ʻAilāʻau The Forest Eater

Lesson 0902P

Describing Things with Kāhulu

INSTRUCTIONS: This lesson follows 0901P: Practice Describing Things, so be sure you have done that one first. Now, take a few minutes to read the brief story about ʻAilāʻau shown below. Then read the directions and see my examples in the grey box. I have included some suggestions for vocabulary that you can use below the story. You will be creating kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu structures that match elements in the story. If you would like to download the original book from which this story came, please go to Google Books and search for either Westervelt or the name of the book (shown below).

ʻAilāʻau, The Forest Eater

From “Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes” by W. D. Westervelt (1916), with slight spelling modifications for Hawaiian language students by Kaliko Beamer-Trapp.

When Pele came to the island Hawaiʻi, seeking a permanent home, she found another god of fire already in possession of the territory. ʻAilāʻau (ʻAi-lāʻau) was known and feared by all the people. ʻAi means the “one who eats or devours.” Lāʻau means “tree” or a “forest.” ʻAilāʻau was, therefore, the fire-god devouring forests. Time and again he laid the districts of South Hawaiʻi desolate by the lava he poured out from his fire-pits. He was the god of the insatiable appetite, the continual eater of trees, whose path through forests was covered with black smoke fragrant with burning wood, and sometimes burdened with the smell of human flesh charred into cinders in the lava flow. ʻAilāʻau seemed to be destructive and was so named by the people, but his fires were a part of the forces of creation. He built up the islands for future life. The process of creation demanded volcanic activity. The flowing lava made land. The lava disintegrating made earth deposits and soil. Upon this land storms fell and through it multitudes of streams found their way to the sea. Flowing rivers came from the cloud-capped mountains. Fruitful fields and savage homes made this miniature worldbuilding complete. ʻAilāʻau still poured out his fire. It spread over the fertile fields, and the natives feared him as the destroyer giving no thought to the final good. He lived, the legends say, for a long time in a very ancient part of Kīlauea, on the large island of Hawaiʻi, now separated by a narrow ledge from the great crater and called Kīlaueaiki (Kīlauea-iki, Little Kilauea). This seems to be the first and greatest of a number of craters extending in a line from the great lake of fire in Kīlauea to the seacoast many miles away. They are called “The Pit Craters” because they are not hills of lava, but a series of sunken pits going deep down into the earth, some of them still having blowholes of sputtering steam and smoke. After a time, ʻAilāʻau left these pit craters and went into the great crater and was said to be living there when Pele came to the seashore far below. In one of the Pele stories is the following literal translation of the account of her taking Kilauea: “When Pele came to the island Hawaiʻi, she first stopped at a place called Keahialaka (Ke-ahi-a-Laka) in the district of Puna. From this place she began her inland journey toward the mountains. As she passed on her way, there grew within her an intense desire to go at once and see ʻAilāʻau, the god to whom Kīlauea belonged, and find a resting-place with him as the end of her journey. She came up, but ʻAilāʻau was not in his house. Of a truth he had made himself thoroughly lost. He had vanished because he knew that this one coming toward him was Pele. He had seen her toiling down by the sea at Keahialaka. Trembling dread and heavy fear overpowered him. He ran away and was entirely lost. When Pele came to that pit she laid out the plan for her abiding home, beginning at once to dig up the foundations. She dug day and night and found that this place fulfilled all her desires. Therefore, she fastened herself tight to Hawaiʻi for all time.” These are the words in which the legend disposes of this ancient god of volcanic fires. He disappears from Hawaiian thought and Pele from a foreign land finds a satisfactory crater in which her spirit power can always dig up everlastingly overflowing fountains of raging lava.

Kikino (noun-like words)

ka mokupuni island
ka home1 home (residence)
ka hale house (building)
ka poʻe people (singular kaʻi but plural meaning)
ke ahi fire
ka ʻāina territory
ka nahele2 forest
ka pele3 lava
ka lua pele fire-pit (crater)
ka uahi smoke
ke ola life
ke one ʻā volcanic cinder (lit., burnt sand)
ke kahena pele lava flow
ka lepo earth (soil)
ke kahawai stream
ka ua rain
ka ua nui rain storm
ka lua puhi pit-based blowhole
ka māhu steam
ka lihi ʻāina the edge of the land (eg. seashore)
ka ʻiʻini, ke ake the desire to see or have something
ka huakaʻi journey
ke kahua foundation
ka ʻaʻā4 ʻaʻā lava (the broken and very rough type)
ka pāhoehoe5 pāhoehoe lava (the smooth, rippled type)
  • 1. Obviously, the word “home” is from English. Pronounce it in a Hawaiian way, however.
  • 2. Be careful to use no kahakō in “nahele”. Only “nāhelehele” has a kahakō, as do many words reduplicated in such a fashion (eg. malama, mālamalama)
  • 3. Pele capitalized is the woman; pele uncapitalized is the lava she creates.
  • 4. Be sure to pronounce this as shown, with the second kahakō.
  • 5. Most non-Hawaiian language speakers mispronounce this; be sure to pronounce the kahakō and stress evenly the three main pieces: “pā-“, “hoe”, and “hoe”. Do not only stress the first “-hoe-“.

ʻAʻano (words describing a state or condition)

paʻa permanent; complete
kamaʻāina acquainted, familiar with something
makaʻu afraid
ʻōneanea cleared (as desolate land)
pōloli hungry
hauna stinky
ʻeleʻele black
pulu wet (soaked)
momona fertile (of soil)
makaʻu afraid
kahiko ancient
kaʻawale separated
mua first (in sequence)
hope last (in sequence)
hohonu deep
nui intense (eg. ka ʻiʻini nui)
lōʻihi long
hakahaka empty (of a space)
nalowale lost (disappeared), vanished
paʻahana very busy with work
makaʻu fearful
mau abiding (permanent); fastened tight
fulfilled; completed
kūpono satisfactory; proper, appropriate
ʻā fiery, burning, alight

Hehele (action words without an object)

hele to travel (on two feet)
holo to travel (on a canoe); to run
huakaʻi to travel (a journey)
hōʻea to arrive (at a destination)
kahe to flow (as water)
ua to rain
noho to live, reside somewhere; sit, stay in a single spot
to stop at a location; to stand still; to stand upright
piʻi to climb up; to go uphill
iho to descend; to go downhill

Hamani (action words which act upon something or someone)

ʻimi to search for something
ʻai to eat something
hoʻokumu to found something (to begin the creation of sth.)
luku to destroy something
unuhi to translate something
hana to make or do something
hoʻoholo to decide on something; to plan to do something
ʻeli to dig into something
As you did in the last lesson (0901P: Practice Describing Things), take the vocabulary words and write them onto index cards or into your notebook and study them until you start to remember them. You don’t have to be perfect at recalling them at this time because you can look them up anytime! Although it is possible to print this page right from your computer, I think you’ll find that writing the words will (1) make you see each word better, and (2) help you to see its shape better so you can recognize it later on. If you did not do the practice numbered 0901P, or you do not know what a kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu sequence is, then you should go back to the start of the 0900 series with 0900: Basic Kāhulu, Introduction and also find videos about this subject in the Coursework Index. The goal of this lesson is to be able to read the story in English and then create kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu sequences from parts of the story. I have provided many vocabulary words for you, so you should be able to have fun all day without having to look up even one word from the online dictionary! Some important points for this, the second homework lesson about kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu sequences:
  • kaʻi: the leading word before a memeʻa, such as ka, ke, nā, kekahi, and he.
  • memeʻa: a content word which could be any one of four types, kikino, ʻaʻano, hamani, or hehele
  • kāhulu: a memeʻa word functioning as an adjective or adverb, meaning that it adds a description to the preceeding memeʻa. ʻAʻano are very frequently used as kāhulu.
Make up as many combinations as seem to make sense using the vocabulary in this lesson, and any other memeʻa you might know already or look up in the online dictionary. I am not asking you to try to translate the story; that would be very hard indeed at this stage! All you should try to do is synthesize in your mind some short three-word kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu sequences based on the story content, write them down, and say them to yourself over and again. Here are some examples from the first paragraph:
When Pele came to the island of Hawaiʻi, seeking a permanent home, she found another god of fire (=a fire god) already in possession of the big island. ʻAilāʻau (ʻAi-lāʻau) was feared by the Hawaiian people at that time. He was indeed an ancient god, a hungry god, living in the deep pit up on the mountain. …

Some Example Sentences

he home mau a permanent home
kekahi akua ahi another god of fire (lit. another fire god)
ka ʻāina nui the great territory; the huge land
ka poʻe makaʻu the fearful people
ke akua ‘ai the eating god
ka mea luku the destroyer (lit., the one who destroys)
Now here’s the fun part! Go and try the quiz for the kikino vocabulary words (0902Q.1: Vocabulary Quiz #1 for ʻAilāʻau) to see how many you remembered. The final part to this lesson is to now go out and try to use these kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu combinations. Think about the story and recall, in mini kaʻi + memeʻa + kāhulu fragments, your feelings about some of the elements in the story. Perhaps you will even be able to make up some more on the fly! I hope so.

aloha ʻāina Kaliko

Pane mai

Send comments, corrections, or questions about this page to Kumu Kaliko.