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Keawe-Kaʻiana-a-Ahuula (part 2)

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Photo: Ku'ialuaopuna

Originally published in

Ka Hoku o Hawaii

Kamehameha and his warrior Kekūhaupi‘o

Written in Hawaiian by Reverend Stephen L. Desha

Translated by Frances N. Frazier

Produced with the assistance of the State of Hawai‘i Historic Preservation Division, DLNR

Kamehameha Schools Press Honolulu • 2000 Kamehameha and his warrior Kekūhaupiʻo pg 401-408


Amongst those who went on this expedition against Kalanikūpule on O‘ahu were Ka‘iana and Nāhi‘ōle‘a who had many men with them, perhaps as many as six lau or twenty-four hundred by the counting of this time. The warriors of these ali‘i are enumerated because, perhaps, there will come a separation between them and Kamehameha as the progression of this story will show.

On this journey of Kamehameha with his high chiefs and skilled generals, supported by those four ships which were navigated by his haole friends, they first landed at Lahaina, Maui. At this landing, the shores of Lahaina were covered over by Kamehameha’s large war canoes (wa‘a kaua peleleu). Perhaps four miles of the Lahaina shoreline were covered by numerous canoes, from the boundary of Launiupoko almost to the hill of Keka‘a. On landing at Lahaina, Kamehameha called a conference of his generals and important ali‘i as well as his seers and counselors (kuhikuhipu‘uone). Also, at this conference was the renowned warrior Kekūhaupi‘o as Kamehameha never departed from the words of guidance by Holo‘ae and his son-in-law, Kekūhaupi‘o.

The reason for calling this conference was to appoint the classes of the various leaders of Kamehameha’s armies, and because he believed in discussing the war strategies of this expedition so that the leaders understood their duties. This was truly wise of this renowned ali‘i of this most famous island of Hawai‘i Nui Kuauli.

At this conference the various ali‘i presented their ideas. The ali‘i Ka‘iana was the one who was most clear in his strategy, but he was unanimously opposed by the others.

Because Ka‘iana’s strategic plan was not well received, he became resentful and removed himself from the meeting. His warriors were separated from the other armies, and this was the beginning of the trouble between this famous warlike ali‘i of Kamehameha and most of the ali‘i, and with Kamehameha himself.

Let us lay aside speaking of this difficulty which arose, and cast an interpretation of this sea expedition as though we, my good reader, were there standing in “the calm of Hauola,”153 gazing at the wave-furrowed sea of ‘Alenuihāhā where Kamehameha’s innumerable war fleet sailed under the leadership of his chiefs.

The sea channel of ‘Alenuihāhā was passed and the innumerable canoe fleets and the four warships arrived at and reddened the ‘Alalākeiki Channel and came to the sea of ‘Au‘au. On close approach, the four foreign ships could be seen with the chiefesses of Kamehameha’s court on board. Some of these fearless chiefly women could be seen holding their muskets. Kamehameha stood in their midst with his great spear, adorned with his beautiful feather cloak and yellow-feathered helmet and topped with the feathers of the lehua-nectar-sipping ‘apapane bird of the upland of Hawai‘i. To gaze at this famous conqueror of our beloved land was to see a truly distinguished ali‘i, one in whom every Native Hawaiian can take pride. This con-queror was surrounded by his important ali‘i, and they gazed at the island of Maui with its mountains burdened by mists which draped their peaks. He stood with the pride of a fearless warrior chief whose breast was full of the flashing fire of bravery.

Should not we, standing in “the calm of Hauola,” celebrate the truly prideful status of this foremost chieftain of Polynesia who was perhaps the most excellent of the kings who ruled this entire archipelago?

How can the Native Hawaiian, who cherishes his native land, forget the story of this most famous ali‘i of his land and his warriors who, with him, conquered the land in the dust of battle?

Are not we, O reader, also proud of the rightness of this conquest by Kamehameha, and shall we not perpetuate the remembrance and preserve the love of the ali‘i in the hearts of the true Native Hawaiian for his remarkable ali‘i and for his most beautiful land distinguished as the Paradise of the Pacific? This famous ali‘i had truly arrived at “the calm of Hauola” and was entertained with enthusiasm by the people of the very first capital of Hawai‘i Nei, the birthplace of myself and Senator Judge Makekau, who now lives at the “Steep Trails of Hāmākua” and who fishes for the infant eels of that crooked, twisting land. Beloved is the land of our birth, O Makekau, yet from this land of our birth first arose the internal conflict in the battle strategy of the famous conqueror of Hawai‘i Nei.

Regrettable indeed was the first growth of this wretched seed at our birthplace, but perhaps this is the way of the world. Various are the thoughts of the leaders of the land.

However, the famed story of beloved Lahaina is not lost by this first growth of difference between many of the ali‘i and Ali‘i Ka‘iana. This also was the beginning of the alienation between Kamehameha and this warlike ali‘i from the sun-snatching island to leeward [Kaua‘i].

When Ka‘iana‘ahu‘ula realized that there was a split between himself and the minds of the ali‘i, and also from the army of Kamehameha, it was near to the time when the fleet and the ships were to depart from Lahaina and sail to Moloka‘i. He went and met with his wife, the high-ranking ali‘i wahine Kekupuohi, and spoke these words to her: “What a pity for the two of us. Here am I supporting our family,154 and perhaps you will follow after this burden (luhi) of ours.” Kekupuohi understood these words by her beloved husband and she replied tearfully: “What of this indeed! I support my lord and ruler, and if my ruler should rebuke (pā) you, my husband, this lap (‘ūhā) 155 is for him, but so also is it for you.” These two ali‘i separated because she supported her hānai ali‘i Kamehameha, and did not follow after her husband.

When husband and wife separated, Ka‘iana‘ahu‘ula left Kamehameha and sailed to meet with Ali‘i Kalanikūpule, giving his assistance to that ali‘i ‘ai moku of O‘ahu. Kekupuohi did not speak of the words between herself and her husband, nor did Ka‘iana speak his mind at Lahaina concerning his immediate departure from Kamehameha. If perhaps the ali‘i had retracted and asked for another conference with Ka‘iana, he might not have left Kamehameha. However, the ali‘i under Kamehameha were firm in their disdain of Ka‘iana, and he did not hear of some of the plans for making war on Kalanikūpule.

On the arrival of Kamehameha’s war fleet at Kaunakahakai, the shore from Kaunakahakai to Kalama‘ula was covered over by his canoes. On arrival there, a secret conference was held by Kamehameha’s ali‘i who did not wish Ka‘iana to know of it, and his hoahānau was also excluded. However, in spite of the desire by those people on the side of Kamehameha that their discussion not be heard, the wife of Nāhi‘ōle‘a, the hoahānau of Ka‘iana, had been present. This ali‘i wahine, whose name was Inaina, had secretly followed the discussion, and Nāhi‘ōle‘a heard it from her.

Nāhi‘ōle‘a’s wife heard first-hand this discussion concerning the absolute exclusion of Ka‘iana from this war of conquest, and that he was not to be told of the strategies planned, and she told Nāhi‘ōle‘a everything. Nāhi‘ōle‘a determined to tell his hoahānau Ka‘iana of this discussion by the ali‘i.

On the day after this secret meeting, Ka‘iana passed by Kamiloloa where Nāmāhana, the mother-in-law of Kamehameha, was staying.

When Nāmāhana, the mother of Ka‘ahumanu, saw this ali‘i who was a long-time general of the ali‘i Kamehameha, she called hospitably for him to enter into the house.

As soon as Ka‘iana entered the house, Nāmāhana told him of everything that had passed at the secret meeting of the ali‘i of Kamehameha’s court. When Ka‘iana had heard everything, he said to Nāmāhana:

I knew of this while we were at Lahaina. I knew they despised me at that place where they met, and I was absolutely not invited to their secret meeting. I know how they feel about me. Perhaps these red-footed ali‘i (ali‘i wāwae ‘ula‘ula) desire to make an offering of me because they oppose me. Perhaps this is possible for they do not wish the services of my spear. Perhaps we shall all move.

After this conversation with the ali‘i wahine Nāmāhana, he bade her farewell and left that place. While he was passing Kapa‘akea where Kalanimoku was encamped with his army, this bald-headed ali‘i saw him, his companion of the battlefield. Affection welled up in him and he called to Ka‘iana saying: “E ‘iwi‘ula ē! E ‘iwi‘ula ho‘i ē! Come hither and eat!” When Ka‘iana heard Kalanimoku calling him, he took advantage of the invitation by his chiefly comrade.


When Ka‘iana sat down in the house with Kalanimoku, he was quickly told of what he had already known and that the ali‘i of Kamehameha’s court really despised him. When Ka‘iana heard this from his companion with whom he had faced the pain of the battlefield, he immediately left Kalanimoku’s place and went directly to Kamehameha, desiring to speak to him.

When he met with Kamehameha, he said abruptly to him: “E Kamehameha ē! What is this grumbling of those people about me, those people who only fill the canoe? I would have thought, having stood alone with you through hard times for sixteen years, that you would know me, and where were those incompetent people (po‘e ho‘ohāhā pa‘akai)? 156 Hear you, O Ali‘i Kamehameha, it’s a good thing that you have conquered the island of Hawai‘i. However, I tell you without reservation that I am going to the other side from you, O chief. Because I am completely cut off from the group, a humiliating death would result.” When Ka‘iana had spoken these words to Kamehameha, he stood up and went straight off and met with Nāhi‘ōle‘a, his hoahānau, and told him everything he had learned from those ali‘i. Ka‘iana’s words were confirmed by Inaina, Nāhi‘ōle‘a’s wife. At this time they decided to leave Kamehameha, sail to O‘ahu, and support Kalanikūpule, the ali‘i ‘ai moku of O‘ahu.

We see, O reader, this trouble that grew between Ali‘i Ka‘iana and his lord, Kamehameha, which had happened because of the jealousy of some ali‘i. Not only this, but this trouble occurred because of gossip concerning the attraction of Ka‘ahumanu to Ka‘iana, the handsome Kaua‘i ali‘i. Doubt had grown within Kamehameha concerning this Kaua‘i ali‘i. Ka‘iana was supplied with arms and he was the first to have supplied Kamehameha with foreign weapons. Perhaps Kamehameha was influenced by the words of the seers at the court of Kamehameha concerning Ka‘ahumanu which were that, if the affections of Ka‘ahumanu should go to another ali‘i, she might turn and rebel against Kamehameha which would adversely affect his conquest of the kingdom. Ka‘iana and Nāhi‘ōle‘a immediately prepared their people and their canoe fleet and left Moloka‘i and, from there, landed on the Ko‘olau side of the island of O‘ahu. From that place at Ko‘olau, he led his people to a meeting with Kalanikūpule. Ka‘iana told him of his departure with his hoahānau from Kamehameha and that they had brought their weapons to assist Kalanikūpule.

This was well in the mind of Kalanikūpule, and he welcomed these ali‘i formerly on Kamehameha’s side who would join him in opposing Kamehameha when he arrived on O‘ahu.

After Ka‘iana departed from Moloka‘i, Kamehameha immediately began preparing his warriors, leaders, and canoe fleet to sail to O‘ahu to fight Kalanikūpule. When Kamehameha’s fleet arrived at O‘ahu, it covered over the sea from Wai‘alae to Waikīkī.

His warriors sprang ashore on the soil of O‘ahu, and immediately Kamehameha began to order his forces and prepare his battle strategy. In this, Kekūhaupi‘o was of great assistance together with the kahuna nui Holo‘ae as well as the generals. For three days this organization went on, and on the third night after his landing on O‘ahu, he climbed with Keaweokahikona and two O‘ahu ali‘i who had turned to Kamehameha’s side. They climbed up above Hauhaukoi, Kapālama. This was a journey for Kamehameha to drink ‘awa, as this was the place where the royal heiau of Lonoikekūpali‘i stood. By the nature of Kamehameha’s status as a kahuna nui who had been instructed in the kapu of the heiau of the gods of Hawai‘i Nei, the kapu of that heiau was removed for Pai‘ea Kamehameha. The ‘awa-drinking platform (papa ‘inu‘awa) was set up, and immediate preparations for the ‘awa-drinking ceremony for Kamehameha were begun. When the cups of ‘awa for Kamehameha and his companions were ready, they drank, and at the end of the ceremony, they returned to Waikīkī where Kamehameha’s armies were encamped.

On the next day, which was the fourth after Kamehameha’s landing on O‘ahu, he quickly organized his movements to battle with Kalanikūpule’s warriors. From the Wai‘alae side were the armies called Huelokū and Hunalele, together with that called Kaikaoa of the young ali‘i Kekuaokalani who was the son of Kamehameha’s kaikaina. They numbered three lau [twelve hundred].

The army called ‘Ālapa numbering six lau [twenty-four hundred] was directly under Ali‘i Kamehameha, assisted by his renowned warrior Kekūhaupi‘o.

The area from Waikīkī to Pu‘uohawai‘i, just above Kunawai, was filled with the warriors of the ali‘i Kamehameha.

The ali‘i wahine were encamped just a little seaward of Ma‘ema‘e, together with the young ali‘i warriors, and they were guarded by a certain strong group of Kamehameha’s warriors.

Kamehameha’s multitude were on the seaward side of Ma‘ema‘e, and upland of Ma‘ema‘e, were Kalanikūpule’s multitude. It was said that the upland from Pū‘iwa as far as Luakaha was covered by the various armies of Ali‘i Kalanikūpule, and in the very middle, were Ka‘iana and his hoahānau Nāhi‘ōle‘a who had been seasoned on various battlefields.




153 According to Pukui (1983:154, #1425), this expression implies peace and comfort. Hauola is an ancient surfing area off of Lahaina, Maui, and the name of a stone offshore of the Lahaina Public Library associated with ensuring easy births for pregnant women (Pukui, Elbert, and Mookini 1974:42).

154 This probably refers to Ka‘iana’s relationship to Kalanikūpule.

155 The term ‘ūhā is used to infer a hānai relationship between Kekupuohi and Kamehameha.

156 The phrase po‘e ho‘ohāhā pa‘akai indicates incompetent, ineffectual people.




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