When a person who lived in the mountains passed away, their organs were also removed, and the body was filled with soft, young shoots of the hāpu‘u (fern) and herbs for preservation. These herbs were often used to absorb pollutant fluids in the body.

One of the many herbs used to preserve bodies was the sacred kī plant, or lā‘ī in Hawaiian. Lā‘ī belonged to Lono, the god of healing and peace. Kahuna would wear this plant in ceremonies to ward off evil and negative energy. Hawaiians would also plant the kī around their house for protection against evil spirits.

 

In the case of a deceased chief, the root of the kī plant was grated and rubbed onto all parts of the body, including the mouth and nostrils, acting as a preservative. The juice from the kī leaf plant was used as an embalming fluid for the deceased. This worked as a sealant, keeping out air and rot.