Kawaimaka Explains the Wonders of the Kukui Nut

August 24, 2016, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated August 23, 10:38 PM
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Malika Dudley recently visited Molokai to explore the Friendly Isle. Along the way, she met Greg Kawaimaka Solatorio and his father Anakala Pilipio Solatorio. Their family has lived in Halawa Valley for 50 generations. In today’s video, Kawaimaka talks about the kukui nut and it’s many uses for native Hawaiians.

Here is the definition of kukui from the Hawaiian dictionary:

  1. 1. Candlenut tree (Aleurites moluccana), a large tree in the spurge family bearing nuts containing while, oily kernels which were formerly used for lights; hence the tree is a symbol of enlightenment. The nuts are still cooked for a relish (ʻinamona). The soft wood was used for canoes, and gum from the bark for painting tapa; black dye was obtained from nut coats and from roots, (Nuts were chewed and spat into the sea by men fishing with nets for parrot fish (kākā uhu) in order to calm the sea (FS 38–9): see ex., pili 1). Polished nuts are strung in leis; the silvery leaves and small white flowers are strung in leis as representative of Molokaʻi, as designated in 1923 by the Territorial legislature. The kukui was named the official emblem for the State of Hawaii in 1959 because of its many uses and its symbolic value. Kukui is one of the plant forms of Kama-puaʻa that comes to help him (FS 215). Called kuikui on Niʻihau. (Neal 504–7.) See lei kukui. He aliʻi no ka malu kukui, a chief of the candlenut shade [chief of uncertain genealogy].

2. Lamp, light, torch. Fig., guide, leader. Kukui ahi (Dan. 10.6), lamps of fire. E noho ana au ā puhi kukui, I’ll stay until the lights are lighted [until dark). Kukui ʻā i ke awakea, torch burning in daylight [a symbol for descendants of a certain chief]. Ua pio ke kukui, the light is out [dead].

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