Important Hawaiian Beliefs and Values


Religion for the Hawaiian people involved the worship of all the powers of nature. Each major part of their life had its own god. There were four main gods: Kane (god of life, freshm water, provider of sunshine), Lono (god of rain, peace, agriculture, and the forest), Ku (god of war and medicine), and Kanaloa (god of the ocean and ocean winds).

The Hawaiians believed that these gods took many forms. Kane appeared as taro, sugar cane, bamboo, and lightning. Ku appeared as breadfruit or coconut. Lono could be found in rain clouds, sweet potatoes, or gourds.

There are hundreds of lesser gods and goddesses. Some are: Pele (goddess of volcanoes), Lea (goddess of women and canoe builders), and Laka (goddess of the hula).

The aumakua are ancestral guardian spirits or family ancestors who became personal gods of their ohana. They were prayed to for strength, guidance, and inspiration. They appeared as: sharks, lizards, birds, fish, stones, owl, or the eel.

Heiau were temples or places of worship. They consisted of one or more stone-paved platforms or terraces enclosed by stone walls. There were a few bulidings, each with some special use during worship ceremonies.

Today, the people of Hawaii are Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, and belong to many other religious groups. However, you will see people still today making offerings to Pele at the rim of the Halemaumau Crater in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Hawaiian families know what their familyıs amakua is. If the familyıs aumakua is the lizard, no family member will cause harm to a lizard. Heiau are preserved as historical sites. Much respect is shown to the beliefs of the old Hawaiians with the idea of perpetuating the customs and beliefs of the people who lived on this land before us.


In the Hawaiian culture, ohana means family. Members of an ohana could be relatives by blood, non-relations who are accepted by the ohana, as well as members of the ohana who have died. It, also, includes the aumakua, the ancestral guardian spirit of the family.

The ohana is the unit that provides the food, shelter, and education of the children, giving them emotinal support, love, and security. In old Hawaii, the parents performed the daily work including farming and fishing. The children carried food, water, and materials for the building of houses, canoes, and other items. Children were taught by watching and doing. If a child showed a natural talent at something, he was sent to live with an expert in that field. Grandparents were a source of wisdom and understanding. They helped care for the children and developed close ties with them. The spiritual guardians provided a sense of well-being for the family.

Today, ohana still means family, including family members and friends and people still believe in their amakua. The meaning of ohana is used more generally now to refer to any group of people with a common bond.

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