‘O ke Kahua Mamua, Mahope ke Kukulu, a Pau ka Hale
The Foundation First, then the Building Until the House is Completed
Ho`omaika’i I Ka Hale
The hale (house) represents one of the most important means of ensuring the safety, wellbeing and very survival of the `ohana. It provides a place of shelter, protection, security and sanctuary. It serves as the central gathering place for family, relatives and friends to affirm their bonds of kinship, share aloha (love) and celebrate their spirituality.
In modern Hawai`i as it was in old Hawaii it is customary to consecrate the foundation of one’s future hale (home) with a religious ceremony before its construction. In ancient times, before building the hale, the po`o (head of the household) would consult a kahuna kuhikuhi pu`uone, (literally: one who points out the sand dunes) a seer who was an expert in selecting proper building sites. He studied the land, knew about topography, geographic and weather conditions in order to select a good site to build. Similar to the Chinese practice of Feng Shui geomancy, the kahuna also followed the laws of nature, heaven, earth and the elements to advise the owner about how the home should be situated and in what direction it should face. Such things as planting trees or positioning other buildings directly in the line of the front doorway of the home were considered `alai (obstructions) preventing blessings from entering the home. The `ohana (family) in a home that was not built properly in accordance with the guidance of the kahuna, would be subject to sickness, misfortune and other negative energy and experiences.
The early Hawaiians believed that it is the `ohana that brings life into a home. Therefore, once the construction of a hale is completed, a ceremonial blessing is customarily performed with the owner(s) and their immediate family present. As part of the consecration rites, members of the household are invited to impart their gift of mana (supernatural energy) and take spiritual as well as physical possession of the residence. Once the dedication is completed, a ceremonial Hawaiian feast is held to give thanks to Ke Akua (the Higher Power) and to welcome invited guests who have come to honor the occasion.