Moʻo is a piece created with intention to set and share a foundation of the kānaka — native Hawaiian — culture and perspective found in everything we do.
The Hawaiian word “moʻo” has several meanings in the Hawaiian language. One of the several English translations of the word literally means “lizard.” Some translations that follow include: succession, series, especially of a genealogical line, and lineage.
The series of events, both good and bad, that make up our lives are not merely points in time, but the totality of people, places, and ideas stem and reoccur because each holds a genealogy. Through a western perspective, genealogies are often only seen as a family tree and members that comprise it. Yet, through the kuanaʻike, or perspective, of kānaka, genealogies hold the moʻolelo, or stories, of those who we are all connected to.
The image you see as the backbone of the moʻo is a strand of an ʻupena, fishing net. In order to make an ʻupena, one strand of chord is often used to make the entire thing. Thus, each knot and eye are a part of the same series of actions worked through by the creator.
When understanding our individual roles within this ‘upena of our lāhui — Hawaiian nation in this context — we often look to origins and, specifically, our creation stories like the Kumulipo. The ancestral call, Mai Ka Pō Mai, stems from the Kumulipo that in one translation means from darkness arrives.
Here, Pō, darkness, is seen not as something intimidating or overwhelming, but as the life source of this genealogy that never fades. As kānaka, our ʻiwikuamoʻo, or backbone, is held together by these genealogies interlaced within each of our own ʻupena as a collective. With the constant interlacing and flow of the kaula, or cordage, that make up the ʻiwikuamoʻo of the moʻo seen, the actions that the moʻo choose to take part in adds to the genealogy of the moʻopuna, or grandchildren, that it may one day have.
This is a call to ourselves as kānaka and to those who are continuing to learn about Hawaiʻi through a decolonized perspective that this journey you are on is no coincidence but merely what our kūpuna or ancestors had in store for us. Our time with them and each other never ends through this succession of time — in acknowledgment that our time is not viewed by kānaka as linear — but rather a constant flow with the forces around and within us.
Last updated 9/6/20