The wind gourd of La`amaomao

Paka`a – Part VI of a continuing series.

Though it belongs to the Bishop Museum, the wind gourd of La`amaomao, is currently hidden away at the Iolani Palace.

Keawenuiaumi fails to listen to Kuapaka`a’s warning that there is a storm in the channel between Oahu and Molokai.    Although the keiki repeatedly called out to the chief to come ashore, the two enemies continued to exert influence over the ali’i.  They argued that there are no clouds in the sky, so how can there be a storm.  As they continue to travel along the south coast of Molokai, past Haleolono, towards Laau point, Paka`a tells the boy to chant.

The keiki opens the wind gourd of La`amaomao.  Depending on who is telling the story, the bones of Paka`a’s mother or grandmother are in the gourd.  References have been made to the famous La`amaomao who traveled with Moikeha from Tahiti and settled in Haleolono.  He also had a wind calabash to control the winds.  Later he becomes one of the wind deities.  In some versions, it is an actual gourd and in others, it is a calabash which controls the winds.  Regardless of the discussion of its origins and contents, it was powerful.

When Kuapaka`a opens the cover and begins to chant, the calabash releases its forces.  The winds begin to come from Kauai and Oahu.  Then they come from Maui and the Big Island.  The boy chants their names and the places in a litany of descriptions.  For example the wind at Kawela is a cold nose wind.  As he chants the clouds grow dark and the seas swirl.  The entire flotilla is caught in the squall.  The small canoes capsize, the big canoes are swamped and as Keawenuiaumi goes to help, his doubled hull canoe is overpowered by the waves.  The two enemies tell him to pull back into the shelter of land to save himself.  But he answers that he will not let it be said that he abandoned his people.

On a personal note, I have seen one of these violent rains come off the ocean and hit a west end beach. The force lifted grown men holding down easy-up tarps and twisted metal.  It was the wind before the rain which caused all the damage.  The rains lasted less than half an hour before clearing up. 

As Paka`a watches the plight of his ali’i from afar, he tells Kuapaka`a to put the lid back on the calabash otherwise Keawenuiaumi and his entourage will drown.  Slowly the small canoes are righted and the big ones bailed out.  The fleet “limps” back into the shadow of La`au point.  In the distance the ali`i sees the boy and his father still fishing.  He directs the two enemies to head the canoes towards them.  They begin to argue again, but he cuts them off saying because he listened to them in the first place he is wet and cold.  He has finally had enough of their words which only served to manipulate him.

To disguise Paka`a, from Keawenuiaumi, the boy tells the chief that the canoes need to follow Kuapaka`a through the reef into shore.  If they had landed when he had advised them too, the tide would have been high, but now the low tide meant the coral would damage their canoes.   This will allow Paka`a to arrive first and hide. 

Next the father and son begin to plot their revenge.


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