Rev. Charles McEwen Hyde wrote a piece in Hawaiian Folk Tales (Thrum) on Legends Resembling Old Testament History; all here is from that.
In the first volume of Judge Fornander’s elaborate work on “The Polynesian Race” he has given some old Hawaiian legends which closely resemble the Old Testament history. Take, for instance, the Hawaiian account of the Creation.
The Kane, Ku, and Lono: or, Sunlight, Substance, and Sound, – these constituted a triad named Ku-Kaua-Kahi, or the Fundamental Supreme Unity. In worship the reverence due was expressed by such epithets as Hi-ka-po-loa, Oi-e, Most Excellent, etc.
These gods existed from eternity, from and before chaos, or, as the Hawaiian term expressed it, ‘mai ka po mai’ (from the time of night, darkness, chaos).
By an act of their will these gods dissipated or broke into pieces the existing, surrounding, all-containing po, night, or chaos. By this act light entered into space.
They then created the heavens, three in number, as a place to dwell in; and the earth to be their footstool, he keehina honua a Kane. Next they created the sun, moon, stars, and a host of angels, or spirits – i kini akua – to minister to them.
Last of all they created man as the model, or in the likeness of Kane. The body of the first man was made of red earth – lepo ula, or alaea – and the spittle of the gods – wai nao.
His head was made of a whitish clay – palolo – which was brought from the four ends of the world by Lono.
When the earth-image of Kane was ready, the three gods breathed into its nose, and called on it to rise, and it became a living being.
Afterwards the first woman was created from one of the ribs – lalo puhaka – of the man while asleep, and these two were the progenitors of all mankind.
They are called in the chants and in various legends by a large number of different names; but the most common for the man was Kumuhonua, and for the woman Keolakuhonua [or Lalahonua].
Spirits – The Inferno
According to those legends of Kumuhonua and Wela-ahi-lani, “at the time when the gods created the stars, they also created a multitude of angels, or spirits (i kini akua), who were not created like men, but made from the spittle of the gods (i kuhaia), to be their servants or messengers.”
“These spirits, or a number of them, disobeyed and revolted, because they were denied the awa; which means that they were not permitted to be worshipped, awa being a sacrificial offering and sign of worship.”
“These evil spirits did not prevail, however, but were conquered by Kane, and thrust down into uttermost darkness (ilalo loa i ka po).”
“The chief of these spirits was called by some Kanaloa, by others Milu, the ruler of Po; Akua ino; Kupu ino, the evil spirit. Other legends, however, state that the veritable and primordial lord of the Hawaiian inferno was called Manua.”
“The inferno itself bore a number of names, such as Po-pau-ole, Po-kua-kini, Po-kini-kini, Po-papa-ia-owa, Po-ia-milu. Milu, according to those other legends, was a chief of superior wickedness on earth who was thrust down into Po, but who was really both inferior and posterior to Manua.”
“This inferno, this Po, with many names, one of which remarkably enough was Ke-po-lua-ahi, the pit of fire, was not an entirely dark place. There was light of some kind and there was fire.”
The legends further tell us that when Kane, Ku, and Lono were creating the first man from the earth, Kanaloa was present, and in imitation of Kane, attempted to make another man out of the earth. When his clay model was ready, he called to it to become alive, but no life came to it.
Then Kanaloa became very angry, and said to Kane, ‘I will take your man, and he shall die,’ and so it happened. Hence the first man got his other name Kumu-uli, which means a fallen chief, he ’lii kahuli. . . .
The introduction and worship of Kanaloa, as one of the great gods in the Hawaiian group, can be traced back only to the time of the immigration from the southern groups.
In the more ancient chants he is never mentioned in conjunction with Kane, Ku, and Lono, and even in later Hawaiian mythology he never took precedence of Kane. The Hawaiian legend states that the oldest son of Kumuhonua, the first man, was called Laka, and that the next was called Ahu, and that Laka was a bad man; he killed his brother Ahu.
There are these different Hawaiian genealogies, going back with more or less agreement among themselves to the first created man. The genealogy of Kumuhonua gives thirteen generations inclusive to Nuu, or Kahinalii, or the line of Laka, the oldest son of Kumuhonua. (The line of Seth from Adam to Noah counts ten generations.)
The second genealogy, called that of Kumu-uli, was of greatest authority among the highest chiefs down to the latest times, and it was taboo to teach it to the common people. This genealogy counts fourteen generations from Huli-houna, the first man, to Nuu, or Nana-nuu, but inclusive, on the line of Laka.
The third genealogy, which, properly speaking, is that of Paao, the high priest who came with Pili from Tahiti, about twenty-five generations ago, and was a reformer of the Hawaiian priesthood, and among whose descendants it has been preserved, counts only twelve generations from Kumuhonua to Nuu, on the line of Kapili, youngest son of Kumuhonua.
Of the primeval home, the original ancestral seat of mankind, Hawaiian traditions speak in highest praise. “It had a number of names of various meanings, though the most generally occurring, and said to be the oldest, was Kalana-i-hau-ola (Kalana with the life-giving dew).”
It was situated in a large country, or continent, variously called in the legends Kahiki-honua-kele, Kahiki-ku, Kapa-kapa-ua-a-Kane, Molo-lani. Among other names for the primary homestead, or paradise, are Pali-uli (the blue mountain), Aina-i-ka-kaupo-o-Kane (the land in the heart of Kane), Aina-wai-akua-a-Kane (the land of the divine water of Kane).
The tradition says of Pali-uli, that it was a sacred, tabooed land; that a man must be righteous to attain it; if faulty or sinful he will not get there; if he looks behind he will not get there; if he prefers his family he will not enter Pali-uli.
Among other adornments of the Polynesian Paradise, the Kalana-i-hau-ola, there grew the Ulu kapu a Kane, the breadfruit tabooed for Kane, and the ohia hemolele, the sacred apple-tree.
The priests of the olden time are said to have held that the tabooed fruits of these trees were in some manner connected with the trouble and death of Kumuhonua and Lalahonua, the first man and the first woman.
Hence in the ancient chants he is called Kane-laa-uli, Kumu-uli, Kulu-ipo, the fallen chief, he who fell on account of the tree, or names of similar import.
In the Hawaiian group there are several legends of the Flood. One legend relates that in the time of Nuu, or Nana-nuu (also pronounced lana, that is, floating), the flood, Kaiakahinalii, came upon the earth, and destroyed all living beings …
… that Nuu, by command of his god, built a large vessel with a house on top of it, which was called and is referred to in chants as ‘He waa halau o ka Moku,’ the royal vessel, in which he and his family, consisting of his wife, Lilinoe, his three sons and their wives, were saved.
When the flood subsided, Kane, Ku, and Lono entered the waa halau of Nuu, and told him to go out. He did so, and found himself on the top of Mauna Kea (the highest mountain on the island of Hawaii).
He called a cave there after the name of his wife, and the cave remains there to this day – as the legend says in testimony of the fact.
Other versions of the legend say that Nuu landed and dwelt in Kahiki-honua-kele, a large and extensive country.” . . . “Nuu left the vessel in the evening of the day and took with him a pig, cocoanuts, and awa as an offering to the god Kane.
As he looked up he saw the moon in the sky. He thought it was the god, saying to himself, ‘You are Kane, no doubt, though you have transformed yourself to my sight.’ So he worshipped the moon, and offered his offerings.
Then Kane descended on the rainbow and spoke reprovingly to Nuu, but on account of the mistake Nuu escaped punishment, having asked pardon of Kane. . . . Nuu’s three sons were Nalu-akea, Nalu-hoo-hua, and Nalu-mana-mana.
He left his native home and moved a long way off until he reached a land called Honua-ilalo, ‘the southern country.’ Hence he got the name Lalo-kona, and his wife was called Honua-po-ilalo.
Then Lua-nuu and his son, Kupulu-pulu-a-Nuu, and his servant, Pili-lua-nuu, started off in their boat to the eastward. In remembrance of this event the Hawaiians called the back of Kualoa Koo-lau; Oahu (after one of Lua-nuu’s names), Kane-hoa-lani; and the smaller hills in front of it were named Kupu-pulu and Pili-lua-nuu.
Lua-nuu is the tenth descendant from Nuu by both the oldest and the youngest of Nuu’s sons. This oldest son is represented to have been the progenitor of the Kanaka-maoli, the people living on the mainland of Kane (Aina kumupuaa a Kane): the youngest was the progenitor of the white people (ka poe keokeo maoli).
This Lua-nuu (like Abraham, the tenth from Noah, also like Abraham), through his grandson, Kini-lau-a-mano, became the ancestor of the twelve children of the latter, and the original founder of the Menehune people, from whom this legend makes the Polynesian family descend.
Hypotheses on Plausibility
“Two hypotheses,” says Fornander, “may with some plausibility be suggested to account for this remarkable resemblance of folk-lore.”
“One is, that during the time of the Spanish galleon trade, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, between the Spanish Main and Manila, some shipwrecked people, Spaniards and Portuguese, had obtained sufficient influence to introduce these scraps of Bible history into the legendary lore of this people.”
“The other hypothesis is, that at some remote period either a body of the scattered Israelites had arrived at these islands direct, or in Malaysia, before the exodus of ‘the Polynesian family,’ and thus imparted a knowledge of their doctrines, of the early life of their ancestors, and of some of their peculiar customs …”
“… and that having been absorbed by the people among whom they found a refuge, this is all that remains to attest their presence – intellectual tombstones over a lost and forgotten race, yet sufficient after twenty-six centuries of silence to solve in some measure the ethnic puzzle of the lost tribes of Israel.”