Hau is native to most tropical countries in the Pacific. It is believed that hau was brought to
Hawaii by the early settlers. (Intorduced) It is found from the shore to an elevation of about
Because of its usefulness Hau was held in very high regard and it was a serious offence for a
Maka’ainana (commoner) to cut any hau without first obtaining permission from a Konohiki or
Ali’I to do so.
In addition to being used for ‘iako and ama, hau was vitital for making fire. Rubbing a harder
wood like ‘ohi’a or olomea against a piece of hau was how fire was made.
The bark of the hau was used for making rope and kapa. Pieces of Hau were used for floaters
for fishing nets.
Hau grows in thick tangled forests with its branches that naturally curve frequently creating
A natural arch required for a good ‘iako. Shaping an arch into a hau log by steaming in an
Imu has been described. It was also a practice to train and shape young braches of the hau
into the desired arching shape with the use of other branches and ropes.
Two types of Hau are recognized:
Hau ko’I’i: Very hard wood, flower and leave have a reddish tinge to it, bark has many
folds. Flower Stems remain on the branch ends for a long time forming dry
clusters of Stems. Planted for shad and wind breaks.
Hau kae kae: Yellow flower, smooth bark , wood is softer than Ko’I’i . This type was
Used for ‘iako and ama. The bark was used for making cordage and ropes.