Hawaiian Word of the Day: heiau
heiau: Pre-Christian place of worship, shrine; some heiau were elaborately constructed stone platforms, others simple earth terraces. Many are preserved today. Several types are listed below. On the island of Kauaʻi where I live, there are 17 heiau located in the Na Pali district, 22 in the district of Haleleʻa, 20 in the Koʻolau district, 13 in the Puna district, and 81 in Kona district. Dedication of these heiau were to the four major gods; KU, KANE, KANALOA, and LONO, who represented Akua in natual phenomena. ʻAumakua were also honored by prayer and offerings.
Hale heiau, house of worship.
heiau hoʻōla: Heiau for treating sick.
heiau hoʻouluʻai: Heiau where first fruits were offered to insure further growth. Lit., heiau for the increase of food crops.
heiau hoʻoulu ua: Heiau where offerings were made to insure rain.
heiau hoʻoulu iʻa: Heiau where fish were offered to insure good fishing.
heiau kālua ua: Heiau for stopping rain, or (less frequently) for bringing rain. One such heiau named Imu-Kālua-ua (rain-baking oven) was in the Kaunakakai quadrangle, Molokaʻi; a land section in Puna, Hawaiʻi, also has this name. Rain in leaf packages is said to have been baked in an oven.
heiau maʻo: Small temporary heiau covered with tapa stained green (maʻo). Used for the hoʻouluʻai ceremony to bring food.
heiau poʻo kanaka: Heiau where human sacrifice was offered.
heiau waikaua: Heiau used for services to bring success in war.
luakini: Temple, church, cathedral, tabernacle; large heiau where ruling chiefs prayed and human sacrifices were offered; to perform temple work.
Luakini-type heiau were the largest and most complex and were sacrificial to KU. The KANE heiau were the simplest and were accessible to commoners. LONO heiau were dedicated to agriculture, and KANALOA heiau were associated with fishing. KU and LONO required complex worship and offerings.
Puʻu honua were places of refuge and restoration of pono when kapu was broken. The puʻu honua were consistent with Hawaiian protocol and would not be adjacent to heiau where human sacrifice was conducted. For example, at the puʻu honua at Wailua, Kauaʻi were for royal birth and burial. At such a place of mana and esteem, respite and peace was sought and mau haʻa lelea or repentance was made.