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Pasifika Foundation Hawaii: Tales from the Night Rainbow

Tales from the Night Rainbow

In 2005, Pasifika Foundation Hawai’i provided the funding for the publication of Tales from the Night Rainbow: Mo’olelo o na Po Makole.


This small but important book recounts the oral history of the Kai’akea family of the Mo’o Clan of Moloka’i, which traces its roots back to an estimated 800 B.C. These stories are recorded as told by Kaili’ohe Kame’ekua of Kamalo, Molokai (1816–1931).

The tales were collected by Koko Willis and Pali Jae Lee and first published in 1986 as a compilation of remembrances for the children of the ‘Ohana Kame’ekua, as the family elders wanted the children to know who they were and the history of their family.

In 1990 a larger, more expanded version was published and made available to a wider audience. Further small printings were made in 1994 and 2001, but the book’s appeal and significance made it very difficult to keep in stock.

Pasifika Foundation Hawai’i felt that the message of this little book was an important one to be kept in circulation, and provided the funding for a large printing of the sixth edition. It can be ordered from a number of vendors, including Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii:

Order from Native Books

Some excerpts from Tales From the Night Rainbow:

From page 17:
“Most Hawaiian histories have been written from the pathways taken by foreigners who wrote Hawaiian history as they saw and believed things to be. It was not a Hawaiian view, or from a Hawaiian pathway. These stories I tell you are taken from my family, on Moloka’i. They are the stories as told by Kai-akea to my teacher and beloved mother Ka’a kau Makaweliweli and she in turn taught those of us who were part of her halau (school) in Kapualei.

“The ancient ones were the people who were maoli (native) to Hawaii. Seven or eight years ago the Tahitians came to our islands, and since then the stories of our origins and lifer have been dominated by their outlook. In many ways the Tahitians were a people similar to us, but in other ways we were as light is to the dark. The early ones lived with an attitude about life that gave them what we would call great mana (power) over their surroundings, but it is really the power of love and kinship working through the feelings of the objects we live among.”

From page 18-19:
“It was the belief of our family line that we had been here from the beginning. People had gone out from our land to the East and to the West, and populated other lands. We had chants that told of such migrations from our islands.

“We taught by stories and parables. One of the earliest and most important to us was:

“Each child born has at birth, a Bowl of perfect Light. If he tends his Light it will grow in strength and he can do all things – swim with the shark, fly with the birds, know and understand all things. If, however, he becomes envious or jealous, he drops a stone into his Bowl of Light and some of the Light goes out. Light and the stone cannot hold the same space. If he continues to put stones in the Bowl of Light, the Light will go out and he will become a stone. A stone does not grow, nor does it move. If at any time he tires of being a stone, all he needs to do is turn the bowl upside down and the stones will fall away and the Light will grow once more.”

The stories or parables were teachings and reminders. The maoli had stories of vines, trees, seeds, fish, earth, sea and sky: the things that were common to the people and that they understood. When a child began to speak, the family began to teach him about the world of which he was a part.”