Hawaiʻi palu lāʻī. #503
Ti-leaf lickers of Hawaiʻi.
[This saying originated after Kamehameha conquered the island of Oʻahu. The people of Kailua, Oʻahu, gave a great feast for him, not expecting him to bring such a crowd of people. The first to arrive ate up the meat, so the second group had to be content with licking and nibbling at the bits of meat that adhered to the ti leaves. In derision, the people of Oʻahu called them “ti-leaf lickers.”]
Kini Kailua, mano Kāneʻohe. #1801
Forty thousand in Kailua, four thousand in Kāneʻohe.
[A great number. Said by a woman named Kawaihoʻolana whose grandson was ruthlessly murdered by someone from either Kailua or Kāneʻohe. She declared that this many would perish by sorcery to avenge him. Another version credits Keohokauouli, a kahuna in the time of Kamehameha, for this saying. He suggested sorcery as a means of destroying the conqueror’s Oʻahu enemies.]
Mālama o ʻike i ke kaula ʻili hau o Kailua. #2118
Take care lest you feel the haubark rope of Kailua.
[Take care lest you get hurt. When braided into a rounded rope, hau bark is strong, and when used as a switch it can be painful.]
Ua piʻi paha i ka ʻulu o Maunawili. #2848
Gone up, perhaps, to fetch the breadfruit of Maunawili.
[A play on wili (twist, turn about).
Said of one who is confused.]
He lepo ka ʻai a Oʻahu, a māʻona no i ka lepo. #758
Earth is the food of Oʻahu, and it is satisfied with its earth.
[Said in derision of Oʻahu, which was said to be an earth-eating land. In olden times, an edible mud like gelatine was said to fill Kawainui Pond. The mud, which was brought hither from Kahiki in ancient days, was once served to the warriors and servants of Kamehameha as a replacement for poi.]
He ʻoʻopu kuʻia, ka iʻa hilahila o Kawainui. 866
A bashful ʻoʻopu, the shy fish of Kawainui.
[Said of a bashful person. Kawainui at Kailua was one of the largest fishponds on Oʻahu.]
Wawā ka menehune i Puʻukapele ma Kauaʻi, puoho ka manu o ka loko o Kawainui ma Oʻahu. #2920
The shouts of the menehune on Puʻukapele on Kauaʻi startled the birds of Kawainui Pond on Oʻahu.
[The menehune were once so numerous on Kauaʻi that their shouting could be heard on Oʻahu. Said of too much boisterous talking.]
Source: Pukui, M. K. (1983). ‘Ōlelo No‘eau Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press.
ʻŌlelo Noeau compiled by Johanna Kapōmaikaʻi Stone and Danielle Espiritu