Today we look at freshwater fishponds and the goddess who cared for them, Haumea—the earth mother, born on O‘ahu, says UH Mānoa Professor Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa.
“She leads the mo‘owāhine, or the lizard women, in their production of fish in freshwater fishponds. Now O‘ahu had more fishponds than all the other islands put together, with 113 freshwater ponds or 4,200 acres producing 1.3 million pounds of fish per year just from the land, not even the ocean. And the mo‘owāhine are worshipped in the Hale o Papa, or the female temple. Only women go there, only women learn the knowledge to care for the ponds at the temple. And the female temples that we have in Hawai‘i are found only in Hawai‘i.”
The management of fresh water, says Kame‘eleihiwa, seems to be connected to female knowledge and the mo‘owāhine were very clearly connected to the freshwater fishponds.
“They say when the mo‘owāhine’s not there, the fish don’t come. Mo‘owāhine represent freshwater springs and they’re always connected with water.”
In Hawai‘i, where there was an abundance of fresh water, women would go to the Hale o Papa to worship the mo‘owāhine and to learn to care for the fishponds.
“And of course women share that knowledge with their sons and their brothers and other members of the family but it’s very clear from talking to mo‘o clans the female is the most important.”