The Legend Of Chief Hala'ea

August 08, 2021

The Legend Of Chief Hala'ea

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Before Kamehameha united the islands of Hawaiʻi, the people of the islands were separated by ruling chiefs. There once was a greedy chief known as Halaʻea who ruled the south point of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Legend has it that every day, the fisherman would fish along the coast of Kaʻu and spend their entire day casting nets and working hard to lure the fish to them. Despite their hard work and effort to catch the fish, Halaʻea would constantly demand that the fishermen give him all of their fish. 

Halaʻea would hold feasts for himself and waste the leftovers without any regrets that the fishermen had no fish to bring home to their families. Finally, the makaʻāinana (common people) of the islands were fed up with letting the chief help himself to their fish. They devised a plan that would free them from the chief’s oppression. 

First, the fishermen followed their usual routine – waking up early, preparing the canoes, gathering the nets and hanging the bait. However, this particular morning was exceptionally lucky for them as it was season of the aku. They spent all day catching large amounts of aku and when the day was over, the chief yelled out to them as usual. “Give me the fish! The fish are mine!” The fishermen followed his orders, proceeding to take out all of the aku from their canoes, put them into Halaʻea’s canoe and then paddled back to shore. Distracted by the beauty of the fish, Halaʻea hadn’t realized that his canoe was beginning to sink! 

The chief was lost beneath the waves and carried out towards the horizon, never to be seen again. To this day, the current now bears the name Halaʻea and the native Hawaiian saying "Kō ke au ia Halaʻea" (The current carried Halaʻea away), is used to describe one who becomes lost forever as a result of their foolish actions.