What O‘ahu Sounds Like at Sunset
As night begins to fall over Ko Olina, Hawaii, Thomas Anuhealii sings the sun to sleep with this traditional chant.
In ancient Hawaii there was no written communication, only the spoken word. Words were a source of power, wisdom and protection. Chanting became an extension of speaking and, when combined with prayer, was used to bless and to protect the people and the land.
Thomas Anuhealii, Cultural Ambassador to Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina and a native of nearby Nānākuli, performs the Ke aui nei ka lā chant near the rocky cove of Ko Olina Beach almost every day at sunset. And if guests listen closely enough, they may hear his gentle song to the sun and find peace themselves.
“We put the sun to sleep to bring to a close the day’s worth of manna, life force,” Anuhealii explains, “and acknowledge that we, too, must go to sleep, that we shall see each other again the next day.”
The traditional Hawaiian chant has significance in any venue where the sun sets over the ocean. But Anuhealii says it has particular resonance in Ko Olina because two life forces integral to Hawaiian life combine here: the mountains and the sea.
“The life force of water flows down from nearby Pālehua Mountain into the upper land, where it waters the native taro. From them it flows into the sea where it gives life to the fish.”
And so as the sun sinks to the horizon, Anuhealii begins to chant (translated here from Hawaiian into English):
The sun is descending
Dusk is approaching
The descending at the root of Lehua
At the horizon
Greetings, O heavenly foundation
Greetings, O foundation of the world
Chilled to the bone I am.