The Gods Who Found Water

Ka-ne and Kanaloa were great travellers. Together they journeyed over Kauai, coming (according to an account written in the Kuokoa about 1868 by the Rev. J. Waiamau) from far-away lands. They appeared more like men than gods, and the Kauai people did not worship them, so they opened up only a few springs and crossed over to the island Oahu.

Throughout all the islands the awa root has been found. It was bitter and very astringent, but when crushed and mixed with water the juice became a liquor greatly loved by the people. “These two gods drank awa from Kauai to Hawaii,” so the old legends say.

They journeyed along the coast of the island Oahu until they came to Kalihi, one of the present suburbs of the city of Honolulu. For a long time they had been looking up the hillsides and along the water courses for awa—but had not found what seemed desirable.

At Kalihi a number of fine awa roots were growing. They pulled up the roots and prepared them for chewing. When the awa was ready Kanaloa looked for fresh water, but could not find any. So he said to Ka-ne: “Our awa is good, but there is no water in this place. Where can we find water for this awa?”

Ka-ne said, “There is indeed water here.” He had a “large and strong staff,” in some of the legends called a spear. This he took in his hands and stepped out on the bed of lava which now underlies the soil of that region. He began to strike the earth. Deep went the point of his staff into the rock, smashing and splintering it and breaking open a hole out of which water leaped for them to mix with their prepared awa. This pool of fresh water has been known since the days of old as Ka-puka-Wai-o-Kalihi (The water door of Kalihi). The gods, stupefied by the liquor, lay down and slept. When at last they were weary of that resting-place, they passed Nuuanu Valley and went into the most beautiful rainbow valley of the world, Manoa Valley, the home of the rainbow princess. This valley is one of the well-settled suburbs of Honolulu.

Well-wooded precipices guard the upper end of the valley and make difficult the path to the tops of the mountains rising thousands of feet above.

Here the gods found most excellent awa, and Kanaloa cried, “O my brother, this is awa surpassing any other we have found; but where shall I go to find water?” Ka-ne replied, “Here in this hillside is water.” So he took his staff and struck it fiercely against the precipice by which they had found awa. Rapidly the rocks were broken off. The precipice crept back from the mighty strokes of the god and a large pool of clear, cool water appeared among the great stones which had fallen. There they mixed awa and water and drank again and again until the sleep of the drunkard came and they rested by the fountain they had made. This pool is still at the head of Manoa Valley, and to this day is called Ka-Wai-a-ke-Akua (The water provided by a god).

The servants of hundreds of chiefs have borne water from this place to their thirsty masters.

In the days of Kamehameha I. very often messengers came from this pool of water of the gods with calabashes full of water swinging from the ends of sticks laid over their shoulders. When they came near any individual or group of Hawaiians they had to call out loudly, giving warning so that all by whom they passed could fall prostrate before the gift of the gods to the great king.

Ka-ne and Kanaloa made many springs of fresh waters in all the different islands. Sometimes a watchman refused to let them take the desired awa—the legends say that they called such persons stingy, and caught them and put them to death. At Honuaula they broke a large place and made a great fish-pond.

They went to Kohala, Hawaii, and found a temple in which they lived for a long time, and the people of Hawaii thought they were gods. Therefore they brought sacrifices and offered worship, and Ka-ne and Kanaloa were satisfied to remain as two of the gods of the islands.