The hala (pandanus; Pandanus odoratissimus and Pandanus tectorius) tree in Hawaiian culture is highly valued and used for various goods including weaving, cordage, lei (garland), laʻau lapaʻāu (Hawaiian healing medicine), straining ʻawa (kava; Piper methysticum), male flowers (known as hīnano) were used to scent homes, and fruits were eaten in times of famine.
The ʻōhiʻa can be found in countless oli, mele, ʻōlelo noʻeau, and moʻolelo that describe its connection to the ʻāina (land) and akua (gods). The ʻōhiʻa is also mentioned in passing in the Sixth Era of the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian genesis story.
Hala & ʻŌlelo Noʻeau
Ōlelo Noʻeau—Hawaiian sayings—offer wisdom, stories, lessons, poetry, and humor. These sayings can also reveal deeper meanings and can carry double entendres. ʻŌlelo noeʻau does not just apply to Hawaiian culture, but to understanding humanity.
Treasured Hawaiian historian, Mary Kawena Pukui, collected, translated, and annotated the nearly 3,000 proverbs between 1910 to 1960.
The collection of sayings below, speak to the connection of hala to East Hawaiʻi—specifically the moku (districts) of Hilo, Puna, and also of Kaʻū.
Na niu ulu aoʻa o Mokuola.
The tall, slim coconut trees of Mokuola.
Mokuola (now called Coconut Island) in Hilo, is a place where pandanus and coconut trees were numerous.
-Mary Kawena Pukui, ʻŌlelo Noʻeau #2281