Rain names are a precious legacy from our kupuna who were keen observers of the world around them and who had a nuanced understanding of the forces of nature. They knew that one place could have several types of rain, each distinct from the other. They knew when a particular rain would fall, its color, its duration, its intensity, its path, its sound, its scent, and its effect on the land and their lives.
Hānau ka Ua is the fullest record of Hawaiian rain names and their lore to date, drawing on oral tradition and literature, including approximately three hundred ‘olelo Hawai‘i primary sources from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries containing chants, songs, laments, and narratives. The existence of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of rain and wind names is evidence of the value our kupuna attached to these forces. This compilation will help toward maintaining the connection our kupuna had with the Hawaiian universe and toward knowing the rains as our kupuna knew them, enriching all aspects of our lives.
Collette Leimomi Akana has been teaching social studies at Kamehameha Middle School since 1983. She has taught Hawaiian language at Windward Community College and Kapi‘olani Community College.