Posted: Dec 12, 2010
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Kipukas are islands of forest or vegetation that have been surrounded by a lava flow, isolating them from the rest of the forest. Similar to the moolelo stories accounting for the Ehupuaa and Amau fern, Hawaiian stories describe the creation of the kipukas as yet another battle between Pele and Kamapuaa.
It is said that Kamapuaa formed the kipukas in order to protect himself and his forest against the wrath of Pele. Pele would often burn Kamapuaa’s forest, but sometimes these episodes would be much more destructive than others. It is said when Kamapuaa saw this, and realized that Pele may actually burn all his forest, he devised a plan to save parts of it. He would tease Pele, and keep her right on his heels, as he ran giant zigzagging paths down the hillside. Once he reached the bottom, he would return to the top and repeat the pattern, this time overlapping the zigzags. Pele, following right behind him, thought she was burning everything down, but what she didn’t realize is that Kamapuaa’s trails left small pockets of vegetation throughout the hillside. Kamapuaa would eventually run to the ocean and jump in, turning himself into the humuhumunukukuapuaa (trigger fish) and swim to safety. Once Pele had calmed and returned to her home, Kamapuaa would then come back and use seeds from the saved “kipuka” to re-propagate his forests.