For centuries the belief system in Hawaii was enforced by priests (kahunas) and the notion of chief and priest privilege called "kapu," which simply meant "do this or die," ruled secular and religious life in Hawaii. But in 1819 Prince Lilolilo, who had just been crowed Kamehameha II, broke the kapu by dining in public with his mother and other women of the royal court.
All kapu were abolished, but they also destroyed Hawaii's temples (heiau), relics and artifacts because kapu had been so inextricably intertwined with the Islands temples, priests and beliefs. The burning of the temples was urged by the high priest to Hawaii's royal family.
However Hawaii's rich cultural heritage is still alive in the Islands, binding oral tradition, archeological science, history and the ecology of the Islands, and there are many historic sites around the Islands that can help visitors and natives better understand the history and the legacy of the ancient Hawaiians.
And though all this talk of ancient gods may seem like ancient history, visitors to the volcanoes continually hear about tourists mailing back volcanic rocks and artifacts, originally taken as souvenirs from Kilauea, in order to appease Pele and end their streak of bad luck. Despite everything, the gods live on within their people.
Here's a list to help introduce you to Hawaii's ancient deities, along with a set of Web site links covering Hawaii's rich culture.
Kāne – the creator
Kū – the architect and maker of war
Lono – God of peace and prosperity, wind and rain
Kanaloa – God of the ocean.
Pele - Goddess of the Volcano
Pele had five brothers and eight sisters who did her bidding, among them:
Kamooalii – King Moho, the God of steam
Keuakepo – God of rain of fire
Hiiakawawahilani – the cloud holder
Keoahikamakaua – the child of war.
Gods in the Realm of Death (Po)
Akea – first Hawaiian king who founded a kingdom in the afterlife
Milu – suceeded Akea
Manua – supreme soverign of Po, the spirits of chiefs and priests live within him