“Mai ʻaniha mai ʻoe iaʻu: Do not be unfriendly to me, o Lono” – Hawaiian Religion

#70 in the Moʻolelo series

As most people in Hawaiʻi know, Hawaiians worshipped four major gods (some still worship these): Kū, Kāne, Lono and Kanaloa.

Gutmanis writes that Kū:

arrived in Hawaii with eyes bulging and tongue protruding, announced by the violence of nature. While the earth convulsed and shuddered, quake followed quake and violent whirlwinds tore across the ocean, whipping it into an frenzy … Kū in his many forms established himself as protector of all Hawaii, its various kingdoms and individual families.

Gutmanis, 1983, 4

Manifestations of Kū included Kūkailimoku (Kū-snatcher-of-land), Kū-ke-olo-ewa (Kū-the-supporter), Kū-ka-lani-ʻehu-iki (Kū-the-heaven-sent-spray), Kū-ula or Kū-ula-kai (Red-Kū) and many others. “Other forms of Kū are special to canoe makers, feather gatherers, medical practitioners, hula teachers, and others whose work takes them to the upper forest” (Gutmanis, 1983, 4).


Kāne and Kanaloa came to Hawaiʻi together, according to Gutmanis, and landed at Keʻei, Maui. They left springs behind them as they traveled the islands -Kāne is the god of fresh water. Names for Kāne include Kāne-i-ka-wai (Kāne of the water) and Kāne-koa – “associated with the increase of the oʻopu fish in streams” (Gutmanis, 1983, 5). Other kinolau – body forms – of Kane (kumukahi.org):

• spring water
• sunlight
• coral
• pōhaku o Kāne (upright stones where one would pray and offer sacrifices to an ʻaumakua)
• natural phenomena such as lightning, thunder, rainbows


According to Kamehameha Schools Kumukahi website:

Other ocean-related kinolau of Kanaloa are the naiʻa (dolphin) and the koholā, or whale. Kanaloa is another name for the island of Kahoʻolawe. The island serves as a center for learning open-ocean navigation and healing practices.

Kanaloa has land forms also, particularly the maiʻa (banana), and other plants of medicinal value.

The ‘uhaloa (Waltheria indica) plant is a kinolau of Kanaloa. It is also known by the names ‘ala‘alapūloa, hala ‘uhaloa, hi‘aloa, and kanakaloa. It is used medicinally to treat a number of different ailments.


Some Tongans called themselves Tangaloa/Tangaroa people, suggesting that Kanaloa is an older god in the greater Polynesian genealogy. Tongans, who settled their Southern island group in 1000 BC (1300-1900 years before Hawaiians arrived here), donʻt have some of the other of the four major gods. Always associated with the ocean, Kanaloa is the god of salt water, as opposed to Kāne. In the nineteenth century an effort toward syncretism occurred between Hawaiian religion and Christianity. The Holy Trinity – father, son, Holy Ghost – was associated with the major Gods, but that left one out. Kanaloa was then made into the lord of the underworld, i.e., the ocean. I associate Abraham Fornander, in particular, with this effort.


Lono-i-ka-makahiki, god of the harvest, is connected with ʻuala, pigs, ipu, rain clouds (ke ao uli?) and heavy rain (Gutmanis, 1983, 6). Lono-puha was the patron of lāʻau lapaʻau.

The name Lono today is irrevocably bound with Captain Cook’s arrival. When Cook arrived, the Kumulipo was chanted at Hikiau heiau, Kealakekua Bay, the place where Lono lived when he was a man. A genealogy of names, the last name in Kumulipo is “Lonoikamakahiki,” and Cook may have thought that he was thought to be the god Lono arriving. But the Lonoikamakahiki in Kumulipo is almost certainly the chief of that name, the grandson of ʻUmi-a-liloa who lived around 1700 AD, not the god Lono.*

not Lono!

A prayer to Lono shows his importance to Hawaiian survival:

E Lono I ka pō

E Lono I ke ao

E Lono I ke kaʻina o mua

E Lono-nui a Hina

Mai ʻaniha mai ʻoe iaʻu

O Lono in the night

O Lono in the day

O Lono of the leading forward

O great Lono given birth by Hina

Do not be unfriendly to me, o Lono

Gutmanis, Ka Pule Kahiko: Ancient Hawaiian Prayers, 1983.

*the kaʻai, woven sennit basket, of Lonoikamakahiki was held by, then stolen from, Bishop Museum. So we know that this is a real, not legendary, aliʻi.

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