In Hawaiian religion, the deity Lono is associated with fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music and peace. In one of the many Hawaiian stories of Lono, he is a fertility and music god who descended to Earth on a rainbow to marry Laka. In agricultural and planting traditions, Lono was identified with rain and food plants. He was one of the four gods (with , Kāne, and Kāne's twin brother Kanaloa)[1] who existed before the world was created. Lono was also the god of peace. In his honor, the great annual festival of the Makahiki was held. During this period (from October through February), war and unnecessary work was kapu (forbidden). In Hawaiian weather terminology, the winter Kona storms that bring rain to leeward areas are associated with Lono. Lono brings on the rains and dispenses fertility, and as such was sometimes referred to as Lono-makua (Lono the Provider). Ceremonies went through a monthly and yearly cycle. For 8 months of the year, the luakini (temple) was dedicated to Ku-with strict kapus. Four periods (kapu pule) each month required strict ceremonies. Violators could have their property seized by priests or overlord chiefs, or be sentenced to death for serious breaches.[2]

Figure of Lono-71.1879.10.11-DSC00191-black
Late 18th-century figure of Lono, on display at the Louvre.

Lono and Captain Cook

Some Native Hawaiians may have misidentified Captain James Cook as Lono's incarnation, which may have later caused Cook's death (see Third voyage of James Cook). It is uncertain whether Cook was mistaken for the god Lono, or one of several historical or legendary figures also named Lono-i-ka-Makahiki. It was traditionally held that the god Lono had appeared as a human who then established games and the annual taxing. Before departing to "Kahiki", he promised returning "by sea on the canoes ʻAuwaʻalalua". An unidentified queen identified it as a "Spanish man of war", recalling the alleged arrival of a Spanish galleon. Mary Pukui interpreted this as "very large double canoe", from ʻAu[hau]-waʻa-l[o]a-lua. However, Pukui may have been referring to the Portuguese man o' war, which Hawaiians called ʻAuwaʻalalua.[3]

Other Lonos

Better known to the Hawaiian mythology is an earlier Lono-i-ka-makahiki from the ʻUmi line of ruling Hawaii Island aliʻi (i.e., chiefs, royalty). This Lono was born and raised near the graves of Keawe and his descendants, which were near the place of Captain Cook's monument. This Lono may have cultivated the arts of warfare and puns as well as riddle games and spear-dodging games for the Makahiki.[3]

However, it is unlikely either late ruling chiefs on the ʻUmi line was the mythological Lono who departed to Kahiki. Both chiefs were born in Hawaii, and no legend tells of either of them sailing away with a promise to return. A more plausible candidate for the god Lono is the legendary Laʻa-mai-Kahiki (i.e., the "Sacred-one-from-Tahiti), who purportedly lived several centuries earlier. Laʻa came as a younger member of the Moikeha family of North Tahiti, older members of whom had settled earlier in the Hawaiian archipelago. He brought with him a small hand-drum, and a flute for the hula. Upon his arrival, the locals heard his flute and the rhythm of the new drumbeat, believing it was the god Kupulupulu. Kupulupulu was worshiped as god of the hula, who also took the form of the flowering lehua tree as well as the god of native fauna that sustained early Polynesian settlers. Especially on Oahu, this Laʻa-mai-kahiki took wives in various districts. Oahu Island was the stronghold of Lono's worship, where many families claimed descent from La'a. He seems to have sailed back to Tahiti at least once before his final departure. This traveler of a great Tahitian family, who appeared like a god, enriched the New Year festivals with games and drama, ultimately influencing the Hawaiians into believing he was a god.[3]

Hunter S. Thompson

The late Gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson wrote that he believed himself to be the resurrected Lono while on assignment in Hawaii for Running magazine with artist and friend Ralph Steadman. In a letter included in the book The Great Shark Hunt, Thompson describes his arrival to Kailua Bay in 1981:

The word traveled swiftly, up and down the coast, and by nightfall the downtown streets were crowded with people who had come from as far away as South Point and the Waipio Valley to see for themselves if the rumor was really true - that Lono had, in fact, returned in the form of a huge drunken maniac who dragged fish out of the sea with his bare hands and then beat them to death on the dock with a short-handled Samoan war club.

Thompson's writings on the experience have been compiled into a book, The Curse of Lono, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. As Lono, Thompson is shown as wearing the head of a marlin as a mask, with his eyes doubling as the eyes of the fish.

See also


  1. ^ The Kumulipō, line 1714
  2. ^ Cordy, Ross "Exalted sits the chief: The ancient History of the Hawai'i Island". Honolulu, HI Mutual Publishing (2000), 61
  3. ^ a b c Beckwith 1951.
  • Thompson, Hunter (1979). The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time, 1st ed., Summit Books, 105-109. ISBN 0-671-40046-0.
  • Martha Warren Beckwith (1951). "The Kumulipō".
  • Leilehua Yuen (includes role of Lono in the Makahiki). "Makahiki, the Hawaiian New Year". Archived from the original on 2013-01-28.
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Hawaiian religion encompasses the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Native Hawaiians. It is polytheistic and animistic, with a belief in many deities and spirits, including the belief that spirits are found in non-human beings and objects such as animals, the waves, and the sky.

Hawaiian religion originated among the Tahitians and other Pacific islanders who landed in Hawaiʻi between 500 and 1300 AD. Today, Hawaiian religious practices are protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Traditional Hawaiian religion is unrelated to the modern New Age practice known as "Huna."


Kaikilani was a legendary figure in Hawaiian native oral tradition who dates to around the 16th century in the western calendar. She was married to Lonoikamakahiki (Lono) who was heir to the throne of the main island, the moiship. When the king died Lono did not feel he was ready for the responsibility of kingship and declined to rule until he had mastered the martial skills. Kaikilani stepped into his place and ruled as the first chieftess in Hawaiian history. When Lono had shown his martial skills to the satisfaction of his subjects he returned and took up the throne.

A crater on the planet Venus has been named Kaikilani in her honour, see List of craters on Venus.


In Hawaiian mythology, Kāne is considered the highest of the four major Hawaiian deities, along with Kanaloa, Kū, and Lono, though he is most closely associated with Kanaloa. He represented the god of procreation and was worshipped as ancestor of chiefs and commoners. Kāne is the creator and gives life associated with dawn, sun and sky. No human sacrifice or laborious ritual was needed in the worship of Kāne.

In Hawaiian mythology, Kū or Kūkaʻilimoku is one of the four great gods. The other three are Kanaloa, Kāne, and Lono.

Feathered god images or ʻaumakua hulu manu are considered to represent Kū. Kū is worshipped under many names, including Kū-ka-ili-moku (also written Kūkaʻilimoku), the "Snatcher of Land". Kūkaʻilimoku rituals included human sacrifice, which was not part of the worship of other gods.

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Lono-a-Piʻilani was the Moʻi of Maui. He was a king of that Hawaiian island and was named after god Lono.


The Makahiki season is the ancient Hawaiian New Year festival, in honor of the god Lono of the Hawaiian religion.

It is a holiday covering four consecutive lunar months, approximately from October or November through February or March. The focus of this season was a time for men, women and chiefs to rest, strengthen the body, and have great feasts of commemoration (ʻahaʻaina hoʻomanaʻo). During Makahiki season labor was prohibited and there were days for resting and feasting. The Hawaiians gave thanks to the god Lonoikamakahiki for his care. He brought life, blessings, peace and victory to the land. They also prayed to the gods for the death of their enemies. Makaʻainana (commoners) prayed that lands of their aliʻi (chief) may be increased, and that their own physical health along with the health of their chiefs be at the fullest.In antiquity, many religious ceremonies occurred during this period. Commoners stopped work, made offerings to the chief or aliʻi, and then spent their time practicing sports, feasting, dancing and renewing communal bonds. During the four lunar months of the Makahiki season warfare was forbidden which was used as "a ritually inscribed means to assure that nothing would adversely affect the new crops."Today, the Aloha Festivals (originally Aloha Week) celebrate the Makahiki tradition.


Piʻikea (Hawaiian language: piʻi = "to ascend", ke = "the", ea = "life"; "the life ascends") was a High Chiefess, a Princess of Maui and Queen consort of Hawaii. She was born ca. 1626.

She was a daughter of King Piʻilani and Queen La’ieloheloheikawai and sister of Kings Lono and Kiha. Piʻilani built a great temple; according to the myth, he was a son of Kū.

Piʻikea went to Hawaiʻi and married their King ʻUmi-a-Liloa. Their son was called Kumalae. They also had a daughter, Aihākōkō.

When Kiha had to flee from Maui, he sought refuge with Piʻikea, at the court of ʻUmi. Here his sister advocated his cause so warmly, and insisted with ʻUmi so urgently, that the latter was induced to espouse the cause of the younger brother against the older, and prepared an expedition to invade Maui, depose Lono, and raise Kiha-a-Piʻilani to the throne of his father. ʻUmi summoned the chiefs of the various districts of Hawaii to prepare for the invasion of Maui. When all the preparations were ready, ʻUmi headed the expedition in person, accompanied by his wife and her brother and by his bravest warriors. Crossing the waters of ʻAlenuihāhā Channel between Maui and Hawaiʻi, the fleet of ʻUmi effected a landing at Kapueokahi, the harbour of Hāna, Maui, where Lono had continued to reside after Piilani's death.

Having failed to prevent the landing of ʻUmi's forces, Lono retired to the fortress on the top of the neighbouring hill called Kauwiki. ʻUmi laid siege to the fort of Kauwiki, and, after some delay and several unsuccessful attempts, finally captured the fort, and Lono having fallen in the battle, Kiha-a-Piʻilani was proclaimed and acknowledged as a king. Having accomplished this, ʻUmi and his forces returned to Hawaiʻi.

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The Curse of Lono is a book by Hunter S. Thompson describing his experiences in Hawaii in 1980. Originally published in 1983, the book was only in print for a short while. In 2005 it was re-released as a limited edition. Only 1000 copies were produced, each one being signed by the author and artist Ralph Steadman. Due to Steadman's popularity the book contained a large number of his drawings and paintings. The book is now available as a smaller hardcover edition.

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Waka, in Hawaiian mythology, is a lizard goddess worshipped by female chiefs. In the Ha'inakolo narrative, she was sent in the form of an eel to bar Lono-kai from the land of Kū'ai-he-lani. When Lono-kai caught the eel and cut it open, a beautiful woman emerged who attempted to seduce him. In the Lā'ie-i-ka-wei narrative, Waka acts as the guardian of a beautiful girl until she can find her a suitable husband.The Waka Mons, a mountain on Venus, is named for her.

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