Show Me da Mo’o

Many creatures that we see daily here in Hawaii become like friends or guardians in the day to day, greeting us as we pass, or reminding us to slow down and tune in to nature.  A garden can become a place that invites us to appreciate and interact with nature.  Often backyard creatures will take respite in a garden oasis – which is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem.  These creatures become residents in your home or outdoor space, for better or for worse.

One of our favorite creatures to cross paths with daily are the many geckos and lizards that have come to inhabit the Hawaiian Islands.  Having a ‘house Gecko’ is a sign of good luck and protection and can aid in eating pesky bugs.  Geckos and lizards or ‘mo’o’ in Hawaiian, have become a sort of emblem for communication with the spirit world.  This relationship with an animal or natural element is referred to as an ‘Aumakua’.   Aumakua are familial guardians or ancestors who can assume the form of animals and plants or other forms occurring in nature.  Aumakua is a spiritual ally.

Lizards, or mo’o are considered a significant Aumakua – stemming from legend of a giant dragon-like water lizard that would guard and protect the fish ponds and fresh water sources. If the water was green, it meant that the giant mo’o was present, and swimming was to be avoided.

Mo’o legends are plentiful, such as the story of Hina, the goddess of the moon, and her battle with the Mo’o Kuna. Legend has it that Hina was being hunted by the Mo’o Kuna, a giant lizard that threatened to eat her. In order to escape, Hina camouflaged herself as a rock and waited for the Mo’o Kuna to pass by. Once the creature had passed, Hina emerged and used her powers to turn the Mo’o Kuna into stone.

At Garden Ponds Nursery we often see the sunning mo’o perched on a garden statue – soaking up the radiant heat from the stone or concrete statues.  If you are lucky, you might see one atop a Komodo dragon statue – a funny sight! At night, we hear the quintessential ‘chirping’ of the geckos, seemingly agreeing with or emphasizing a conversation.

Photo Contest: Show us da Mo’o

Submit a photo that includes a lizard or gecko in the garden – bonus points if it features any Garden Ponds merchandise such as water lilies, ceramic pots, stone vessels, rain chains or statues. Winning photo will be published in the Garden Island Newspaper and the chosen photo will be rewarded with a Garden Ponds gift certificate valued at $200.  Photos can be emailed to [email protected] or tagged via Instagram as #showmedamoo

For a full outline of the contest rules visit:

Garden Ponds is located in Kilauea, next to the Kauai Mini Golf. We are open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. (Saturdays we are open 10-5 ).  Give us a call at 808-828-6400 or visit our website