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In the religion and mythology of the ancient Hawaiians, Papahānaumoku (pronunciation: [pɑːpɑːˈhɑːnaʊmoʊku])[1] — often simply called Papa — is a goddess and the Earth Mother. She is mentioned in the chants as the consort of the sky god Wākea.[2] Their daughter is beautiful goddess Hoʻohokukalani,[3] the main character of one myth. Papa is still worshipped by some Hawaiians, especially by women, as a primordial force of creation who has the power to give life and to heal. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument was renamed in 2007 to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument,[4] in honour of Papa.


In the Hawaiian religion, Papahānaumoku is the mother of the islands and creator of life.

According to the ancient myths, Papa is the wife of Wākea, son of the god Kahiko. Wākea is the Father Sky in the Hawaiian religion[5] and a personification of the male creative power. He and Papa are representations of the divine masculinity and femininity. Together, they created the Hawaiian Islands and became the ancestors of the Hawaiian chiefs[6] and noblemen. The most important offspring of Papa are the islands called Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Oahu and Kauai. Chiefs claimed their descent from Papa and it was believed they were divine as well.

The most famous child of Wākea and Papa is called Hoʻohokukalani,[7] and she became Wākea's lover, according to the famous myth. When Hoʻohokukalani gave birth to a stillborn baby, it was Papa who named the child Haloa and buried him in the soft earth; from that place sprung the first taro. Hoʻohokukalani again mated with her father, and had a living child, who was also named Haloa.


A womenʻs temple, called Hale o Papa, is the primary religious structure associated with the worship of this goddess. Hale o Papa are often built in connection with luakini, or "menʻs temples" (places of "official" ceremony, which are primarily dedicated to the gods and Lono), although it is believed by many practitioners that they may also exist independently.

In the Aloha ʻĀina movement, Papa is often a central figure, as her spirit is that of the life-giving, loving, forgiving Earth who nurtures human life, and who is being abused by the misdeeds of mankind, especially in regard to the abuse of nature.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Learn to pronounce Papahānaumokuākea". 2007-02-27. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  2. ^ Valerio Valeri (1985). Kingship and Sacrifice: Ritual and Society in Ancient Hawaii. University of Chicago Press. On the page 169, the myth of Papa and Wākea is mentioned.
  3. ^ Hoohokukalani (Hoohokukalani I, Hoohokukalani-o-Wakea)
  4. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "UNESCO World Heritage Centre – World Heritage Committee inscribes two new sites on World Heritage List".
  5. ^ Marshall D. Sahlins, Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities : Structure in the Early History of the Sandwich Islands Kingdom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1981.
  6. ^ Hawaiian Mythology (1976). Written by Martha Warren Beckwith. University of Hawaii Press. p. 293.
  7. ^ Peleioholani, Solomon Lehuanui Kalaniomaiheuila (1906), Genealogy of the Robinson family, and ancient legends and chants of Hawaii. Honolulu Bulletin Publishing Company, Ltd., 1908, Hawaii State Archives (Photocopy), CS 2209. R62 P45 1908. Translated into English by J. M. Poepoe.