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Origins of Hula
Hula Sites
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Hula Sites

Certain geographic areas in the Islands continue to be closely tied to hula and its history and traditions. Two sites arise from the Pele and Hi`iaka legends, Ha`ena and Puna. The greatest hula shrine in Hawai`i is at Ha`ena on Kaua`i. There one can still see the terraced platforms of a large heiau; it's believed a halau once stood on the upper terrace. It is also here that Hi`iaka found the body of Pele's lover Lohi`au, killed by Pele in a fit of rage. On Pele's orders, Hi`iaka searched for Lohi`au and brought him back to life at Ha`ena. Ha`ena was also traditionally the home of the highest kapu chiefs and very rich agriculturally.

Hi`iaka and her friend Hopoe are also associated with Puna on the island of Hawai`i. It was here that Hopoe first shared the hula with Hi`iaka and to show her admiration for the gift, Hi`iaka planted an `ohi`a forest for Hopoe (in alternate versions of the story, Pele bequeathed the forest to Hi`iaka). It was this grove of `ohi`a that Pele later destroyed when she suspected that Hi`iaka had failed in her task to return Lohi`au to Pele. In a fit of rage, Pele burned the forest with lava and killed Hopoe too as she danced.

Another site sacred to hula lies at the western end of Moloka`i at Mauna Loa. Founded by Pele's elder sister Kapo, the first hula school is said to have originated here. Mo`ohelaia, a spirit dwelling at Mauna Loa, became the patron of hula in this tradition.

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