Aunty Leandraʻs hand.jpg

Moʻo of Mākua Valley

 Moʻo are not simply adorable geckos, but instead, they are fierce creatures that probably have more in common with a dragon than a lizard. This image ("Hiʻiaka and the Moʻo" by Linda Rowell Stevens) depicts two entities that are central to Mākua lore: Pele's sister, Hiʻiaka, and a moʻo. While Hiʻiaka did kill a moʻo earlier in her epic journey to fetch Pele's lover from Kauaʻi, going through Mākua on the way back to Hawaiʻi Island, she did not kill the moʻo of Mākua, who you can read about below.

Moʻo are not simply adorable geckos, but instead, they are fierce creatures that probably have more in common with a dragon than a lizard. This image ("Hiʻiaka and the Moʻo" by Linda Rowell Stevens) depicts two entities that are central to Mākua lore: Pele's sister, Hiʻiaka, and a moʻo. While Hiʻiaka did kill a moʻo earlier in her epic journey to fetch Pele's lover from Kauaʻi, going through Mākua on the way back to Hawaiʻi Island, she did not kill the moʻo of Mākua, who you can read about below.

 

the moʻo of mākua and the shark-man kupua, kamohoaliʻi, of kāneana cave

Moʻo is often translated from Hawaiian into English as simply "lizard." However, moʻo were not harmless small geckos, but rather they were large creatures with long and terrifying bodies. Traditionally, moʻo are associated with fish ponds, and they are considered guardian spirits. The particular moʻo of Kalena Stream, which flows from Koʻiahi and down through ahupuaʻa Mākua, and pond was said to have once been a beautiful girl who lived in the valley. Her parents changed her into a moʻo so that she could not marry the shark-man kupua, Kamohoaliʻi, of Kāneana Cave.

The following story pertains to the Moʻo of Mākua: In heavy rains, the mo‘o came down the stream from Ko‘iahi to meet the shark-man from Kāneana Cave. When the stream flows strong, it breaks through the sand beach and flows into the sea. The mo‘o goes into the sea and goes on the big rock next to the blow hole at the Wai‘anae end of the beach. The rock is called Pōhaku-kūla‘ila‘i. On this rock, she would turn herself into a beautiful princess and call to him. The shark would come out of Kāneana Cave through the undersea channel and swim out to the blowhole. He would then swim into the underwater entrance, and be tossed ashore through the blowhole. He would then turn into a man, and he and the princess would make love. When they were ready they would go to live in the stream. And when the water is green the mo‘o is in the stream. When it is clear, she is not. No swimming is allowed when the mo‘o is in the stream (Kelly and Quintal 1977).