Liquid of Life
Throughout time immemorial, human beings have associated rain with life, growth and renewal. It nourishes our natural environment, waters our crops, and provides fresh drinking water for our communities. Rain is the cornerstone of life.
In Hawai‘i, home to Mount Wai‘ale‘ale on the island of Kaua‘i, one of the rainiest places on Earth, rain is a natural part of daily life. Across the Aloha State, fleeting morning showers give way to effervescent rainbows and sunny days, followed by more afternoon sprinkles along the mountains and windward coasts. With an umbrella or a giant ti leaf in hand, rain is not a hindrance but celebrated as a way of life in Hawai’i.
Rain was also part of the fabric of life for Native Hawaiians hundreds of years ago, just as it is today. In fact, rain was so integral to the survival of native Hawaiians that they identified over 200 types of rain through songs, chants, and stories.
“Our kūpuna were so observant of their environment and just highly attuned with their surroundings,” says Kiele Gonzalez, co-author and co-researcher of Hānau Ka Ua: Hawaiian Rain Names, from a 2016 interview with Hawai‘i Magazine. The book documents more than 200 Hawaiian language words, terms, and phrases for rain. “They were able to recognize and identify these subtle difference between rains, the patterns they’d fall in, the way they blew, what time they’d come, their duration, their scent—all of that was part of what would go into their names—and it’s all reaffirmed in modern climatology.”
Just as today we notice the difference between a light mist, a steady drizzle, or a torrential downpour, Hawaiian rain names are very specific and include plants, animals, or places. Alanilehua describes a heavenly, seemingly orange rain that occurs in Puna, but originates in Hilo. Kanilehua rain alludes to the chattering of the birds and the rain that the lehua flower drinks. Ka ua Kea o Hāna is a traditional saying that refers to the white, misty rain of Hāna that comes in from the sea.
Hānau Ka Ua author Collette Leimomi Akana hopes that by discovering Hawai‘i’s rain names, people will form a deeper connection to the ‘āina, the land, enriching all aspects of our lives in the Islands. Inspired by the tropical rain that falls on the islands, we handcrafted our waterproof boots and shoes with premium leathers, full waterproof construction, and rugged outsoles to keep you moving through your outdoor environment, no matter what the weather holds.