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Monday, November 22, 2004



[ HAWAIIAN MYTHOLOGY ]


Pikoi helps needy
as he tours isle

‘Pikoi Sees Hawai‘i’

THIRTEENTH IN A SERIES

For many weeks Pikoi and the young chiefess lived happily in Hilo. Pikoi was son-in-law of the high chief now, a very great man. He enjoyed games and dances. More than all, he enjoyed his wife.

Hawaiian Mythology
But one day he said to her, "I came to see Hawai'i and I have seen only Hilo. I long to see all of this great island."

The young chiefess smiled at him. "Men long to see the world," she said. "Go then, my husband. Go to Puna first. It may be my father will go soon to our home in Waipi'o and we shall meet you there. Oh travel fast, Pikoi, for I shall be very lonely."

Keawenui chose young men to go with Pikoi, young men who knew the trails, young men who could travel steadily for days. These young men found Pikoi a fine companion, a good walker and wonderful shooter of rats. By the time they reached Puna they were telling of the shots they had seen.

The chief of Puna gave a feast for the son-in-law of Keawenui. At the feast he heard stories of Pikoi's shooting. "He shot rats we could not even see!" the young men said. "He killed the enemies of our high chief."

Hope woke in the heart of the Puna chief. "I, too, have enemies," he said to Pikoi. "Two birds come at night to my gardens and the gardens of my people. They are eating all our food -- kalo, sweet potatoes -- everything. In the morning we find only empty vines. They are bringing us starvation."

"Has no one tried to kill them?" Pikoi asked.

"No one can see them. They come only after dark. In the morning they are gone. But you, O Pikoi! Your young men say that your sight is better than the sight of others. Your skill is greater than the skill of others. O Pikoi, kill those enemies of mine."

"I will try," Pikoi promised.

A little later he left the eating house. Darkness had come. Pikoi stood looking over the chief's garden, bow and arrows in his hands. For a time his keen eyes searched the patches of kalo and potatoes. There! He saw those evil birds and shot. Looking around, Pikoi saw that the men were still inside the eating house. He went to the potato patch to get his arrow but left the dead birds on the ground. Then he went back into the eating house.

It was late when the men made ready for sleep. The chief led Pikoi to the best pile of mats. "This is your place, my friend," he said. "May you sleep well. But, O Pikoi, I beg you to wake at dawn to kill my enemies. When full daylight comes they will be gone."

"I shall wake in time," Pikoi answered as he pulled the kapa covers over him. He was tired and slept soundly.

But the chief could not sleep. Every little while he got up and went to the doorway of the sleeping house. The night was very black.

Dawn at last. Now was the time, the only time to kill those birds! But Pikoi was sleeping soundly. The chief did not know what to do. He said he would wake in time, the chief thought, but he does not wake. Shall I call him? No. He is the son-in-law of Keawenui, too great a man to anger. I dare not wake him. The chief went to the doorway again. With heavy heart he watched the daylight grow.

The sun was shining when Pikoi awoke. He greeted the chief. "Have you been out to look for your birds?" he asked.

"It is too late," the chief answered sadly. "You slept soundly and now the birds are gone."

"Go out and look," said Pikoi.

The chief went. He found the dead birds. "Dead!" he cried joyfully. "My enemies are dead! But what could have killed them?" He stooped to look. "Shot! But who -- ?" Suddenly he knew! He hurried back and met Pikoi outside the sleeping house.

"They are dead!" the chief cried in excitement. "O my friend, I don't know when you did it. But you have killed my enemies! My people will have food!"

The chief of Puna offered Pikoi canoes to finish his journey. "Good!" Pikoi said. "The trails are rough and long." He and his young men paddled. As they went along the coast they stopped at villages, climbed the mountain slopes, looked at the great lava flows and listened to those who had seen Pele coasting down the mountainside on her fiery sled.

One day they stopped for water. "You are welcome to the water which flows from our springs," the people said. "But the springs are on the edge of the ocean and the water is a little salty."

"Let us get water from the mountainside," said Pikoi.

"There is no spring on all the mountainside," the people answered.

Pikoi looked long at the mountain. "Do you see that place where fog rests? Just above it is a spring."

"Not so," the men of the village told him. "We have climbed all over that mountain slope."

"You two," Pikoi said to two of his young men, "climb to that place. Take two men of the village with you and take water gourds. Watch my arrow, for where it strikes the earth, there is the spring."

The men of the village did not want to go. "A long climb for nothing," they said.

"Pikoi is wonderful," his young men answered. "He has shot rats so far away we could not see them. He shot birds in the dark."

"Yes, rats and birds a man may shoot, but no one can shoot a spring where there is no spring!" At last, however, two men said they would go.

The four climbed to the place where fog rested on the mountain, then they turned to look below. They saw Pikoi raise his arms to shoot. They heard the arrow strike the earth above them. In a moment they had reached the place. There was the arrow sticking in dry earth.

"What did we tell you!" said the two from the village. Pikoi's young men pulled out the arrow and water flowed -- cool, clear water. The men of the village stared in wonder. Then they ran down the mountain. "Water!" they shouted. "A good spring that flows freely!" The whole village climbed to see the wonder and to drink the good water of the spring.

Water still flows from that mountain spring.

Newspapers in Education

Every Monday this fall, the Star-Bulletin Newspapers in Education Program and Kamehameha Schools are presenting Hawaiian folklore collections and Hawaiian stories, selected from four titles published by the Kamehameha Schools Press: "The Water of Kane and other Legends of the Hawaiian Islands," "Hawai'i Island Legends: Pikoi, Pele and Others," "Tales of the Menehune" and "Stories of Life in Old Hawai'i."

These books may be purchased at local bookstores and complete editions can also be found on the Hawai'i Digital Library website (hawaiidigitallibrary.org), a sister site of the Hawaiian/English website ulukau.org.

The NIE program helps students and teachers better use and appreciate the newspaper as a tool to promote literacy.

THE CANOES went on. Often the men stopped to feast with a chief or to see the sights of a district. "A large island!" Pikoi said. In his heart he longed to be at home, to see his wife.

Then a runner came. "The high chief has come to Waipi'o," he told Pikoi. "The young chiefess sent me to tell you."

They reached Kohala and had not far to go. They paddled steadily. Pikoi was watching the mountainside. "See that cloud of dust?" he said. "There is a lizard -- a great lizard."

"Yes," one of his young men said. "I have heard of that lizard. A great mother lizard and her children live on this mountain. The people fear them and never climb the slope."

Pikoi laughed. "The lizard is large, that is true," he said, "but she will not kill men. Look!" he exclaimed as he made ready bow and arrow. "I shall shoot the lizard and then one of you climb up and get my arrow."

The young men looked at each other. "But the lizard's children!" they said. They did not want to meet those lizards.

"I shall kill them all," Pikoi promised. "My arrow will go through the mother lizard. It will tangle the tails of the children and kill them too.

"Watch! I shall shoot. If you see little dust clouds running here and there you will know the children have escaped. But that is not what you will see. You will see one cloud of dust rise straight up. Then you will know that all are dead."

The young men watched as Pikoi stood up in the canoe balancing himself. They saw him aim and heard him chant:


"I am Pikoi.

Hush! Be still!

There is an enemy on the mountainside.

I shall have fun with that enemy.

Large lizards! Small lizards!

I shall kill all!

Death to the mother!

Death to the children too!"


The men watched the arrow fly and saw a single cloud of dust rise upward.

"I will go for your arrow!" every young man cried.

"I am not afraid."

"Let me get your arrow, Pikoi!"

Pikoi chose four to go. Soon they were back with the arrow. "It was just as you said," they told him. "Your arrow went through the mother and tangled the tails of the children, killing every one. We have told the villagers. Already they are climbing the mountain to see the dead lizards."

The people of Waipi'o had heard much of Pikoi. They had heard of his killing of the bad-luck birds. They knew he was the husband of their beloved young chiefess and son-in-law of Keawenui, their great high chief. They had heard that Pikoi and his young men were coming by canoe and had set watchers to tell them when he came.

Now word went through the valley. "Pikoi is coming!" A crowd gathered at the landing place. As Pikoi's canoe came close, men waded out to meet it. Strong men lifted the canoe and carried it into the canoe shed. Only then did Pikoi and his paddlers step out to be welcomed by the crowd.

Pikoi went before Keawenui with greeting and with thanks. He found his wife. They wept with joy to be together once more.

"I have seen Hawai'i," Pikoi said, "and now I am at home."


Next week: Woman of the Water



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