The Legend of Kamapua'a
Hola, Aloha & Gùng Héi Faat Chōi!
In the spirit of welcoming the Year of the Boar (it begins today!), here is an abridged, wildly incomplete retelling of the Legend of Kamapua'a, the famed Hog Man of Ancient Hawai’i. Think of it as a pupu. An amuse bouche to stir your appetite for Hawaiian myths and lore.
Are you here to find amazing pork recipes in celebration of the coming year? Scroll down. They’re down there, just scroll.
Kamapua'a, the aforementioned world-famous Hog Man of Ancient Hawai’i, was born sometime before 1200 B.C.E. to Hina, whose mother and father came to Hawai’i from Kahiki.
His father was Kahiki'ula, who happened to be the much younger and handsomer brother of Olopana, a chief on O’ahu and Hina’s husband! #drama
Hawaiian names can be challenging for English speakers, so here’s a short list of our main characters:
Kamapua’a - our protagonist
Hina - his mom
Kahiki’ula - his biological father… mebbe? Read on!
Olopana - Kahiki’ula’s brother, Hina’s husband, and Kamapua’a’s uncle and step-father… or is he???
Some accounts recall that Hina actually took both brothers as husbands which was not unheard of in pre-contact Hawai’i. Whatever the truth is, Olopana wasn't stoked about the situation.
In the version of this story where Hina is married to only Olopana, it’s actually unclear who Kamapua’a’s real father is. Olopana assumes the child is his brother’s, but Hina denies this. Olopana names the baby "Kamapua'a" (meaning "hog child") in a cruel gesture of disavowment and promptly assumes the role of wicked stepfather. As a matter of course, Kamapua'a turns out to be super-duper handsome and athletic, out-competing his half-brothers in sport and winning countless fans throughout the district. This only further embitters Olopana who at some point banishes the young man lest he be sent to death if he does not comply.
In other versions of this story, Kamapua'a is born literally half human, half hog, and is wholly rejected by Hina herself. Here, Kamapua’a’s grandmother is the only member of their entire ‘ohana to accept him as he is. Grandma’s are the best. She raises him somewhere out in the wilderness.
Either way, it should surprise no one that Kamapua'a turns out to be wildly irreverent, falls easy prey to trouble and troublemakers, and becomes a sort of a pirate/bandit/Peter Pan meets Tyler Durden meets Furiosa type of guy. He makes his home in the wilderness where other rebellious characters come to live with him and assist in wreaking havoc on Olopana's lands.
In one raid, Kamapua’a is caught by Olopana's men four times in a row, each time being freed by his grandmother via a powerful chant. Eventually, Kamapua'a slaughters all of his captors save for one who he uses as bait to lure Olapana into a trap. The plan works and Kamapua'a again kills everyone who plays the enemy, including his step-father, but then spares the life of that same guy who he used before as bait! #style
Following several adventures (and misadventures) on Kaua'i, then in Kahiki, and at presumably other places too, Kamapua'a and his band of misfits (including his sister, Makahanaloa, who is a goddess of fog, rain, and lovemaking) travel to the island of Hawai'i where they learn about an enchanting, mysterious family who live in Puna district, home of the volcano Kīlauea. They are also told that a woman of particular beauty and supernatural power is among these people, and so Kamapua'a sets out to meet her and make her his wife. This woman is of course the goddess Pele.
One passionate account tells of an epic battle that ensues between K