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Cultural Feature: Ka huakaʻi a Pele, Migration of Pele

Pele.
Pele. Composite image: Andy Collins

In Hawaiian moʻolelo (stories, historical narratives, mythologies) there are many versions of the epic of Pele and Hiʻiaka. In one account by N.B. Emerson, Pele migrated from Kuaihelani to Hawaiʻi to escape conflict between her and her sister Nāmakaokahaʻi, a deity of the sea. Their journey led them through the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. In the Emerson version, Pele first stopped at the island of Nihoa and decided to leave Kāneapua, her younger brother, behind. Pele╩╗s journey continued down the island chain from spot to spot, until she found comfort in the pit of Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the island of Hawaiʻi. These travels of Pele and her family are recognized as the migration of gods to Hawaiʻi and each version of the moʻolelo gives us important information about the cultural significance of these islands in the northwest.