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Hawaii-First Encounters with Europeans

Updated: Feb 22


Kamehameha and his warrior Kekūhaupi‘o

Originally published in

Ka Hoku o Hawaii

Kamehameha and his warrior Kekūhaupi‘o

Written in Hawaiian by Reverend Stephen L. Desha

Kamehameha Schools Press Honolulu • 2000

pgs. 55-74


https://ulukau.org/ulukau-books/?a=d&d=EBOOK-ELIBRARY.2.2.5&e=-------haw-20--1--txt-txPT-----------

Kii: Ku'ialuaopuna



“Ah, the foreigner has charge of the thunder.” It was mentioned by a certain historian of Hawai‘i, to wit, Judge Abraham Fornander, that this place [where the encounter between Kamehameha and Captain Cook took place] was close to the place called Wailuaiki, located between Kīpahulu and Hāna on Maui. Perhaps we can argue this, but it is possible for us to understand the beginnings of Kamehameha’s progress because, having witnessed the firing of the cannon on Captain Cook’s ship, his mind became set on attempting to acquire those cannons of the foreigners with flashing eyes.

Captain Cook and the people on board the ship regarded Kamehameha with admiring eyes, because he was the only one who was not mystified at the thundering cannon of the foreigners, and his fearlessness was the subject of conversation amongst them. Because of Kamehameha’s fearlessness, Kekūhaupi‘o’s inner fears ended and he joined with Kamehameha in walking around this cannon of the flashing-eyed men from a foreign land.

Kamehameha turned and said to Kekūhaupi‘o: “E Kekūhaupi‘o ē, do you understand the nature of this great canoe of the foreigner and of our little war canoes? Our canoes are like little pieces of wood alongside this great canoe of the foreigner. How shall we get a large canoe like this?” It is said that their stay on board the foreign ship was the start of the great desire of Kamehameha to try in every way to get such a ship for himself. This ship, so magnificent in appearance, was called “a grove floating in the sea” by ignorant men. Soon after Kamehameha boarded that ship, that “great canoe” was called a moku nui [great island] and perhaps this name was because of the nature of these Hawaiian islands applied in the ancient language of the ancestors of Hawai‘i Nui o Keawe. These were the famous words of Hawai‘i’s chiefs: “The great island of Hawai‘i has movement (He ‘oni na Hawai‘i ka moku nui).


We know from the story of the famous Conqueror of the Pacific that this desire of Kamehameha to have a great ship like this was later fulfilled. He got some ships and founded the sandalwood trade with China, sending his ships with the fragrant wood to the far land of China.


It was not only the size of the ship that Kamehameha appreciated, but he compared the weapons of war on board the foreign ship with their weapons: the long spears, the fighting staffs and some other war materials and compared them with the great cannon and the flashing swords of the foreigner, and the small guns which flashed like lightning. Therefore Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o well understood how superior these foreign weapons were and they became objects of desire. They were later acquired by him and were of great assistance in his conquest of the kingdom.


At this place in our story we speak of the return of King Kalani‘ōpu‘u to Maui to make war on Kahekili. A year had passed after they had seen each other because of the intervention of the young chief [Kīwala‘ō] who went to see Kahekili at Wailuku. Kalani‘ōpu‘u had returned home with great dissatisfaction, because of the slaying of his relatives in the battle in which the Pi‘ipi‘i and the ‘Ālapa were involved, which has been described in previous issues. As Kekūhaupi‘o had told his family at Nāpo‘opo‘o and Ke‘ei, he was the one who went aboard and slept with his chiefly foster son Kamehameha on board Captain Cook’s ship. This was verified by Abraham Fornander, the historian, and supported by another historian of Hawai‘i, named Jarves.16 Therefore there is no argument that Kekūhaupi‘o was not with his lord, Chief Kamehameha, that night on board Captain Cook’s ship Discovery.


In this war expedition by Kalani‘ōpu‘u to Maui, he went as far as Moloka‘i, landing at a place called Kalae, and very nearly sailed to O‘ahu to punish King Kahahana for his aid to Kahekili in that battle in which the Maui people put the Hawai‘i people to flight, and in which the fearless actions of Kekūhaupi‘o and his foster son were seen. The historians of Hawai‘i are unanimous in that Wailuaiki was where Captain Cook arrived and at that place Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o boarded the ship and were taken on the wide ocean until the very time that they were returned. This is the same Wailuaiki of the famous chant by Hi‘iakaikapoliopele, a chant preserved by the ancients of Hawai‘i and chanted by the old men and women of ancient time at the hour of dawn. This writer heard this chant when he was young, and this is the famous chant by Hi‘iaka:


‘O ‘oe ia e Wailuaiki Is it you, O Wailuaiki

E ka lāuli pali o Uli. The dark cliff of Uli.

Ua hele ‘ia e Li‘a Wahine, Traveled by Li‘a Wahine,

E ka wahine kāhea pali The woman calling from the cliff

Kui pua lei o Ho‘akalei ē, Stringing the flowers of Ho‘akalei,

E lei au ā To garland me

E lei ho‘i wau i ka hala I am garlanded indeed with hala

Nā pua hala ‘īloli o Hanakahi, The spotted hala blossomsof Hanakahi,

Ua maka ‘ele‘ele wale i ke anu, Speckled black by the cold,

Ua ‘āhai ‘ia e ke kīna‘u i‘a Carried off by the streaky [rain?]

o Mahamoku, of Mahamoku,

O ku‘u makani lawalawa kua My binding wind of Wailuaiki

Kūpani kapa o Wailuaiki Which flaps the kapa

Honi pua ‘ala kaiāulu The kaiāulu breeze caressing fragrant blossoms

Kāhea ka luna o Kāma‘e ē Call from the heights of Kāma‘eE,

he malihini mai kāu, O, your stranger has arrived

Mai lalo mai ē, no Kona, From leeward, from Kona,

Hō mai ho‘i, he leo ‘ae. Give forth the voice.

E kipa ho‘i hā e pāpāleo ē. To visit and to converse.


The writer has digressed with this song, perhaps to adorn these dreamy days, and we shall turn again and pursue the path of this remarkable story of the famous warrior of Ke‘ei o lalo lilo ē. Perhaps it would be well at this place in our story to explain why the land of Ke‘ei is called a land of slaves, it being mistakenly thought that the persons born in the land of Ke‘ei were subject to disgrace as kauwā, who were despised by the ancestors of Hawai‘i Nei. It is thus connected with this old saying:

“Ke‘ei o lalo lilo.”


Two young chiefesses were sea bathing at Ke‘ei, and when they went ashore to warm themselves on the smooth ‘alā stones, before them was a little sea pool. While they were gazing into it, the Nāpo‘opo‘o chiefess peered over the head of the Ke‘ei chiefess, and the shadow of the Nāpo‘opo‘o girl fell over the shadow of the Ke‘ei girl, and at this time the Nāpo‘opo‘o chiefess said these words: “Your shadow has really passed below, and my shadow is over yours.” This was only chat between those two girls but it was heard by the guardians of those girls, and that saying is famous until this very time, and because of those words Ke‘ei o lalo lilo is thought to be a land of slaves.


At this place in our story, also, it might be appropriate for the writer to explain to the readers of Ka Hoku o Hawaii how the people of Hawai‘i first understood the nature of Captain Cook’s ship, in order to understand some ancient things about our race, which perhaps some people do not now understand, and this is the story concerning these things.

A certain man from Hawai‘i, named Moho, was living on O‘ahu when the foreign ship first arrived at Kaua‘i. A kama‘āina of Kaua‘i sailed to O‘ahu and reported the nature of the ship of the foreigners with flashing eyes. As is the way of the Hawaiian race who grasp the meaning of new things reported to them, the report of that Kaua‘i man was memorized by Moho. When Moho returned to Hawai‘i by way of Hāna, as Kalani‘ōpu‘u and his war fleet were at Hāna at that time, this man reported what he had heard from that Kaua‘i man on O‘ahu. This is his report of the nature of the foreign ship and the men on board it:

It is a section of forest moving on the sea, surrounded by sails and ropes, and placed on it are really large cannon. The men on board that ship sailing on the sea have white wrinkled skins, their heads have corners and they are like gods. Fire comes from their mouths and they have a hole in their sides for waiwai [property] and they thrust in their hands to take out cutlery and jackknives (kanikani) and iron, lei [?] and sharp hard needles, and some other things which they might wish. They are able to thrust down and get fire from within their sides, and light the fire in their mouths. It is clear that those people with cornered heads are gods.


Kamehameha Sails with Cook


While this man was speaking about the foreigners, some of his listeners asked Moho how the foreigners spoke, and at this time Moho inserted a piece of the pōhue vine in his loincloth and imitated the actions of the foreigners when they inserted their hands in their pockets, then he commenced to speak in this fashion:


“‘A hīkapalalē, hīkapalalē, hioluai, walawalakī, waikī pohā, aloha Kahiki, aloha haehae, aloha ka wahine, aloha ke keiki, a aloha ho‘i ka hale.’ This was the speech of the foreigners with the cornered heads,” said that man Moho, and these words were believed by those listeners. This idiotic talk by that mischievous man was truly believed to be the speech of those foreigners with the cornered heads. That first description by Moho of the foreign ship, later boarded by Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o, brought the Hawai‘i people their first news of the foreigners. In a certain portion of the story of Kamehameha it was said that the time that Kamehameha boarded Captain Cook’s ship was just after the Battle of Kakanilua, the battle in which the young chiefs of the Pi‘ipi‘i and the ‘Ālapa armies were slain, as described in earlier issues of this story. This also is the word of mouth account by certain older people of Hawai‘i Nei.


Four days after that Battle of Kakanilua, and after Kahekili and Kalani‘ōpu‘u had met, the people of the royal court moved to Lahaina. On a certain dark evening Kamehameha ordered his paddlers on board his swift canoe, and was joined by some chiefs and by Kekūhaupi‘o. They sailed outside of Honokowai at a place close to those Bays of Pi‘ilani. Kamehameha’s canoes met some fishermen a little off Honokowai, almost to Kahakuloa, and in asking for news were told of the capture of some white-skinned foreigners who were taken and killed at a place close to the heiau of Pu‘umaile at Waiakoa, and also at the land of Kula.


When Kamehameha heard this news from those people he determined to go and board the foreign ship, as it was seen by the light of their torches that the foreign ship had arrived at a place close to their canoes. Kamehameha had no inner doubts concerning this shocking news concerning the harm done to those white-skinned foreigners. He ordered his paddlers to approach close to the foreign ship. However, this order by Kamehameha frightened the chiefs who had accompanied him, who were Nu‘uanupā‘ahu, a chief from Ka‘ū, and Kaleimamahū, a pili koko [blood relative] of Kamehameha. The only one who was not afraid to follow Kamehameha was his guardian and instructor in warfare—of whom this story is told. He dared to follow in the tracks of his chiefly foster son, and when they came in contact with the ship Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o climbed on board with no doubts.


At this time Captain Cook noted Kamehameha’s warlike demeanor and that he was garbed in a feather cloak. The fearlessness of this red-skinned man caused admiration in the captain of that ship. He was invited to stay on board and to send his canoes ashore. Kamehameha sent his canoes and paddlers ashore, with those chiefs who had accompanied him, and on that evening the anchor was weighed and the ship sailed out to the open sea. On the dawn of that day, when the ship was not at the place at which it had previously arrived, the news spread that the young chief of royal blood had been taken by the foreign ship. This caused great lamentation amongst the chiefs, joined in by the chiefs of the land of Kahekili. On that day until the next, and on the second night that Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o had been on board the ship, Kamehameha was returned and he disembarked at Lahaina.


When the ship approached, Kalani‘ōpu‘u’s canoes sailed out to meet his keiki, and he met with Captain Cook on board the ship. When Kamehameha left on the canoe which had been sent to fetch him, he had been presented with a British officer’s coat, called, perhaps, in those times by the name of lole kopa. Kamehameha was also presented with a large sword and two old-fashioned pistols. Kekūhaupi‘o also was presented with a sword and some little folding knives, and gifts were also given Kamehameha’s canoe paddlers. In the minds of the Hawaiians these gifts were very important. Kamehameha was garbed in that red coat and the large sword was girded on at his thigh. When he landed Kahekili’s court saw the young chief with the garment and weapons of the foreigner. Kahekili uttered an elegy with these words of affection for the fearlessness of the young chief because of his having slept on board the foreign ship. These were the words of prophecy by the tattooed king of Maui:



“The ship has branded [marked] the warrior, hot is the eye in the sun at Puna

(Kukuni ke koa e ka moku, e wela ke kaula o ka maka i ka lā i Puna e a).

At the same time, King Kahekili shed tears of joy for the escape of the young chief from harm on this sea journey with these godlike strangers from a foreign land. He chanted these words for Kamehameha as follows:


He opeope kāu i kahi o Kalani A bundle that is hung is the heavenly one

He mau lani haele wale iho nō, Some heavenly ones who have gone,

I Mailewa‘a ē, to Mailewa‘a,

Ua noho a ea-ea i ka The odor of decay of the

Pela o Kāka‘e ē, flesh of Kāka‘e,

‘O Kalaninuimehamehaikekapu The great heavenly lonely one of the kapu

Nāna e kui ka Hono o nā Moku ē, He who shall join the bays of the islands,

‘Oe anei ā? Is it you?


When the chiefs of Kahekili’s court heard this chant by King Kahekili and saw his tears they understood the thought behind those words. They knew of the rumors being heard in those days that Kamehameha was the own son of the sacred high chief of Maui, and that perhaps Kahekili knew of his relationship to this imposing young chief of Hawai‘i Nui o Keawe.

Shortly after this time, Holo‘ae, Kalani‘ōpu‘u’s kahuna, hastened to ready the canoes and also spoke to the other chiefs of Hawai‘i about launching the canoes, because the ocean waves “slept.” But the real meaning of this was that there was peace at that time and the ruling chiefs of Hawai‘i and Maui had seen each other. Their minds were calm, and their agitation had been ended. Therefore this was an appropriate time for departure from Maui. That same day on which Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o left Captain Cook’s ship was the day of preparations for the departure of the fleet of King Kalani‘ōpu‘u and his chiefs and his remaining warriors who had survived the slaughter, and the chiefesses of his own court. They left the court of King Kahekili and returned to Hawai‘i, passing over the waves of ‘Alenuihāhā which pull two ways, until they landed at Kailua.


When Kalani‘ōpu‘u’s fleet landed at Keoneakeakua at Kailua, the people of the upland and the shore wailed and the sound of lamentation resounded, because the bones of the high-ranking ones had been left at the sand hills of Wailuku. The lamentations were bitter in the mind of Kalani‘ōpu‘u, and at this same time he determined to again stir up war against his brother-in-law, the king of Maui. It was said that he again went to battle with Kahekili of Maui, yet did not achieve victory, and Holo‘ae, Kekūhaupi‘o’s father-in-law, continued to say that the war god had deserted Kalani‘ōpu‘u because of his breaking of the agreement with Kahekili.



Training for Battle in Kohala


On the evening of the same day that Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o landed at Kailua, Kamehameha went in secret with the kahuna Holo‘ae and Kekūhaupi‘o to La‘aloa, a village close to Kahalu‘u. Living there was Kaukoko, who had instructed Kekūhaupi‘o in spear hurling, and the two of them had instructed Kukalohe, the son [husband] of Moana (w). This man who had taught Kekūhaupi‘o was extremely skilled in hurling the spear, and in some other martial arts of the ancient times in Hawai‘i Nei. That man, also, was one of the instructors of Eianinui [Elani], the father of Kahahana, the ruler of the famous island of Kākuhihewa [O‘ahu], and also was the one who instructed Kahahana in the “many pointed spear” which was the type of warfare which slaughtered the ‘Ālapa and Pi‘ipi‘i armies at the Battle of Kakanilua at Wailuku which became a battle bewailed by those who returned to the great island of Hawai‘i.


Kamehameha conferred with this instructor who had taught the use of the spear. Kamehameha and his former instructor greatly desired to learn this new method, and it was decided that they would return to the land of Hālawa in North Kohala where they would learn this new type of warfare.


Holo‘ae immediately advised his son-in-law not to delay their instruction in this new type of warfare, saying: “Here is the important work of the future; your chiefly lord is the one who will impose punishment on those Maui people and the blood of the people whose bones are laid in those sand hills of Wailuku will be avenged.”


When Kekūhaupi‘o heard his father-in-law’s advice he quickly turned and spoke to his chiefly foster son, his pupil whom he had taught to thrust the spear.

Ea, e Kalani ē, perhaps the heavenly one should bestir himself for the journey to learn warfare. When the imu is hot is the time to bake the food. Here is our instructor in the many-pointed spear, who will also teach you the hu ua ma‘a [sling]. When we are prepared the day of battle will arrive and, following the guidance of the war god of your ancestors, then we shall surf on the long wave. On this very night, heavenly one, we shall proceed, returning to the land of your birth, nor will there be any suspicion about our journey in the night.


Kekūhaupi‘o’s words seemed good to Kamehameha and they began the journey to Kohala on that night, accompanied by Kaukoko, the instructor in fighting with the staff and who was greatly skilled in thrusting the many-pointed spear.


Kamehameha left word with Holo‘ae to inform his makua kāne mō‘ī that he was returning to his birthplace, to the land which had been given him, to see his people and to prepare them for the great work which Kalani‘ōpu‘u desired in the future.


Kamehameha’s great double canoe and his paddlers were ready, and on this night he boarded, followed by his instructor, Kekūhaupi‘o. In the morning they arrived at a place called Kukuipahu, a place, perhaps, at North Kohala, a canoe landing for the chiefs of ancient times. They paddled, assisted by the sail, and the early morning landing of this chiefly canoe caused a sensation to the people of that proud land. The shore was filled with the people of Kamehameha’s land when it was heard that this was the canoe of their beloved chief. The people wailed in greeting, but also because of the disappearance of some chiefly descendants of Kohala who had left their bones in the unfamiliar land of Maui.


During this stay Kamehameha learned the method of fighting with the many-pointed spear, and Kekūhaupi‘o learned with him, and it was said that in their instruction by Kaukoko, Kekūhaupi‘o’s progress was greater, but he thought it was not well for his chief to fall behind him. However, when Kamehameha recognized Kekūhaupi‘o’s progress, and that Kekūhaupi‘o was slackening his efforts, he said to him:


Ea, it is not good for you to slacken in learning this type of fighting, because your preparedness in this new type of fighting is for our benefit. I will not lack for your instruction in this new knowledge, if my readiness is not comparable with yours. You must try in every way to gain this knowledge.


This exhibited the broad-mindedness of this famous kingdom conqueror of Hawai‘i Nei—he understood that if Kekūhaupi‘o was truly prepared it would be a benefit to him also. It is true that Kamehameha thought thus, and in the time when the dispute grew between him and his hoahānau, Chief Kīwala‘ō, and “the umbilical cord of the hoahānau was cut,” Kekūhaupi‘o, this famous warrior of Ke‘ei o lalo lilo ē demonstrated his remarkable abilities. When we come to the famous Battle of Moku‘ōhai we shall understand the genuine fearlessness of this famous warrior of the time of Kamehameha, the warrior who, for his ‘ailolo ceremony ate the eye of the niuhi shark of the wide ocean. Kekūhaupi‘o stayed some days at Kohala until the lessons of this new type of fighting of the O‘ahu people became thoroughly familiar to him. His chiefly foster son also understood the many-pointed spear, and its use previously mentioned, in which it was whirled like a water wheel in the wind.


When Kekūhaupi‘o had returned from Maui with his foster son he had not gone to his birthplace to see his parents although his family longed to see him. This was because affection for his chief was greater than that for his family. This took precedence in the minds of the ancestors of this Hawaiian race in those ancient times. However, after the passage of several anahulu periods in the proud land of North Kohala, Kekūhaupi‘o thought of returning to his own place at Ke‘ei, Nāpo‘opo‘o, and he spoke to his chief:

E Kalani ē, there is love for my precious parents and the family. Whereas we have our teacher who is instructing us in new ways so that the skin may not be injured by the barbed spear, I shall leave our teacher to you, O heavenly one. If this thought of mine is agreeable to you, my lord, I shall return to see the faces of the parents.


In the mind of Kamehameha this was appropriate and he graciously granted permission for Kekūhaupi‘o to return to the land of his birth at Ke‘ei. Kamehameha stayed to learn these new martial arts and to perfect himself in them.


The strange thing about this royal chief was that when Kekūhaupi‘o left for Kona, Kamehameha began to amuse himself with surfing, and lele kawa and also engaged in the favorite occupation of the chiefs [a sly reference to love-making]. He slackened off in learning the uses of the spear, and Kaukoko was unable to call this high chief to his lessons. Kamehameha became totally engaged in pleasures, followed by his people. These became days of pleasure also for the commoners who dwelt with him in the land of Kohala.


A certain man from Kohala arrived at Ke‘ei, and on meeting Kekūhaupi‘o was questioned as to his lord, Chief Kamehameha. The man replied frankly:


When you left your chief, he engaged in the pleasures of surfing and lele kawa, and also in the “famous favorite occupation of our chiefs,” and when he began to engage in these pleasures he was followed by his common people. Pleasure is the work at Kohala these days, and the farms are abandoned and weeds growing in them. If the young chief continues thus, famine will come to the land and to us.



Kekūhaupi‘o Rebukes Kamehameha and Prepares for War


When Kekūhaupi‘o heard those words from that Kohala man, he immediately prepared to leave his family in Ke‘ei and go to Kohala, since he cherished his lord. When he arrived in Kohala he went to Kamehameha’s house and inquired for him. He was told that the young chief and his companions in pleasure had gone to enjoy themselves with lele kawa and in surfing. When Kekūhaupi‘o heard these words from some of Kamehameha’s men he sought his foster son at the lele kawa place. When that young chief was informed that his instructor was seeking him he quickly left the leaping place. He joined his instructor, who, without delay or uncertainty, spoke: “E Kalani ē, cease your activity, my lord. This is not the activity which will gain you the island. Return to your war maneuvers, care for the little man and the big man, for this that you are now doing has no future, my lord.”


When Kamehameha heard these words of advice, he was embarrassed because of giving over to pleasure. He good-naturedly agreed and returned with Kekūhaupi‘o to his house at Hālawa. This shows the importance Kamehameha placed on the advice of this famous warrior of Ke‘ei o lalo lilo ē. Those good words by Kekūhaupi‘o did not cause anger in Kamehameha, although Kekūhaupi‘o might have been thought somewhat disrespectful in his speech. It is truly understood that Kamehameha’s heedfulness was the basis of his future victories when this archipelago became united under his rule.


In those days when Kekūhaupi‘o was staying at Kohala he began to build up Kamehameha’s various armies, arranged as follows:


Class 1. The warriors called Ka Haunaele [Hunalele] were under Kalawa, a lesser chief of Hālawa in Kohala, and he was the general

(māmakakaua ali‘i koa)20 of this army.

Class 2. Huelokū. Puniawa was the general of this army and he was an extremely proficient warrior.

Class 3. Ona Hema, the people extremely proficient in whirling spears, and in hand-to-hand [combat]. Honoli‘i was appointed as general for them; he was a famous warrior of Makalawena, North Kona.

Class 4. Ihe Mākini, led by Kukalohe as general. He was also one of the skilled students of Kuakoko and he also was from La‘aloa, North Kona.


The total of these combined armies was four lau by Hawaiian counting, or sixteen hundred by present-day counting. These were skilled warriors who had been well trained. Kekūhaupi‘o stayed with Kamehameha and assisted in the preparation of these warriors. The disposition of these various armies was under his control. They were the foundation of Kamehameha’s future victory, under the instructor of his youth, who was Kekūhaupi‘o the famous warrior of Ke‘ei o lalo lilo ē. After the passage of seven anahulu periods during which time Kamehameha arranged his battle divisions, he asked Kekūhaupi‘o to accompany him to Hilo Palikū, and this seemed good to Kekūhaupi‘o. Chief Kamehameha’s great canoe was prepared and he took his warriors with him, a very wise act, because during this journey they were attacked by some Maui people.


20 Māmakakaua literally means company of warriors, but in this case the writer adds the phrase “ali‘i koa,” meaning general. This was a great canoe which Kamehameha had prepared, and it carried almost two hundred men on one double canoe. There were also some swift sailing canoes, each canoe being able to carry fifty men with ease.


Kamehameha and his warriors left Kohala, followed by Kekūhaupi‘o and some warrior chiefs of Kohala. They sailed easily to land at Hakalau where Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o and their people were entertained by Chiefess Keakealani of Hilo; Princess Likoa; and Kahipa, the daughter of Chief Kānekoa of Hāmākua. She was living at Hakalau with her female hoahānau in those days. This visit by High Chief Kamehameha was a cause for joyous entertainment by these high chiefesses of Hilo and Hāmākua. The ali‘i ‘ai kalana of the Hilo districts in those days was Keawemauhili, a very high-ranking chief under the mō‘ī Kalani‘ōpu‘u, the ali‘i ‘ai moku. Keawemauhili’s status was held under his wife Ululani [Ululani-a-Moku] who possessed the naha kapu. She was the mother of Keaweokahikona and Kapi‘olani.


When Kamehameha arrived with his people at Hakalau, Kahāhāwai was staying in the upland forest of Hakalau, making a canoe for his lord, Kahekili of Maui. With him at that time was Kaihe, the “black [tattoo] of Kahekili,” one of Kahekili’s very great favorites, who was a famous warrior amongst Kahekili’s men.


The reason for the presence of this army of Kahekili in the upland forest of Hilo was the request by Kahekili to Keawemauhili, the Hilo chief, for permission for some of his people to sail to Hilo to make a canoe for him. The request was made at the time of the accord to end the war between Kalani‘ōpu‘u and Kahekili on Maui. It was a good time in the minds of both parties so Keawemauhili gave permission to this request by his high-born hoahānau of Maui. As explained previously, Chief Keawemauhili was at Ka‘ū when Kamehameha landed at Hakalau and was entertained by those chiefesses whose names have been mentioned.

Kahāhāwai was a famous warrior and of royal Maui blood, famous for some battles on Maui, and a numerous army had been sent under that favorite “black” man of Kahekili.

Kahāhāwai had stationed a spy at Hakalau to watch the activities of the Hawai‘i people. On that day that Kamehameha landed there the spy ran quickly to Kahāhāwai in the upland forest to tell him that Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o were at Hakalau. When Kahāhāwai heard this news from his spy he became very angry because at some battles on Maui Kamehameha and Kekūhaupi‘o had thwarted him. The landing by Kamehameha and his group at Hakalau caused suspicion that he had come to spy on Kahāhāwai’s activities in Hilo, or perhaps to waylay him in the Hilo forests. Therefore, Kahāhāwai quickly prepared to make a secret attack on Kamehameha.


While Kamehameha and his men were idling pleasurably at Hakalau, feasting on the delicacies prepared by the chiefesses, he received secret information about the Maui people saying that they were planning to attack him and his people. As the most favorite occupation of this Pai‘ea Kamehameha was warfare, he rejoiced in this news. He secretly called Kekūhaupi‘o and some of his officers and disclosed the news which had been told him. They began to discuss the means of meeting the enemy who were thinking of a night assault on them. Quick preparations were made to meet the enemy, and the army called Hunalele was readied. These were people very accomplished with slingstones, led by Kalawa the famous warrior of Hālawa at North Kohala. They were quickly sent to the stream, where it emerged at the sea, to gather hard stones to let fly when they met the enemy. At this time also the Huelokū were readied. They were very skillful at hurling spears and at seizing them and they were led by Puniawa, a famous warrior of Makahanaloa, close to Hakalau. He was a daring man accomplished in warfare. Kamehameha ordered the warriors of this division to follow quickly after the Hunalele after they had thrown their hard basaltic stones which made a cracking sound when they struck.


Fighting at Hakalau


When Kamehameha’s Hunalele warriors had prepared their slingstones they proceeded to the place where they would meet the Maui warriors led by that pā‘ele kū [black, referring to tattooing] warrior of the Bays of Pi‘ilani. The Maui warriors were sure that Kamehameha was not aware of their secret attack and they came down thinking that Kamehameha was taking his ease. However they met with something undreamed of: the hot stones of Kaueleau [unyielding forces]. Compare this saying with that discussed by Pukui (1983:141, #1278): “There is a rock at Kaueleau, Puna, Hawai‘i, called the ‘alapa‘a.” This saying can refer to an unyielding person.


When those Maui warriors emerged from the ‘ama‘uma‘u ferns they were startled to meet the Hawai‘i warriors. The stones from the slings of the Hunalele struck some of them, so that their bodies were left in the foreign land. However, Kaihe quickly called to his warriors and led them fearlessly to meet Kamehameha’s Hunalele army, who, not having spears in their hands, were unable to fight with those Maui people. At this time the warriors of the Huelokū, led by Puniawa, the famous warrior of Makahanaloa, met the Maui people face to face and a very strong battle between the two sides began.


Kamehameha’s army was very skilled at hurling spears and in warding off or seizing the spears of their enemy. They fought like hyenas, uttering their battle calls, and trampled the Maui people who had become victims of Kamehameha’s Hunalele warriors. The Maui people displayed their fearlessness and great cleverness as they were very skilled in that type of battle, learned from numerous encounters. This “black man” of Kahekili was incomparably skilled with his spear and was overwhelming Kamehameha’s warriors, as well as warding off with great skill the thrusts of his opponents, so that his followers were encouraged by his bravery.


Kamehameha’s searching eye noted the forward movement of that Maui warrior, who was causing death to his warriors of the Huelokū. He greatly desired to meet this famous man in person, but his way was barred by the war instructor of his youth, the one of whom this story is told.


E Kalani ē, perhaps you should not cause pain to the skin with that Maui warrior of low status—you do not lack for people on your side who have equal status with him. Therefore abide, and one of us shall place the punishment of death upon him. They shall not at all triumph on this day. They did wrong by attacking first and attempting to assault you, O heavenly one. Therefore leave it to us to punish this warrior who intruded wrongly.


As Kamehameha’s intention was blocked by these words of Kekūhaupi‘o, he turned and began to slay some others of the Maui people, leaving Kaihe for his instructor to fight. It was said that this battle in the vicinity of Hakalau showed the strength of Kamehameha, which so terrified the Maui people, that they fell back, behind that “black” Kaihe.


Now Kekūhaupi‘o moved toward this man who was killing Kamehameha’s warriors, and when they met face to face they eyed each other fearlessly in preparation for their fight. There was a little pause in the fighting between some of the warriors in order to watch the fight between these famous warriors. (In a certain previously published history of Kamehameha it was said that it was another lesser chief who killed Kaihe, the famous “black” of Kahekili, and that his name was Ho‘ohi‘olo‘olo, the son of Ho‘onohoka‘ie‘ie and her husband Kaukahiakua. However, the genuine truth was that Kekūhaupi‘o was the opponent of that “black” Kaihe of Maui. This was verified by Kekūhaupi‘o when he told the story to some of his family at Nāpo‘opo‘o. Perhaps that is the truth, for the most famous warrior on Kamehameha’s side was this man of Ke‘ei o lalo lilo.)


This “black” man of Kahekili was extremely proficient in whirling the spear, as described previously, and he had engaged victoriously in numerous battles. His opponent, who stood forth at this time, is known to us, O readers, for his proficiency, as a lesser chief instructed in the various martial arts of ancient Hawai‘i. His companions regarded him with pride, knowing that this “black” man of Kahekili would be unable to slap his head (ke pa‘i i kona po‘o).


Kekūhaupi‘o well understood the status of his opponent, and prepared himself accordingly. They immediately began telling of their sons (A ho‘omaka koke ihola no ka hō‘ike ‘ana o lāua i nā keiki kāne o lāua).22 It is true that Kahekili’s warrior was extremely well prepared and if Kahekili had been present on this battlefield he would have been stirred by the appearance of his favorite warrior. The eyes of Kamehameha and those of his battle companions were upon his instructor, because if he fell under the spear of Kahekili’s warrior then his ali‘i would be shamed, as well as his battle companions, and the Maui people would stand boasting. Kekūhaupi‘o gathered together all his skill, and both opponents well understood that death was the goal.


They maneuvered to gain the best situation from which to hurl their spears, each attempting to find the other’s weakness. For a short time they did this, then Kaihe was seen to whirl his spear, hurling it strongly at Kekūhaupi‘o thinking perhaps that Kekūhaupi‘o was unprepared. As the spear left the hand of Kaihe it was warded off by the spear in Kekūhaupi‘o’s hand, so that it fell uselessly. That first thrust by Kaihe was immediately followed by Kekūhaupi‘o’s spear hurled with great strength; however, it was dodged effortlessly and passed without harming that Maui warrior.


It was the custom in this type of fighting to have two spears in hand, the first to hurl at the enemy, the second to ward off the enemy’s weapon. When those two spears of those opponents missed equally, the persons close by this fight hastened to furnish each of them with another spear. Again they prepared to fight. Kaihe was seen whirling his spear like a windmill, and while he was doing this Kekūhaupi‘o observed the movement of his feet to understand his next action. Another reason for Kekūhaupi‘o’s staring at Kaihe’s feet was his thought of attempting to deceive Kaihe by making him think that he was going to thrust below the navel so that perhaps he would attempt to defend below, giving Kekūhaupi‘o the opportunity to aim his spear above the navel.


While Kekūhaupi‘o was staring at the movement of Kaihe’s feet, Kaihe hurled his spear, and Kekūhaupi‘o alertly seized it and hurled it back at his opponent. Kekūhaupi‘o had thought this movement of Kaihe would weaken his defensive stance, but with great alertness Kaihe warded off the spear and it struck quivering in the forest.

Kekūhaupi‘o Kills Kaihe and Kamehameha Recalled to Kohala


The din of battle was stilled on both sides and all eyes focused on these two daring ones of the battlefield. When the spear hurled by Kekūhaupi‘o had missed, the opponents again took up their stance, eyeing each other with fiery eyes, seeking any weakness, as well as a good opportunity to use their spears. We, O readers, are able to understand that Kekūhaupi‘o’s eyes were accustomed to assessing the conditions in a battle, for he had been the instructor of not only Kamehameha, but of some of the warriors under Kamehameha.


His opponent, Kaihe, was also accustomed to the battlefield, although he had not been an instructor and did not have the experience of assessing the students of warfare. However this did not lessen his preparedness as he had gained experience on many battlefields. While these two were resuming their stance the multitudes were unable to make a choice as to who was the more proficient, but soon we shall see, O reader of this story of the famous warrior of the era when the nation was conquered by that person later distinguished by the title Napoleon of the Pacific.


While these warriors were preparing themselves, Kekūhaupi‘o noted that his opponent was preparing to leap, and he perceived the means by which to deceive him. It was the custom of this famous “black” warrior to leap here and there. While they were staring, one at the other, Kekūhaupi‘o deceived his opponent by making a feint to the right of Kaihe, who believed that his opponent was hurling at his right side, and he leaped to the left, at which moment Kekūhaupi‘o hurled his spear straight to Kaihe’s belly, before he was able to leap again to the right. He received a direct thrust of the spear from the famous warrior of Ke‘ei o lalo lilo, and he fell, with his feet fluttering, as the spear had pierced him through to his back.


When the Maui warriors witnessed the death of their leader, fear of the Hawai‘i people overcame them and they began to run from the battlefield, pursued by the Hawai‘i warriors. The shouts of Kamehameha’s men were heard as they pursued Kahekili’s warriors. The words of encouragement from Kahāhāwai were not heeded by the Maui people, and he ran with his people, without seeking to fight with Kamehameha’s men. He was one of those whom Kekūhaupi‘o had greatly desired to meet on that day, but his wish was unfulfilled.


After the Maui people had fled into the forest of the Hilo districts,

Kamehameha’s people returned, and he conferred with his chiefs, also discussing what should be communicated to his uncle, Kalani‘ōpu‘u. At this same time when Kamehameha was fighting at Hakalau with the Maui people, Kalani‘ōpu‘u had arrived at North Kohala, desiring to see his keiki Kamehameha and to discuss with him the preparations to make war again on Kahekili. When, however, he arrived at Kohala he learned that Kamehameha was at Hilo. Kamehameha learned that his chiefly makua [uncle] was at Kohala with his retinue, and a swift messenger was sent to report to Kalani‘ōpu‘u concerning Kamehameha’s fight with the Maui people and that Kahāhāwai and his people had been put to flight.


On the arrival of the swift messenger before Kalani‘ōpu‘u and his retinue at Kohala, this news was much discussed by the high chiefs who supported Kalani‘ōpu‘u. The foremost, however, of the chiefs who spoke without reservation was Keawemauhili, the chief of Hilo, and the main subject of his conversation concerned Kamehameha’s actions. He was the chief who had spoken these portentous words at the time of the birth of Kamehameha at Kokoiki, North Kohala: “Pinch off the tip of the young mulberry shoot.” Because of these words by this high chief of Hilo, Kamehameha had been secretly taken by Nāihe [Nae‘ole] and reared in seclusion during the young days of Kamehameha’s life. On hearing of Kamehameha’s victory in this battle with the Maui people, Chief Keawemauhili sighed, and he said: “This is perhaps the bravery which shall achieve the conquest of the islands. Woe to us, his hulu mākua [esteemed elders], perhaps he will revenge himself upon us.” It is truly said that this young chief of Kohala was feared by the chiefs, who realized the arrival of a chief who would “slap them on their heads” in the time to come. The other chiefs who had not wanted Kamehameha truly said:


Indeed, your words at the time of this young chief’s birth were really correct, that this was the appropriate time to pinch the tip of the mulberry. Now at this time, the branch is hardened, and the tip of the mulberry cannot be pinched off. Alas for us in the future. Perhaps the bitter fruits of the actions of this young chief will come, for here in the dust of morning [youth] that one’s extraordinary deeds are already apparent.


This victorious fight by Kamehameha irritated some chiefs, and Kalani‘ōpu‘u heard this grumbling of the high chiefs of his court. His tears flowed for his nephew since Kalani‘ōpu‘u loved him with the true affection of an uncle, and he realized that the chiefs’ grumbling meant that Kamehameha’s life would not be peaceful in the future. He decided to send word to Kamehameha to return to Kohala to discuss some matters concerning him.

A messenger was sent to fetch the young chief who was commanded to return to meet with his uncle at the place which he had been given, the land of his birth at North Kohala. When the messenger arrived before Kamehameha and he heard the wish of his uncle, he immediately ordered his men to prepare for the return to Kohala as the ali‘i ‘ai moku Kalani‘ōpu‘u desired them to return quickly.


In a little while Kamehameha’s canoes floated in the sea and he turned back for North Kohala because of the command of his uncle. When Kamehameha and his people landed at Kohala and met with Kalani‘ōpu‘u, they wailed together in greeting. Kalani‘ōpu‘u spoke of his unforgettable love for the son of his younger brother who had been poisoned by Alapa‘inui.


The chiefs of Kalani‘ōpu‘u’s court saw this loving meeting of the young chief Kamehameha with his elder uncle Kalani‘ōpu‘u at the time they were all gathered in his presence, and it caused them perplexity. A conference was held pertaining to the young chief Kamehameha. At this time a certain chief whose name was Kaiokuakanele said these words before all the chiefs:


‘Auhea mai ‘oukou, O chiefs of Hawai‘i, and our heavenly lord Kalani‘ōpu‘u. I have a thought for you all to approve or to disapprove. Here is my thought. Call the famous kilo and kuhikuhipu‘uone of Hawai‘i Nei and all the kāhuna who investigate the condition of mankind to come and give their words of knowledge concerning the nature of this young chief. It would be appropriate for us to learn in advance what his actions will be concerning us in the future. His nature will be seen in advance by the clever seers of our land. This is for our benefit and we will be prepared with knowledge about him. How is this thought to you, O heavenly one, and the high chiefs of the land?


When King Kalani‘ōpu‘u and the other high chiefs of his court heard these words by Kaiokuakanaele [Kaiokuakanele], there was great speculation, and after some time of discussion they decided to agree with this chief. Then Kalani‘ōpu‘u commanded the kāhuna of the two classes, the kāhuna of the men’s class and the women’s class, to appear before his court and report on their knowledge concerning the young chief Kamehameha.



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