ʻAlalā are sacred in Hawaiian culture and regarded as ʻaumākua or spiritual family guardians.
The term ʻAlalā is defined as:
- A style of chant used to further project one’s 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).
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.