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Nuʻuanupaʻahu Chief of Kaʻu, Hawaiʻi

Photo: Kuʻialuaopuna

Ruling Chiefs of Hawaiʻi

Kamakau, Samuel Manaiakalani,

Copyright © 1961

Revised Edition Copyright © 1992

by Kamehameha Schools

Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, Feb. 9, 1867.

pgs. 105-107

After the death of Captain Cook and the departure of his ship, Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu moved to Kainaliu near Honuaʻino and, after some months, to Keauhou where he could surf in the waves of Kahaluʻu and Holualoa, and then to Kailua. He delighted in the hula dance. Everyone, young and old, even to the babies just able to walk, was summoned to dance before him. The most popular dances were the kalaʻau [danced to the beating of sticks one against the other], the alaʻapapa [similar to the modern olapa but with a different rhythm], and the dance of the marionettes (hula kiʻi). Both chiefs and commoners participated in the dances, Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu, over eighty years old as he was at the time, taking part. As he was dancing to the chant

Nuʻuanu popoʻi ka huna a ka ua.

Ku-ku' kaʻale a ka makani

Hololua, holopili, holokake,

I ke alo o ka pali ka makani

Nuʻuanu is drenched by the rain.

Great gusts of wind blow.

Back and forth, against the cliff in and out.

Blows the wind at the face of the cliff.

with the gathering of chiefs, lesser chiefs, warriors, notables, and commoners looking on, a chief named Ka-piʻipiʻi-lani, standing among the group of commoners remarked to one of them, "The hula is amusing enough except for that silly old man's dancing!" The man addressed answered, "Don't you know who the chief is?" "Who is he?" "That is Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu; you are a saucy upstart indeed not to know the chief!" His neighbor whispered, "Don't you know the man you are talking to is a chief? That is Ka-piʻipiʻi-lani. "Hush! don't let's get into a brawl."

While Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu was amusing himself with the pleasures of the dance, trouble came in the form of a famine in Kona. He ordered all the products of the cultivated areas to be seized, even those which were the people's property. The people wept bitterly over this seizure of their property, and life in Kona became so uncomfortable that the chief said to his household, "Let us make a circuit of the island, eat, waste, enjoy ourselves, dance and sleep or not as we please."

Perhaps Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu was by this time senile with age. At Kapaʻau in North Kohala he selected a place at Hinakahua for sports and games such as hula dancing, kilu spining, maika rolling, and sliding sticks. Meanwhile rebellion was brewing. It was I-maka-koloa, a chief of Puna, who rebelled, I-maka-koloa the choice young ʻawa [favorite son] of Puna. He seized the valuable products of his district, which consisted of hogs, gray tapa cloth (ʻeleuli), tapas made of mamaki bark, fine mats made of young pandanus blossoms (ʻahu hinalo), mats made of young pandanus leaves (ʻahuao), and feathers of the ʻoʻo and mamo birds of Puna.

Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu, chief of Ka-ʻu, was also in the plot to rebel, but he was at this time with Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu, and Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu feared Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu. Ka-lola in the meantime was with Kiwalaʻo on Maui. Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu ordered nets from Hilo and lines for albacore fishing (aho hi-ahi) from Puna and from Kalae in Ka-ʻu; and Ka-hekili and Ka-lola sent him a double canoe filled with small-meshed nets and fishlines. Because of his fear of Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu, Ka-lani-ʻopuʻu plotted with his false kahunas to be rid of him. The kahunas said, "Let Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu be devoured by a shark so that his kahunas may not have his remains to burn in vengeance." "Yes," assented the chief, "let him be swallowed by a shark so that his kahunas cannot avenge him. Let him be swallowed whole by the shark." The kahunas boasted, "O heavenly one, the shark is ready that is to devour him, Let all the chiefs go to Kauhola at Halaʻula to indulge in surfing, the favorite pastime of chiefs. Should the surfer from Kaʻwa' in Ka-ʻu join in the sport he will be swallowed by the shark. He will then not be able to rebel against the rule of your son, Kiwalaʻo." The chief agreed to this plan, and chiefs, guards, warriors, and all the members of the chief's household went to Kauhola, erected temporary shelters, and went surfing, but Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu could not be persuaded to join them. All the other chiefs and commoners went surfing, but he did not go with them.

One day when the waves of Maliu and Ka-pae-lauhala were rolling in magnificently, the cutworm-tearing son of Naʻalehu resolved to show the skill he had got through practice [in surfing] on the bent wave of Ka'wa', or diving headforemost into the waters of Unahea. He reached for his surfboard and went out to sea beyond Ka-pae-lauhala. He rode in on a wave and landed at Kinaina. Again he went out and, having set himself in the way of a good wave, rode once more to land. As the wave rolled landward, a shark came in with it. It came with open mouth that showed sharp, pointed teeth. Sea water poured between its teeth and through its gills; its skin seemed to bristle; dreadful indeed was the appearance of that rough-skinned one. Six fathoms was its length. Chiefs and commoners fled terrified to the shore, but Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu, the lad who had broken mamane branches at Kapapala and torn up koaiʻe vines at ʻOhaikea, did not lose courage. When he saw that the shark was pursuing him, he steered his board for the crest of the wave. The shark saw him on the crest and pursued him there. Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu fled with the speed of an arrow. The shark passed under and turned to slash; Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu struck out with his fists and hit it in the eye. The shark dived downward; Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu turned toward a low surf, and as he rode it the shark passed under him. Again it turned to bite; he sped on and the shark missed. He struck at the shark's gills, his hand found its way in, and he grasped the gills and jerked them out of its head. The shark, wounded, left him. Just as he was about to land, another shark that lurked near a stone appeared with open mouth. Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu struck out at it with his fists, hitting it back of the jaw. The shark turned and gashed him on one side of his buttocks. Then at last Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu reached shore. Chiefs and commoners shouted applause for his strength and congratulated him upon his escape from death. Sounds of wailing echoed and reeahoed. His kahunas meanwhile saw to the securing of the gills (pihapiha) of the shark and quickly began their prayers. The leaves of the trees went dry; there was no fish to be had. "Let these sharks die in a day," they prayed, "land on shore, be eaten by hogs and dogs, and their flesh stink in the sun." On that very day one shark came ashore at Naʻohaku, the other at Hapuʻu. But Nuʻu-anu-paʻahu lay suffering great pain until he died at Pololu', and there he was buried. The natives of that place will tell you something of this, but they will probably repeat only half the story.

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