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Kahekili and Kalaniʻōpuʻu

Updated: Nov 22, 2022



Photo: Ku'ialuaopuna


VOLUME I WAI O KE OLA: HE WAHI MO‘OLELO NO MAUI HIKINA A Collection of Native Traditions and Historical Accounts of the Lands of Hämäkua Poko, Hämäkua Loa and Ko‘olau, Maui Hikina (East Maui), Island of Maui

BY Kepä Maly • Cultural Historian 3 Resources Specialist & Onaona Maly • Researcher PREPARED FOR Garret Hew, Manager East Maui Irrigation Company P.O. Box 791628 Pä‘ia, Hawai‘i 96779 January 17, 2001 ©2002 Kumu Pono Associates Kumu Pono Associates Historical & Archival Documentary Research · Oral History Studies · Integrated Cultural Resources Management Planning · Preservation & Interpretive Program Development

Pg. 28-29



Wai o ke ola: he wahi moʻolelo no Maui Hikina (Vol. I)

Few references to sites or events in the Hāmākua-Koʻolau region are found again, until ca. 1776 when Kalaniʻōpuʻu (king of Hawaiʻi) invaded Maui, and met the warriors of Kahekili in battle on the plain of Kamaʻomaʻo. In this battle, the fierce warriors of Maui were likened to various elements of the forests of Hāmākua: …Like the fiery petals of the lehua blossoms of Piʻiholo were the soldiers of Ka-hekili, red among the leaves of the koa trees of Lilikoʻi or as one glimpses them through the kukui trees of Haʻiku… [Kamakau 1961:87] Once again, in ca. 1778, Kalaniʻōpuʻu invaded the kingdom of Kahekili, attacking Kaupō, Kahoʻolawe, and Lāhainā; and it was in these battles, that the young Kamehameha, exhibited his prowess on the battle field as well. Mauiʻs forces eventually drove Kalaniʻōpuʻuʻs army from Maui, and they took Lānaʻi by force. The people and resources of Lānaʻi were abused and overtaxed, and a famine came upon the island. Kalaniʻōpuʻu then determined to sail to Koʻolau, Maui, and Kamakau described the events in the following narratives: Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu decided to go on to Koʻolau, Maui, where food was abundant. He went to Kaʻanapali and fed his soldiers upon the taro of Honokahua… At Hamakualoa Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu landed and engaged in battle, but Ka-hekili hastened to the aid of his men, and they put up such a fierce fight that Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu fled to his canoes. Landing at Koʻolau he slew the common people and maltreated the captives by urinating into their eyes. Descendants of people so treated are alive today. From Hana, Mahi-hele-lima, commander of the fortress Kaʻuiki, joined forces with Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu, and for six months the fighting continued. During this campaign, carried on for half a year, from 1778 to 1779, with fighting at Kaupo, Lahaina, Lanai, Hamakualoa, and Koʻolau, Kamehameha, as well as his master in warfare, Ke-ku-hau-piʻo, distinguished himself for skill and bravery in war… [Kamakau 1961:91]

Kamakau also recorded that it was while the battles were occurring on Maui, and Kalaniʻōpuʻu was at Wailua, Koʻolau, that Captain James Cook and his ships sailed along the coast of Maui Hikina. In Kamakauʻs version of the arrival, readers learn that Cook anchored near Haʻaluea Rock (pointed out in oral history interviews conducted as a part of the present study as an area fronting the canoe landing of Wailuanui):

While Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu was in Wailua in Koʻolau, Maui, on the evening of November 19, 1778, Captain Cookʻs ship was sighted northeast of Mokuhoʻoniki with the prow turned a little to the southeast. It was seen at Kahakuloa, and the news spread over the island, then at Hamakua, and at evening it was seen in Koʻolau. The night passed, and the next day the ship was anchored at Haʻaluea just below Wailua. When they saw that its appearance exactly fitted the description given by Moho, there was no end of excitement among the people over the strange object. “The tower of Lono! Lono the god of our fathers!” they exclaimed, redoubling their cries at the thought that this was their god Lono who had gone to Kahiki. The men went out in such numbers to visit the ship that it was impossible for all to get on board.

When the canoes returned to shore, Kalaʻi-mamahuʻ persuaded Kamehameha and one other to remain on board, and that night the ship sailed away taking Kamehameha and his companions and by morning it had disappeared. Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu thought that Kamehameha must have gone away to Kahiki. He was displeased and ordered Ke-paʻa-lani to bring them all back. Ke-paʻa-lani took six paddlers and a large single canoe supplied with food and water. Puhie declared that within two days and two nights they would sight the ship. Maui disappeared, and Mauna Kea rose before them out of the waves. Kamehameha, looking out, saw a white object on the wave and said to Kalaʻi-mamahuʻ, “Is that a canoe or only a wave ?” “Where?” “Yonder.” As they watched it became clearly a canoe, and Kamehameha guessed that it was Ke-paʻa-lani come to seek them. But Captain Cook had no intention of carrying them away; he only wanted them to guide him to a good harbor on Hawaii. Captain Cook may have sailed by a map made by the Spaniards, for how else could he have found the proper harbors at Waimea, Mahukona, and Kealakekua? As for Ke-paʻa-lani he was relieved, for he had already sailed two [page 97] days and nights without sighting the ship. Kamehameha pointed out the canoe to Captain Cook and then pointed toward Maui. Cook would not consent; he pointed to the ship and then to Hawaii. Again Kamehameha pointed to Maui, and the ship turned about and reached Wailua in a single night… [Kamakau 1961:98]



In 1863, native author, J.W. Kaiole, wrote “The last King of Maui was Kahekili. It is said that he was born at Hāliʻimaile, Makawao. His father was Kalanikuʻihonoikamoku, and his mother was Kekuʻiapoiwa (the first)” (Kaiole in Nupepa Ku Okoa, June 20, 1863:4; Maly, translator).

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