Hauwahine is a shapeshifting Hawaiian diety who protects Kawainui Marsh, the largest open wetland of Kailua. In the stories of Hauwahine, she watches over the marsh, alternately appearing as a beautiful Hawaiian woman, or a huge lizard/dragon creature called a mo’o to charm or threaten humans as needed to cultivate positive behavior. Stories of mo’o taught values of community and sustainability such as sharing food generously, caring for the land, avoiding overfishing, and paying attention to seasonal water safety. Here I have used an age-old technique of narrative paintings, showing multiple forms of Hauwahine simultaneously. She sits in human form on the promontory of her own mo’o form while the white fairy tern, another of Hauwahine’s forms, soars over the modern marsh toward the rising sun.
After learning several mo’olelo (legends) from kumu (Hawaiian teachers), a pattern emerged in my mind. I noticed there is often sensitive observation of rock forms that inform the lore of each area, so imagine the “chicken skin” moment when I saw the huge rock that forms Hauwaine’s favorite promontory, Na Pohaku Hauwahine (Boulders of Hauwahine), is shaped like a giant lizard or dragon head! I tried to make my painting reflect the scale of the massive rock. Land around the marsh has been developed, but the legend of Hauwahine is strong, and the marsh remains undeveloped and wild, a miracle that I consider to be the result of environmentalists, Hawaiians, flood plains, and the spirit of Hauwahine working in tandem to keep the land green.
Kaneana Cave is the womb of the Earth Goddess, wife of Kane. A stunning rock formation that looks like her spine soars overhead in the center of the main chamber. Oahu’s earliest human inhabitants, the kupu ka aina (ferns from the land) emerged from these sacred depths, their path symbolized by silvery ferns. If you look carefully, you can see them lead to a smaller entryway to the deep tunnels.
It is impossible to describe the mysterious feeling of the cave. It inspires awe.