Ka Wai Ola

By Dr. Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa
The Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and the Gladys Kamakakūokalani Brandt Chair of Comparative Polynesian Studies presents a mini-symposium March 15-28 with noted scholars from Aotearoa, Hawai‘i, Tahiti and Tonga entitled “Atua: Polynesian Ancestors, Stars and Temples.”

When we look at ancestral Polynesian knowledge, we find many similarities and some fascinating differences. For example, in Hawai‘i we speak of Earth Mother Papahänaumoku/Haumea and Sky Father Wākea. In Aotearoa, the Māori revere Earth Mother Papatūānuku and Sky Father Rangiätea. But almost everywhere else in Polynesia, including Tahiti, the ocean atua (Kanaloa, Tangaroa or Ta‘aroa) is the creator of the universe. Why is there a difference?

And our ancestors in Hawai‘i, Tahiti, Ra‘iātea, and the Marquesas have zero degree north temples that measure the sun’s movement through the sky. These temples helped the ali‘i to predict weather using three main star constellations: Scorpio, Orion and Pleiades. Do all Polynesians have the same names and understandings for these important stars? Sometimes yes; sometimes no.

The experts in ancestral knowledge who are presenting at the symposiums include: Heipua Bordes of Mo‘orea; Mo‘ohono Niva of Ra‘iātea; Hironui Bouit of Tahitinui; Dr. Rangi Matamua, of Tūhoe and Waikato University; Dr. Tēvita O. Ka‘ili, Professor of Cultural Anthropolgy at BYUH in Lā‘ie; Kalei Nu‘uhiwa of Māui; Pualanikeali‘i Lincoln Maielua; and Dr. Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa, Senior Professor at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, UHM.

In order to cover these topics properly, we will sponsor two-night symposiums at two different venues: BYUH and UH Mānoa.

At each venue, the first night will focus on ancestral creation stories and the second night will focus on the major star constellations that measure the sun’s movement.

Dates and Venues:

Tuesday, March 17: Heber J. Grant Building, BYUH. Pūpū at 5:00 p.m., Lecture (Ancestral Creation Stories) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 18: Heber J. Grant Building, BYUH. Pūpū at 5:00 p.m., Lecture (Stars and Temples) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 25: Hālau o Haumea, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, UH Mānoa. Pūpū at 5:00 p.m., Lecture (Ancestral Creation Stories) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 26: Hālau o Haumea, Kamakaküokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, UH Mānoa. Pūpū at 5:00 p.m., Lecture (Stars and Temples) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Live Video Streaming will be available at ‘Oiwi.tv from UHM! Look for more Brandt Mini-Symposiums April 5-11 on Polynesian Herbal Medicine, and May 9-16 on Polynesian Visual Arts. For more info contact lilikala@hawaii.edu or tevita.kaili@byuh.edu.