‘Water of Life of Kāne’ (Lāna‘i Cultural & Heritage Center)
Wai (fresh water) is the most important resource for life. As such, wai must be considered a top priority in every aspect of land use and planning.
The kānaka maoli word for water is wai and the Hawaiian word for wealth is waiwai, indicating that water is the source of well-being and wealth.
The importance of the forest is that it plays a significant role in the water cycle, gathering moisture that is stored in the earth that ultimately finds its way to shore or the ocean, evaporated back into the sky to return as rain once again.
As such, the relationship between the wai and the forest is an infinite cycle.
“Fresh water as a life-giver was not to the Hawaiians merely a physical element; it had a spiritual connotation.”
“In prayers of thanks and invocations used in offering fruits of the land, and in prayers chanted when planting, and in prayers for rain, the ‘Water of Life of Kāne’ is referred to over and over again.”
“Kāne – the word means ‘male’ and ‘husband’ – was the embodiment of male procreative energy in fresh water, flowing on or under the earth in springs, in streams and rivers, and falling as rain (and also as sunshine,) which gives life to plants.”
“There are many prayers (referring to) ‘the Water of Life of Kāne” … We also hear occasionally of the “Water of Life” of Kanaloa, of Lono, and of Kū, and even of Hiʻiaka, sister of Pele, a healer”
“Lono was the god of rain and storms, and as such the “father of waters” (Lono-wai-makua).”
“The old priests were inclined to include in their prayers for rain and for fertility the names of the four major deities, Kāne, Kū, Lono, and Kanaloa, whose roles, while on the whole distinct, overlapped in many areas of ritualistic and mythological conceptions.”
The religion of the folk-planters and fishers – was sectarian to some extent; some worshiped Kāne, some Kū, some Lono, and some Kanaloa. Regardless of all such distinctions, life-giving waters were sacred. (Handy, Handy & Pukui)