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Excerpt from an interview with: Mary Kawena Pukui, Muriel Hanchett, and Helene Fagan. 1960. Bishop Museum Audio Collection, Bishop Museum Archives, HAW 87.2.2. ✨✨✨ M.K.P.: “I cannot work with a person who just declares, “oh, that’s superstitious”. I want to know if it’s so or not, and sometimes a thing regarded as superstitious is based on fact. I don’t like that word at all. And whether a Hawaiian tells this version or the next version, I never contradict or say it isn’t so, because sometimes you can take this one’s version and the other one’s version and put them together then you get a clearer light of what they mean. Even the stories of the gods, they say our stories of the gods are pupule (crazy), no they are not. They’re telling their story, it is up to us to think.
We have a poem that perhaps sounds a little odd, it’s about Haumea. Haumea went away and became rejuvenated and came back and took her son for her husband. Then she went away rejuvenated, came back and took her grandson for a husband. She went away and came back and took her great-grandson for her husband. And if we think of Haumea as a woman, then it sounds very, very peculiar, but when we think of what Haumea symbolizes, she symbolizes the earth, she is Mother Earth. And we know a tree grows, and maybe a seed dropped to the ground, the fruit drops into the ground, the seed again returns to the womb of Mother Earth. It grows and it grows on, Mother Earth is never old. So, if we see it that way, then that poem makes plenty of sense and that is exactly what it was meant to be.
And Hiʻiaka, who is the healer, her symbol was the fern. And that was her skirt, it was the fern. She was the healer of the family. We know that when Pele, in her rage, scars the earth, the first green thing that begins to heal the scars, are the ferns. So there is sense. The (Hawaiians) observe nature, they study nature and they make sense of it. So when we go, we don’t contradict anybody, we use our ears.”