QUESTION: Why are Hawaiians always referring to Papa and Wakea as their "ancestors and the "creators" - like the primary beings, the "first gods" - when there is a whole list of ancestors of THESE two out there? And sometimes Hawaiians name completely different beings as ancestors and/or creators. Which source is correct?
ANSWER: One of the most important things to remember about Hawaiians is that they are not now and never have been a homogenous people, in spite of being of Polynesian origin. Hawaii was populated by different family groups at different times from different places,
bringing with them different religions, and different creation stories.
There are creation stories associated with Kane, Ku, Lono, Kanaloa, Wakea and Papa, Haloa, Haumea (as mother of Pele), the Kumulipo, and others. It is in the nature of the Western mind to put creation into a sequential framework based on a linear model of time. It is in the nature of the Hawaiian mind to put creation into a contextual framework based on a non-linear model of time.
So, a Western mind tends to ask, "Which creation story is the right one?" and a Hawaiian mind tends to ask, "Which creation story is the most appropriate for my present purpose?" The Western mind seems to be very uncomfortable with paradox, while the Hawaiian mind
not only tolerates it, but seems to thrive on it.