar
  23. Toonen RJ, Andrews KR, Baums LB, Bird CE, Concepcion GT, Daly-Engel TS, Eble JA, Faucci A, Gaither MR, Iacchei M, Puritz JB, Schultz JK, Skillings DJ, Timmers MA, Bowen BE (2011) Defining boundaries for ecosystem-based management: a multispecies case study of marine connectivity across the Hawaiian Archipelago. J Mar Biol 2011:13, ArticleID 460173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tosi J, Watson V, Balanos R (2001) Life zone maps of the Hawaiian Islands. Tropical Science Center, San Jose, Costa RicaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toni Makani Gregg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lucas Mead
    • 2
  • John H. R. Burns
    • 3
  • Misaki Takabayashi
    • 4
  1. 1.Na Maka O PapahānaumokuākeaKawaihaeUSA
  2. 2.Planning DepartmentCounty of Hawai‘iHiloUSA
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentUniversity of Hawai‘i at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Marine Science DepartmentUniversity of Hawai‘i at HiloHiloUSA

Personalised recommendations