Hawaiian Culture

ʻAlalā are sacred in Hawaiian culture and regarded as ʻaumākua or family spiritual guardians.

 

Hawaiian forests are family; there is a shared ancestry among the people, plants, animals, and landscapes, including species like the ʻAlalā. By returning the ʻAlalā to the wild, we are welcoming home a family member that has been away for a long time and fulfilling our reciprocal responsibilities as stewards and ancestors of this land.

 

He ‘Alalā, he manu leo nui.

The ʻAlalā, the bird with the big voice.

ʻAlalā is also a term for:

  • A style of chant used to further project ones voice.
  • A messenger in battle who calls out a chief’s commands to his warriors.
  • A cry of a baby.

Their dark color represents unpredictable things. If an ʻAlalā was seen or heard upon entering a place, this was seen as a warning sign to not continue on. ʻAlalā are associated with ʻanāʻanā (Hawaiian dark magic).

Adult wild Alala in the wild at McCandless Ranch

Adult ʻalalā, feeding on ʻŌlapa