Ways to the Heart: Food and Foodways in Hawai'i

The Story of the First Kalo Plant


Haloa, the First Hawaiian

Wakea, skyfather and the father of these islands of Hawai’i, is the man. Ho’ohokuokalani is the woman. Ho’ohokuokalani was with child, her first baby. But the child was not to live, born premature, a male child. 

Ho’ohokuokalani was instructed to bury the child at the eastern edge of their hale (house) where the sun rises in the morning. Every day Ho’ohokuokalani cried over the grave, watering the site with her tears. One day there appeared a shoot that became the first kalo (taro) plant. The parents called this kalo baby Haloanakalaukapalili. This name was given because it has a fluttering heart-shaped leaf on top of a long stalk that gently trembled this way and that, which is what a kalo plant does when the wind blows.

Soon after Ho’ohokuokalani was with child again. This time she gave birth to a male child, a healthy baby boy. The parents called this boy Haloa for his older brother, the kalo, buried on the eastern side of the house. Haloa was a very important child for he was the first Hawaiian. All Hawaiians are his grandchildren. Haloa is our grandfather ancestor.

Haloanakalaukapalili, the kalo, is the older sibling to the human race. It is said that if you take care of your older siblings and your mother, they will nurture and take care of you. This is the relationship that the Hawaiians have to kalo.