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Pe'ape'a Makawalu

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Fornander Collection of Hawaiian Folk-lore.

Story of Peapea.

Peapea, Famed Warrior.‒His Battle and Victory Over Kahahana’s Forces.‒ Kekuapoi of Rare Beauty.‒Peapea's Display of Courage.

HE [PEAPEA]1 is a very widely known warrior even to this day, for his fame spread over all these islands. He was the son of Kahekilinui,2 the king of Maui, in consequence of which, Peapea was really a high chief. Peapea could seize and crush two, three, and even a greater number of men. They were trifles3 to him. While Kahahana, a king of the whole of Oahu here, was ruling, he ceded this island to Kahekili, the king of Maui, but afterwards rebelled and ignored that cession. Because of this renunciation by Kahahana, the report of which reached Kahekili, therefore, Kahekili sailed here with his war fleet and landed at Waikiki. He dispatched a messenger to summon Kahahana to come before him to consult4 relative to the truth or falsity of the rumor. The place where Kahahana was residing was at Kaneohe, in Koolaupoko. When the messenger appeared before him, he delivered Kahekili’s order. Kahahana on hearing this message questioned5 his priests: “How are these words of the king?” The priests answered: “O king! It is not wise that you comply and restore the land to him, because you are well prepared at this time; you have nothing lacking.6 Therefore, let there be strife and by the point of the spear and javelin will be decided your victory or your dispossession.” When Kahahana heard these words of his priests, he was resolved to battle and to refuse the demands of Kahekili. Two days had elapsed following the return of the courier that had been sent by Kahekili to Kahahana, when the report was made that war was the only alternative; then, battle preparations were made. These arrangements were made at Waikiki-kai. When the curtains of dawn parted, the ranks commenced to march up to Nuuanu. Whilst they were ascending, the rumor reached Peapea in the upland of Manoa, where he was residing, in the woman’s house. These were the words reported to him: “Say, Peapea! There is a struggle on the lowlands. When I left, the van was just beginning to move towards Kulaokahua.”7 Peapea inquired, “Whose is the battle?” The herald replied, “The battle is for Kahahana.” When Peapea heard this he left his wife and ran above Ualakaa,8 Makiki, Pauoa, and Kaheiki, which is adjacent to Maemae. There he met the van of the army of Kahekili. As to the forces of Kahahana, the main army was at Waolani;9 while the front was descending from Maemae. When Peapea arrived between Ka-hekili’s and Kahahana's warriors, he stood to defy10 [the advance].


As Peapea was standing between the Maui and Oahu ranks, he commenced to give battle. He pursued11 the numerous warriors of Kahahana, and when they were caught by him, they were crushed (breaking in his hands as a brittle twig by the destroyer, was his treatment of the men). Likewise were those on the right hand and on the left. Thus he pressed upward until he encountered the poe12 and they were standing in a circle. (The meaning of the word “poe”: a very great number of men, ranging from two laus to a mono, equivalent to eight hundred or more.) When Peapea approached the section of the army of Kahahana, Peapea rushed into their midst and was immediately surrounded by overwhelming numbers. Simultaneously, the javelins were cast, the long spear, the spike, the war club; the stone was hurled, the maa thrower cast his sling-shot, the club was struck; but they were as bathing water13 for Peapea, and they were as nothing to his powerful strength. Thus he went slaughtering until reaching Luakaha, in Nuuanu. Kahahana and his chiefs were defeated and fled, the majority having been all slain by Peapea. Oahu being conquered by Kahekili, Peapea took Kekuapoi.,14 Kahahana’s wife, as his own, on account of his courage and strength, and [they] lived together.


Kekuapoi15 was highly reputed as an excellent woman with a beautiful countenance to behold, and she was faultless. It is narrated in the story of this battle, that she was the superior of Oahu here and of the other islands. On the death of her husband, Kahahana, Kahekili had determined to take Kekuapoi as his wife, but, she became his son’s, Peapea’s. At this seizure by Peapea of Kekuapoi as his wife, Kahekili was greatly angered. Hence, he dispatched a courier to fetch Kekuapoi to him, but, she was not relinquished by Peapea. Many were the messengers Kahekili sent, but Kekuapoi never came, for she was withheld by Peapea. Wherefore, Kahekili16 again sent the messenger to summon Peapea and his wife to appear, and should they remain, then Peapea would be punished with death. The courier having arrived in the presence of Peapea so informed him. Peapea, hearing, responded.

peapea’s second display of courage.

Prior to the summoning of Peapea, his death-trap17 by men was laid out. Two boards had been arranged. It is said the length of the boards were forty fathoms, which occupied opposite sides of the path, whereby Peapea would come to the presence of Kahekili. All the men were equipped with javelins, war clubs, spear points, stones, and all death-dealing weapons. Whilst they were stationed behind the boards, Peapea approached between them. Immediately they cast all their javelins on Peapea, but they were trifles to him. Those death-dealing implements were his bathing water. However, as he journeyed18 towards Kahekili, there by his right hand was Kekuapoi held. He traveled in this manner into the presence of Kahekili. He had escaped death, but, he was wifeless, for Kahekili took her.

1 Known also as Peapea Makawalu, the latter appellation, eight-eyed, implied that he was all-seeing; wise.

2Kahekilinui, the great Kahekili, this is to distinguish between the two kings of Maui of that name, one, of about the close of the 14th century, the other, son of Kakae, the more famous son of Kekaulike, contemporary with Kaleiopuu and Kamehameha.

3Mea ole, mere trifles; they were as nothing.

4Kuka, consult; a conference of state.

5Ninau, questioned, or sought the advice of his priests.

(458)6The priests advising.non-compliance to the mandate based it on the ground that they thought Oahu able to maintain her rights. Aole ou hemahema, you are not destitute; you lack nothing.

7Kulaokahua, the level section between Waikiki and Punchbowl.

8Ualakaa, Roundtop, at entrance to Manoa valley. His course carried him by the mountain path at the head of the valleys from this point to Nuuanu, about Wyllie street.

9Waolani, the upper part and small valley above the Country Club, Nuuanu.

10Pani, in this case a hindrance to the army's advance; to stay the proceedings, there he stood, defiant.

11Hahai aku la; he gave chase. On catching Kaha-hanas men he crushed them (haihai‒i ka lima) in his hands.

12Poe, the company or large body of men; the main body of the army.

13Here again is the wai auau, or enjoyment of Peapea as if bathing.14On the principle “to the victor belongs the spoils,” Peapea claims the famously beautiful wife of Kahahana for himself.

15All traditions referring to Kekuapoi agree in loud praise of her rare beauty in face and form. Aohe ona lua. She had no second, i.e., there was none to compare with her.

16Kahekili is determined not to be robbed of his legitimate spoils of war, according to the usage of those times.

17Death trap, consisting of boards to shield his assaillants each side of his pathway, behind which they stood to cast their weapons at him. A sort of “run-a-muck” procedure.18Passing safely through their midst, and holding Kekuapoi by the right hand, they come into the king's presence

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