Author Topic: Ke aha ka Momoa? What is the Momoa?  (Read 5875 times)

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Ke aha ka Momoa? What is the Momoa?
« on: April 21, 2009, 04:15PM »
The next time you are down at the beach getting ready to paddle.  Take time to look at our canoes, pay special attention i ka manu hope, at the back end of the canoe.  You'll see basically what you've seen every day since the first day of paddling.  But have you ever noticed at the speical little notch that's there?  Don't know what i'm talking about, just look.  Have you ever wondered?  Maybe the maker just ran out of materials? Got lazy?   

From what I've learned, is that it's there for a reason.  It's called ka momoa.  It's there for one special purpose, a place for ko nā amākua, or akua, or spirit to sit.  When you are out to see, you are basically naked to the elements, open to what Namaka or any other demi-god can or will throw at you.  Whilst out to sea it's a place for a spirit to reside and offer protection.   

From the times of tradition to present, ka momoa has become smaller and smaller.  some modern canoes have all together removed it, but for most, it has always been a part of the canoe because of tradition. 

The story goes:  Pa'ao a priest in Kahiki had a quarrel with his brother, Lonopele.  Both of whom were farmers.  One day Lonopele accused Pa'ao's son of stealing his fruit.  Lonopele says to Pa'ao that if he were to cut his own son's stomach open youwould see the fruit and evidence of stealing. To whcih Pa'ao responded, "If i cut his stomach open and there's no fruit, then what?" Lonopele says, "That action is up to you..."  In the end, Pa'ao indeed cuts his son's stomach open and finds no fruit.  Lonopele gives no remorse.  Pa'ao full of grief tells Lonopele, Ill find a way to kill your son. Then I will leave this land. 

Pa'ao, orders his kalaiwa'a (canoe carvers) to build a well-made canoe.  He then places a kapu on it so that no one were to touch it, until a sacrafice were offered to insure a safe voyage.  Some time had passed and along came Lonopele's son, slapping the sides of the canoe.  Pa'ao heard the sounds and enquired who was slaping the side of the canoe.  His servants told him it was Lonopele's son.  Pa'ao commanded the servants to kill the boy which was carried out.  Then the sacrafice was made to the canoe and the kapu was lifted.  Pa'ao took the boy's body and placed it under the stern of the canoe.  A few days later, Lonopele came by disturbed by his missing son.  Lonopele, saw Pa'ao's canoe and admired it, and it's finishings.  As he approached the stern, he noticed the buzzing of flies.  He found the corpse of his son.  "He was sick with sorrow for his son and wailed grievously. Craze with anger Pa'ao, he said: 'You've done a crazy thing, O Pa'ao! You've killed my son.'"

Pa'ao eventually stocked his canoe and loaded it with provision and his wife, 40 paddlers, and servants.  Upon leaving a prophet on Ka'akoheo cliff wished to depart with him,

"Pa'ao asked, 'Who are you?'

He replied: 'I am a prophet'

'What is your name?'

'Lelelkoa'e (Leaping tropic bird') is my name'

Pa'ao called back to him: 'Leap on to the canoe'"

Lelekoa'e tried to leap for the canoe and fell to the rocks below an died.  More prophets came and all the same, they wanted to leve with him.  One after another they tired to leap for the canoe and all died.  Pa'ao was almost out of sight when one more prophet called out: "O Pa'ao let me got iwth you!"  Pa'ao heard the call.  When he looked back he said:"Who are you?"

"A prophet!" The man replied.

"What is your name"


Pa'ao tells him, "the canoe is full, but there is one place left on the momoa"

"That's my place"

"Then leap!"  The prophet flew like a bird, landed on the momoa, and grabbed the manu (the canoe covering)

The rest is basically tradition, and now you know why we have that notch at the bow of the canoe ;)

There are of course different accounts to this story.  You can find the story here:
« Last Edit: April 22, 2009, 08:44AM by Tama »
"You will be living in the haole time, and the wise thing to do is to move with the time, because time is a thing that belongs to no one....There's only one thing I ask of you, my children - You are Hawai'i, and I would appreciate that you remain Hawaii"