ʻIwa – Great Frigatebird

Fregata minor
Stated-recognized Indigenous
NatureServe Heritage Rank G4 – Apparently secure
North American Waterbird
Conservation Plan
Moderate Concern
Regional Seabird
Conservation Plan
USFWS 2005
Kumulipo: Hawaiian Creation Chant

Hanau ka Moho, he makua
Born was the Rail, the parent
Puka kana keiki he Moli, lele
Out came its child a brown Albatross, and flew
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ʻŌlelo Noʻeau

Fig., thief, so called because it steals food by forcing other birds to disgorge; also used figuratively for a handsome person, as follows: Kīkaha ka ʻiwa, he lā makani, poises the frigate bird, a windy day [of a handsome person who draws attention, as does the ʻiwa bird poised aloft]. Ka ʻiwa ālai maka, the frigate bird that fascinates the eye [an attractive person]. He iwa ka hoa e like ai (Kel. 134), just like one’s friend the ʻiwa bird (of one dressed up in finery).


1. Frigate or man-of-war bird (Fregata minor palmerstoni); it has a wing span of 12 m. See ex., maʻoha; see sayings, ʻānai, haehae 2. (PCP kiwa.)
2. A native fern (Asplenium horridum) with narrow, feather-shaped fronds 45 to 95 cm long, their dark stems bearing dark-brown hairs and scales. The stems were formerly used for making hats. Also ʻalae. (PCP kiwa.)