O luna, ‘o lalo, ‘o uka, ‘o kai, ‘o ka palaoa pae, no ke ali’i
“Above, below, the upland, the lowland, the whale that washes ashore all belong to the chief.”
Each year from November to May, the Hawaii Islands are visited by humpback whales; or as they are know in Hawaiian, kohola. They travel from the Gulf of Alaska to breed and nurse their young in Hawaii's warm waters.
In Hawaiian culture, whales are the manifestation of the sea god Kanaloa, who helped the ancient Polynesians discover the Hawaiian islands. Whales are the spiritual protector of some Hawaiian families. A whale tooth necklace – niho lei palaoa – was a sacred belonging of the royal chief, or alii. It represented power and strength and possessed the spiritual energy of their gods and ancestors.