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The Kumulipo is a very long Hawaiian chant consisting of over two thousand lines. Ancient Kahunas (Chief Priests) would memorize every word and recite the kumulipo at important events such as the festival of the high god Lono.  The chant tells of the Earth Mother, the Sky Father,  gods and demi-gods, and the creation of the Hawaiian Islands and her people, 

Much of Hawaiian folklore can be identified in other parts of the Pacific area known as Polynesia. It is therefore no surprise to find that the Maori of New Zealand have a similar tradition as the Kumulipo, which they call Wharewananga, or "school of learning". The old cultures of Tahiti, the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, and even Easter Island, also contain similar recitals.

The Kumulipo is divided into two distinct time periods. The first, called "po" is the age of the spirit world. Everything is in darkness, and it is not clear if the earth exists, or if the events described occur in some other, transcendental place. In this era, lower living forms come to be, and the chant depicts the concept of life going through stages similar to the development of a new-born child. One form of matter changes into another, and leads to the existence of early mammals.

The second, called "ao", is started by the coming of light and of the gods who oversee the changing of animals into humans. This is also the time when the light of reason dawns. Life can now cope on its own, and, in the complex form of humans, begins to act otherwise than from impulse.

The last time the full Kumulipo is known to have been solemnly recited, was in 1789. This was in honor of Captain Cook, who was thought to be the god Lono returning to Hawaii.