Updated: Sep 18
Traditions of the Lands of the
Kumu Pono Associates LLC HiKaha89(b) © Apr. 7, 2007
(prepared by Kepä Maly, Cultural Historian and Resource Specialist 1 )
This moolelo is only a fraction of the whole story. The story of Ka-Miki was published in the Hawaiian language newspaper Ka Hoku o Hawaii (1914-1917). It was published by Hawaiian historians John Wise and J.W.H.I. Kihe with contributions by local informants.
This mo‘olelo is set in the 1300s (by association with the chief Pili-a-Ka‘aiaea), and is an account of two supernatural brothers, Ka-Miki (The quick, or adept, one) and Maka-‘iole (Rat [squinting] eyes). The narratives describe the birth of the brothers, their upbringing, and their journey around the island of Hawai‘i along the ancient ala loa and ala hele (trails and paths) that encircled the island. During their journey, the brothers competed alongside the trails they traveled, and in famed kahua (contest fields) and royal courts, against ‘ölohe (experts skilled in fighting or in other competitions, such as running, fishing, debating, or solving riddles, that were practiced by the ancient Hawaiians). They also challenged priests whose dishonorable conduct offended the gods of ancient Hawai‘i. Ka-Miki and Maka-‘iole were empowered by their ancestress Ka-uluhe-nui-hihi- kolo-i-uka (The great entangled growth of uluhe fern which spreads across the uplands), who was one of the myriad of body forms of the goddess Haumea, the earth-mother, creative force of nature who was also called Papa or Hina. Among her many nature-form attributes were manifestations that caused her to be called upon as a goddess of priests and competitors.
Place Names, Sites and Features of Kahalu‘u, Keauhou, and Neighboring Lands– Recorded in “Ka‘ao Ho‘oniua Pu‘uwai no Ka-Miki”
Born in ‘e‘epa (mysterious – premature) forms, Ka-Miki and Maka-‘iole were the children of Pöhaku- o-Käne (k) and Kapa‘ihilani (w), the ali‘i of the lands of Kohana-iki and Kaloko. Being aware of the nature of the brothers, Ka-uluhe-nui-hihi-kolo-i-uka retrieved and raised the boys and instructed them in the use of their supernatural powers. From her, they learned various techniques of contest skills, in preparation for a journey which they would take around Hawai‘i Island.
After a period of training and tests, the brothers joined their ancestress in an ‘awa ceremony. When Ka-uluhe-nui-hihi-kolo-i-uka (Ka-uluhe) fell asleep, the brothers ventured from their residence at Kalama‘ula to visit some of the places of Kona. Their journey took them from Kalama‘ula to the cliffs of Kealakekua. Upon returning to Kalama‘ula, Ka-uluhe inquired about what the brothers had seen. As they described the places they visited, Ka-uluhe explained to the brothers the nature of the lands, features and people that they had seen. In these early narratives of the mo‘olelo, we find references to the villages of Kahalu‘u and Keauhou:
...The village with the walled pond and grove of hau and coconut trees was Kahalu‘u, and Kahalu‘u-kai-äkea was the chief who controlled the ahupua‘a which bears his name.
He was the father of the beautiful, glowing-skinned chiefess, Mäkole‘ä. The beauty of Kahalu‘u is described with the saying “Kahalu‘u ua ‘äina ala i ka wai puka iki o Helani” (Kahalu‘u is the land [known for] the small rising waters of Helani.)
At Kahalu‘u, Hale‘öpele was the ähua (hillock-agricultural feature) covered with coconut trees...
...A hö‘ea i ke kuono iloko he ‘ili‘ili wale no ke one, a ke kai e po‘i ana me ka ho‘omaha ‘ole o nä Keauhou ia — And when you arrived at a bay with pebbly sand, where the ocean continuously laps upon the shore it was Keauhou...
A komo mai la ‘olua i ka ulu ‘öhi‘a o nä Keauhou ia, o ka ulu ‘öhi‘a o Moku‘aikaua — and when you entered the ‘öhi‘a grove in the lands of Keauhou, it was the ‘öhi‘a grove of Moku‘aikaua...
The brothers then continued their instruction under Ka-uluhe. Among the skills taught to Ka-Miki mä were all manner of lua (martial arts) fighting; lele (leaping); käkä lä‘au (spear fighting) in the technique called Ka-make-loa; alo pöhaku (dodging stones); nou pöhaku (sling stone fighting); ha‘iha‘i (bone breaking); mokomoko (wrestling); ku‘i-a-lua (a striking type of lua fighting); kükini (speed running); wala lä‘au (war club fighting); pïkoi (tripping club fighting); kulakula‘i (a shoving type of fighting); ‘ölelo ho‘opäpä (debating and riddling); and ka ‘oihana lawai‘a hï-aku (bonito lure fishing). The brothers were also instructed in healing arts as well.
Departing from Kalama‘ula, Ka-Miki and Maka-‘iole set out on their quest around the island of Hawai‘i, to challenge disreputable ‘ölohe and priests whose dishonorable conduct offended the gods of ancient Hawai‘i. The journey took the brothers first through the lands of Kona — O Kona i ka pohu nä‘ü ke keiki e käohi ala i ke kükuna o ka lä, O Kona ia! (Kona in the calm where children take in their breath and then chant, claiming the rays of the sun as their own. Indeed, it is Kona!). Their path took them to the kahua (contest arena) at Käulaokalani (Hölualoa), where they met with the representatives of the chief Kahalu‘u-kai-äkea; and then traveled on to meet the priest Keahiolo, for whom the heiau near the Kahalu‘u-Keauhou 1st boundary, is named:
Käulaokalani was the name of the kahua le‘ale‘a (contest field) of Hölualoa. Käulaokalani is not far from the heiau (temple) of Päkiha and the hälau ali‘i (chief's compound [residence of Keäkealaniwahine]).
The priest of who served Hölualoa at Päkiha was Kaluaokalani. Ka-Miki and Maka-‘iole arrived at Käulaokalani, where contests are being held as well. Ka-Miki mä met with the chiefess Keolonähihi—daughter of Hölualoa. Keolonähihi told the brothers about the nature of the contest overseer and the two competitors who were on the kahua. Halekumukalani was the ilämuku (contest official) of these competitions, he was the general-counselor for the chief Kahalu‘u-kai-äkea and his daughter Mäkole‘ä—the heiau Halekumukalani in Kahalu‘u was named for this ilämuku of Kahalu‘u. Ku‘emanu, one of the competitors, was a clever warrior-champion who served the chief Kahalu‘u-kai-äkea. The heiau that bears the name Ku‘emanu was named for this warrior champion. Pälau‘eka was the kaulana pa‘a ‘äina (one who secures, or maintains peace upon the land; a land administrator), a warrior who served the chief Kaumalumalu.
Pälau‘eka looked spitefully at Ka-Miki and leapt to attack him, but was quickly thwarted and thrown from the kahua. Pälau‘eka landed in front of the chiefess Keolonähihi, where he died. Because Pälau‘eka died at Hölualoa, a land parcel upon which the heiau of Keolonähihi sits was named for Pälau‘eka, thus the lele or detached land parcel of Pälau‘eka is a part of the land of Kaumalumalu.
Following this swift victory, the crowds roared with enthusiasm and praised the skill of this young warrior, Ka-Miki. Ka-Miki and Maka-‘iole quickly departed from the kahua of Käulaokalani and arrived next at the compound of Keahiolo, situated near the boundary of Kahalu‘u and Keauhou. Keahiolo was he kahuna nui këia a he kaulana pa‘a ‘äina (a high priest and one who secured, or maintained peace upon the land) who served under the chief Pöhaku-nui-o-Käne, who governed the lands between Keauhou and Mä‘ihi.
This powerful priest was jealous of the abilities of Ka-Miki and Maka-‘iole, and he sought to kill them. Keahiolo called the brothers to share ‘awa with him, at the same time he picked up his pïkoi (tripping club) which he had hidden in a mat, and prepared to attack them
Ka-Miki knew the nature of Keahiolo, and Ka-Miki used the ‘olohü (an ‘ulu maika tripping stone) called Ka‘akuamä‘ihi to strike at the feet of Keahiolo, and thus defeated the ‘ölohe priest. Keahiolo apologized for his deception, but Ka-Miki told him there was no value in his repentance, as it was made in fear of his death. Ka-Miki told Keahiolo “your god has departed from you and taken our side. And so, you have seen that Uli is a two - fold deity, looking for that which is right, and that which is wrong as it is said in the prayer” – mele pule:
O Uli i uka, Hail Uli in the uplands, O Uli i kai, Uli in the lowlands,
O Uli nänä pono, O Uli who looks for that which is correct, O Uli nänä hewa... and Uli who looks for that which is in error...
“...Because you leapt first, you transgressed against your god and your god has left you. You have set aside the unwavering laws of the powerful gods and ‘aumäkua which came down from ancient times, from the antiquity of Waiololï and Waiololä. And so Nana-i-ke- kihi-o-Kamalama and Kahuelo-i-ke-kihi-o-Kä‘elo, the descendants of Ka-uluhe-nui-hihi- kolo-i-uka and Lani-nui-ku‘i-a-maomao-loa have come before you.”
Maka-‘iole took compassion and chanted to Ka-Miki asking him to spare the priest. Ka- Miki agreed, Keahiolo repented and prepared ‘awa and a feast for Ka-Miki mä. The heiau near the Keauhou-Kahalu‘u boundary was named for the priest Keahiolo.
Keahiolo then took Ka-Miki (Nana-i-ke-kihi-o-Kamalama) and Maka-‘iole (Kahuelo-kui-ke- kihi-o-Kä‘elo) to the kahua of Kahö‘e‘e (at Keauhou 2nd) where contests were to occur. Kahö‘e‘e was named as a contest field in the lands of Keauhou. The site is also called Ka‘awale because of the manner by which competitors and spectators were separated and kept apart. Keahiolo presented Ka-Miki and Maka-‘iole to the officials, stating they were his mo‘opuna (grandsons), so they were allowed to enter the competition.
The chiefs of Keauhou offered a lei-o-manö (sharks tooth knife) as the victor’s trophy. The lei-o-manö was made by lashing shark’s teeth to the wooden handle with olonä (Touchardia latifolia) cordage, and was one of the foremost and most highly coveted weapons of ancient times. Haumanomano thought he would win easily, and leapt onto the kahua, grabbing Ka-Miki. Ka-Miki promptly threw Haumanomano out of the kahua. This occurred ten times, and all the local competitors were angry that Haumanomano had been so easily defeated by this stranger whom Keahiolo called his grandson.
The officials then called Kuhia, the chiefs' runner to take the lei-o-manö to Ka-Miki as his prize for victory over Haumanomano, and ‘Öhi‘amukumuku was called as the next contestant.
‘Öhi‘amukumuku was a ‘ölohe pükani pa‘a ‘äina for the chief Pöhakunuiokäne, the heiau by the name of ‘Öhi‘amukumuku [in Kahalu‘u] was named for this famous warrior. ‘Öhi‘amukumuku was greatly angered that Ka-Miki had won the contest, and sought to return the lei-o-manö to the local competitors. A contest between ‘Öhi‘amukumuku and Ka-Miki was arranged, and the chief's offered the pïkoi (tripping club) named Lawalawa- ku‘i-a-ho‘i, as a prize to the victor. This particular club had crosswise cuts across the wood (serrated edge) and a perforation through which it was bound with cordage. Indeed, it was one of the extraordinary weapons of those people skilled in warfare of past times and was highly coveted.
contest between Ka-Miki and ‘Öhi‘amukumuku took the forms of kula‘i (shoving contests) and ‘auamo (lifting one's opponent and throwing him from the arena). ‘Öhi‘amukumuku was thrown from the kahua five times, thus the victory and prize went to Ka-Miki (who gave his name as Nana-i-ke-kihi-o-ka-malama). All those gathered were amazed at ‘Öhi‘amukumuku's defeat. ‘Öhi‘amukumuku and Haumanomano were so angered at being thus humiliated, that they made an agreement to kill Ka-Miki, Maka-‘iole and Keahiolo.
When the next round of contests began, Haumanomano entered the kahua and challenged Ka-Miki to fighting with hauna lä‘au (war clubs). Haumanomano's club was named ‘Io (hawk), the club was more than three fathoms long and more than three feet in diameter and glistened with the oils of coconuts and kukui. Haumanomano then called to Ka-Miki telling him that he would indeed need great wisdom to escape from death dealt by his powerful hauna lä‘au .
The contest official asked Ka-Miki, where his club was, and Ka-Miki explained that it was with his teacher (Ka-uluhe). Ka-Miki chanted to Maka-‘iole, calling his name attributes, and requesting that he go to Kalama‘ula and fetch the club ‘Ölapa-kahuila-o-ka-lani – mele:
E Kahuelo-i-ke-kihi-o-ka-malama, Say Kahuelo at the corner [point]
of light [the star Kamalama]
O Kä‘elo, ‘elo ka malama, O Kä‘elo [star] of the moist season, O Kä‘elo, ‘elo ka lä.. O Kä‘elo [star] of the moist days...
Like a swift wind which scatters the leaves, Maka-‘iole departed and fetched the war club. In no time Maka-‘iole returned with the club, and when those gathered at the kahua saw how quickly he had returned, and how great the club he bore was, they knew that these ‘ölohe were true experts. Ka-Miki asked Haumanomano how victory would be gained, and Haumanomano said only by the death of the opponent.
When the contest began, Haumanomano leapt to attack, but Ka-Miki knew Haumanomano's techniques, and dodged the attack. Ka-Miki struck at Haumanomano throwing him from the kahua, and the assembled crowd cried out at this great show of skill (July 16, 1914).
‘Öhi‘amukumuku then leapt to the kahua, challenging Ka-Miki to a spear fighting contest. When the contest began, ‘Öhi‘amukumuku thrust at Ka-Miki, aiming for his mid-section, but Ka-Miki dodged the attacks; Ka-Miki's skills and agility were compared to that of the hawk which circles in the heavens:
Ka ‘io nui ho‘änoäno, The great sacred hawk,
Nana e popo‘i ke aewa, Circles overhead in the heavens, O ka lani iluna lilo. And reaches the heights.
He lani ka manu aewa. The bird sways in the heavens.
A‘ohe lälä kau ‘ole. And there is no branch upon which it cannot
Kau i ka lälä malo‘o. It can land on the dry branches, Kau i ka lälä maka... It can land on the green branches...
Ka-Miki praised ‘Öhi‘amukumuku's skills but told him that he could not win. ‘Öhi‘amukumuku responded that Ka-Miki could not avoid being killed by ‘Ohi-kapili-a- lo‘ulo‘u, his spear, cherished by ‘Öhi‘amukumuku's ‘aumakua. ‘Öhi‘amukumuku struck at Ka-Miki, but was thwarted and Ka-Miki scored against him, striking his thigh and throwing from the kahua. The officials called for a break in the contest and the crowd surged forth to see this young champion. Ka-Miki and his companions took this opportunity to depart from Keauhou, going to the hälau ali‘i (royal compound of the chief Honalo— father of the chiefess Käinäliu. This is the chiefess, that Ka-Miki had previously returned to life. Honalo mä prepared a feast, and ‘awa was obtained from the uplands of Keauhou to host the guests for Honalo.
...La‘a-hiwa-mai-Kahiki was the name of a taro plantation between Keauhou and Käinäliu; ‘awa and many other items were also grown in numerous plantations of the region.
The chiefs of Keauhou greatly desired to meet with Ka-Miki, Maka-‘iole, and Keahiolo, and a rumor arose that Ka-Miki mä were plotting to overthrow Pöhakunuiokäne and the region chiefs. Thus the chiefs sent their runners, Kuhia and ‘Öulu to find Ka-Miki mä and bring them back dead or alive... Kuhia4 and ‘Öulu arrived at Keahiolo's compound, but could not find Ka-Miki mä so they then went to Honalo.
Kuhia and ‘Öulu arrived at Honalo and asked for the brothers and Keahiolo. Ka-Miki told all those assembled in the hälau to stay inside, and that any who tried to go out would be killed. Honalo gave Ka-Miki power over those inside the hälau. Kuhia and ‘Öulu announced that they intended to bring Ka-Miki, Maka-‘iole, and Keahiolo before the chiefs and assembly at Keauhou. The chiefs wished to question Ka-Miki mä about rumors that they were rebels. Kuhia and ‘Öulu threatened to kill those within the hälau, if Ka-Miki mä were not turned over to them. As Kuhia and ‘Öulu readied their stones for the attack, Ka-Miki leapt to the entry of the hälau and called to the runners, that they should be careful lest they become the shark bait of his uncle Kapukalua at Apo‘ula, Kohana-iki.
Now Kuhia and ‘Öulu were masters at nou ‘olohü (fighting with ‘ulu maika stone trippers), and Kuhia threw his stone attempting to hit Ka-Miki. But Ka-Miki dodged the ‘olohü, and Maka-‘iole caught it, ‘Öulu tried with his stone, and Ka-Miki dodged it as well. Ka-Miki then leapt to attack the runners, saying that they would be laid to rest. Kuhia and ‘Öulu saw that they had no retreat and were killed.
Thus, Pupukaniaho, the kälai wa‘a, priests, and people in the hälau realized, that if the chief Honalo had not given his power to Ka-Miki, they might all have died. Ka-Miki then returned the power to Honalo, but asked that no one say anything about this event to those from Keauhou. Ka-Miki then had Kuhia and ‘Öulu buried in the cave of Keanawai, a cave in the uplands of Honalo, where the tall ‘öhi‘a, uluhe, and ‘äma‘uma‘u forest grow…