THE WEATHERVANE

 

     The weathervane in the form of an 'iwa bird with a fish in its mouth is the only one of its kind in the world. At the base of the vane are the "ka iwa kiloumoku”, a fern with slender leaves. The weathervane was dedicated on May 12, 1985 as a gift from the Cox Ohana (some of whom are the Inainas, the Plemers, the Maunakeas, the Kaapanas, the Waiwaioles, the Dempsters and the Coxes).

     When the previous sanctuary was demolished, a weathervane in the form of a rooster was atop the steeple.A weathervane was traditionally used on congregational churches. It seemed only fitting that the present sanctuary continue this tradition. However, the traditional rooster was replaced by a weathervane in the form of an ‘Iwa bird with a fish in its mouth.

     The ‘Iwa Bird is also known as the great frigate bird and it scientific name is Frigata Minor. The Hawaiian meaning of ‘Iwa is thief. The ‘Iwa bird may be 43 inches long. This bird soars and glides gracefully and has a wingspan of seven feet. ‘Iwa birds fly offshore even though their feathers are not waterproof. The feet of this bird aren’t webbed like ducks. ‘Iwa Birds may sometimes travel great distances although these birds are usually non-migratory and stay within a boundary of 50 miles from their home. The type of food that these birds eat consists of fish to squid. They swoop down to the ocean surface and snatch prey using their hooked beaks. ‘Iwa birds are able to fly for hours or even days while in search of food without resting on land. Another way adults and juvinials get food is by stealing fish from other birds while in flight (the reason they were often called thieves) but most of their food is caught on their own. They also may enjoy eating sooty tern chicks and green sea turtle hatchlings.

     The ‘Iwa Bird sets its nest in remote areas or islands that are plentiful with bushes or vegetation. Their nests are poorly made which, is why many of the eggs do not hatch. These birds are very large with wing spans of seven feet although, the bird only weighs about three pounds. Its body consists of a low body weight, and put together with two combined huge wings and a forked tail. This unique body structure allows the ‘Iwa Bird to soar all day on thermal drafts. They perform acrobatics like twist and loops while they are in the air. The color of this bird is black with a white chest. The ‘Iwa Birds doesn’t have much natural predators although; young sea birds are prey to mongoose, cats, and rats. ‘Iwa Birds like to take advantage of thermal or circulating, rising hot air that allow them to rise thousands of feet into the air. Because it flies high into the heavens the 'iwa has also been associated with Hawaiian high chiefs. Many high chiefs included “'iwa” in their names.

     The hills surrounding Haleiwa is where the 'Iwa nests and the name of this historic town, Haleiwa, means “home of the 'Iwa”. The early Hawaiians in seeing several 'Iwa birds flying in a wide circle, knew that it signaled an oncoming storm.

The Hawaiians also believed  “Lele ka 'iwa, malie kai ko'o:", that is to say that when the 'iwa flies [out to sea], the rough sea will be calm." The 'Iwa was used by fishermen to locate schools of fish. 'Iwa is also a name for a fern with slender leaves (“Ka ‘iwa kiloumoku” and because of this ,two leaves of the ‘iwa fern are at the base of the weathervane.

    The religious connotation is brought together with the fish in its mouth.  “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea…(Mathew 13:47-48).

 

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