The Canoe In A Cultural Context

Without the canoe there would not be a Hawaiian People. The canoe made it possible for the ancestors of the Hawaiians to travel thousands of miles across open ocean and colonize the most isolated group of islands on the planet.  It  allowed the Hawaiians to harvest while effectively managing the ocean resources that surrounded them.  How the canoe was designed and operated was based on their "World View".  At the Center of the Hawaiian "World View" were some core cultural beliefs.

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Kumulipo: Consciousness of the Universe

The Kumulipo is one of three famous creation chants of the Hawaiian People.   Built upon older chants but composed in its present form some time around  1700, the Kumulipo traces the development of the Universe, the emergence of life and the creation of man. Hawaiian Scholar and University professor Ruby Johnson says "While it was not the intention of the Hawaiian priests who composed the Kumulipo to explain the universe in scientific terms, the Kumulipo is comparatively rational for its non-mystical treatment of biological relationships and cosmic time."  It also forms the foundation for the cultural belief that everything in the universe is connected and that everything in the Universe has a consciousness.

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Duality of Nature

 

It was apparent to early Hawaiians that things in nature appear in paired opposites and these opposites depend on each other to complete a function or create a whole. It is the balance or lack of balance between these natural forces that create positive or negative conditions.

 

Herb Kawainui Kane

In the Polynesian social system the first born ( Hiapo) had special privileges and status along with responsibilities to guide and take care of younger siblings (Poki'i). The Poki'i, in return for the protection afforded by the Hiapo, served and attended to the needs of the Hiapo.

 

.When the world was inhabited only by spirits, Wakea mated with Ho'ohokulani and to them was still born an immature fetus. This fetus was named Haloa and was buried near their house. In time a taro plant grew from where the fetus had been buried.  Sometime latter a second child was born and this child became the ancestors of Humans. His name was also Haloa. 

 

In this story Man is the younger sibling to the Taro and nature in general.  In this Poki'i status man must be responsive to the needs of Nature and in turn Nature will protect and provide for Man.

Mans Place in the Universe

 

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