The Cultural Significance of Humpback Whales in Hawaiʻi

November 30, 2020

Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala, seventh generation native Hawaiian descendant, kupaʻāina, from the small island of Lānaʻi

Whales are known as koholā in Hawaiian and have long had a place in the Hawaiian culture. The Kumulipo creation chant speaks about the birth of the whale, “Hanau ka Palaoa noho i kai” (born is the whale living in the sea). The koholā was believed to be a manifestation of Kanaloa, the god of the ocean, and is said to be responsible in helping the Polynesians discover the Hawaiian Islands. Join Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala as he shares that whales are also revered as ‘aumakua (spiritual protector) to specific families and were generally viewed as divine beings.

This presentation is in celebration of November, which is Hoʻi Koholā (Return of Humpback Whale Month).

Photos taken with NOAA Permit 14682-37906 and Permit 782-1438.