Ancient, Living Hawaiian Faith and Practice


About Kanenuiakea

Statement of Purpose

We are an earth religion, believing that all life is sacred, and naturalistic in our celebrations of the immanence of the sacred in all of life, especially seeing God in nature. Almost every Hawaiian word, place name, sign or symbol points us to and reminds us of the sacred. All manifestations of great power (
mana), love (aloha) and righteousness (pono) are honored and reverenced. These manifestations can be thought of as the elements of the divine in its manifoldness. We call these sacred elements akua, God, for everything is from Kane and within Kane. Scholars would call this Panentheism (see the later writing of Paul Tillich). However, I‘o is the divine mystery that is absolutely transcendent—absolute, formless, beyond human description, the "god beyond god." The term is so sacred is our tradition that it is seldom used, yet it arises from the spiritual experience of our mystics from the depths of silence. Scholars would call this Mysticism.

We acknowledge others’ worship, and because we are inclusive of all truths, we see no reason for one to have only one faith or religion. We are universalists in our faith and practice. In fact, there were other supreme deities in the religious traditions of ancient Hawaii – Kane, Kanaloa, Ku, Lono, each with worshippers who saw one manifestation or its symbol as supreme.

We are also an oral tradition, without a sacred book of divine origin authored by or quoted from a God in a human language. Our prayers and chants are of human origin, memorized and passed down for centuries, coming with us on our long, open-ocean journeys. In fact, that may be where our religion developed in our double-hulled canoes. Kanenuiakea further evolved in the
aloha of long voyages on the open ocean where the practicality of sharing, cooperating, respecting, conserving the resources, and “managing the rolling beauty of time” (ka‘ananiau) all came together in our faith and practice. These values helped us turn this island canoe into a garden paradise, our ‘āina (land). Our ‘āina was self-sustaining before Western contact as we preserved and shared our natural resources.

Code of Practice

Ua kapu ke ola na Kane. All life is sacred to Kane. Kanenuiakea never involved blood sacrifice, which came with Ku worship from Kahiki in the 12th century. All life is sacred; we are a religion of peace and peacemakers.

The following
values summarize the principles of Kanenuiakea: aloha, ‘ohana, ‘āina, mālama, pono, kuleana, kōkua, mo‘olelo, lōkahi, mahalo, ho‘ola, and ho‘okupu. These values translate superficially as love, family, land, care/relationship, righteous/balance/harmony, responsibility/privilege, mutual assistance, stories/beliefs/traditions, peace/harmony, gratitude/blessing/prayer, healing/giving life, and respect/giving/growth.


As previously stated, persecution drove Hawaiian indigenous religion underground, including Kanenuiakea. The genuine tradition has been oral and
huna, and it is still a living oral tradition passed from generation to generation. There are numerous oli (chants) to Kane, according to Kumu (teacher) Glen Kila, of which he has been given only a portion to use and preserve. Other kahuna (priests) have responsibility to preserve their portion of the tradition. We are now hoping to archive and share our deeper culture and religious practice with the world.

Some of the oral tradition has been written down by others, usually those who have not been initiated to practice and preserve the chants in the traditional way. (Kanenuiakea is not to be confused with religious and commercial misappropriations of Hawaiian indigenous religion.)

That being said, values, principles and practices of Kanenuiakea can be seen in these books:
He Kumulipo [The Kumulipo translated by Queen Liliuokalani, 1897].
Ka Wai a Kane [The Water of Kane, unwritten Literature of Hawaii, by Nathaniel B. Emerson, 1909]
Mo'olelo o na Po Makole [Tales of the Night Rainbow]. A family story of Kane people on Moloka‘i.
Malcolm Nâea Chun,
No Nâ Mamo: Traditional and Contemporary Hawaiian Beliefs and Practices (Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2011).
John Charlot,
Classical Hawaiian Education: Generations of Hawaiian Culture (The Pacific Institute, 2005)
John Charlot,
A Kumulipo of Hawaii‘i (Academia Verlag, 2014)


Koa Ike (www.koaike.org)
Marae Ha‘a Koa (www.maraehaakoa.org)
The International Association of Religious Freedom. IARF membership: (https://iarf.net/members/north-america-2/)
First Unitarian Church of Honolulu (http://www.unitariansofhi.org). Partnership: (http://www.unitariansofhi.org/photos-kanenuiakea)