The northern region of Hawaiʻi Island – long associated with mana and spiritual legacy is surrounded by five majestic volcanoes – Maunakea, Maunaloa, Hualālai, Kohala, and Haleakalā – which Native Hawaiians incarnated with myths that linked them to the cosmos.
Maunakea – white mountain, is associated with mind and clarity of thought.
Maunaloa – long mountain, represents the feminine aspects of nature. Its perfect symmetry is a metaphor for the perfection of the created world.
Hualālai – named for a beautiful high-chieftess who was concealed there, is associated with the body, youth and physical strength. Known as the Nursing Mother of Kona. Its slopes cool passing trade winds which bring rain to the Kona Coast.
Kohala – place of destiny, birthplace of the great King Kamehameha and his ʻohana, represents community and healing oure relationships with each other.
Haleakalā – house of the sun, represents order, regularity and spirtuality, and is geophysically linked to Kohala by a common submarine lava parentage.
These majestic mountains embrace North Hawaiʻi like a lei. Many years ago, Helen Desha Beamer (1882-1952), inspired by what she saw and felt on an early morning road trip from Hilo to Pānīʻau, put pen to paper and composed Nā Kuahiwi ʻElima or The Five Mountains.
The journey was described in a letter written by Annabelle Ruddle . . .
“We were on our way to Pānīʻau and … had left Hilo very early in the morning to be at Kawaihae between 6:30 and 7:00 … We got out to Āhualoa and along the plains … about at day break and it was so clear and beautiful – Maunakea & Maunaloa – we could look into part of Waipiʻo and Waimanu with the waterfalls so clear – then Hualālai … Helen picked up her ʻukulele and was strumming … (and singing) … words and music together, each mountain as it came to her, and the valleys, and then when we got into Waimea – the Kohala mountains … On the way to Kawaihae – Haleakalā. Before we reached Kawaihae, she had it completed – melody and words.”