While the eruptions along the East Rift Zone and volcanic activity at Halemaumau Crater are awe-inspiring, they are also significant to the Hawaiian culture.
Kuulei Kanahele is a researcher with the Edith Kanakaole Foundation who has been studying Pele since the 1990s.
She performed an oli, or chant, Wednesday that talks about catastrophic eruptions, how they lead to new land, and how Pele changes the earth.
“We train for this. We learn our chants. We chant our chants, and being able to present my chant was just life-changing,” she said. “A lot of people say it’s about the destruction. Just remember, it’s actually about creation and birthing new land.”
Kanahele says there are several hulihia chants, or chants about Pele. The one she performed specifically outlines the four laws of Pele as practiced in ancient Hawaiian times.
She says this is the closest she’s been to an eruption.