top of page



Kamehameha's Conquest of Maui and Oahu

At the death of Ka-hekili in 1793 Ka-ʻeo-ku-lani became ruling chief of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. Kiʻikiki' and Kai-ʻawa were his counselors, and they had chiefs and governors under them. He ruled a little over a year and showed kindness to the common people, but at the end of that time he grew homesick for his friends on Kauai and set out with his chiefs and warriors to return to his own people, stopping at Molokai to enjoy its fat fish and kukui-nut relish. Now Ka-lani-ku-pule and his younger brother Koa-lau-kani, heard that Ka-ʻeo-ku-lani was returning to Kauai. Not knowing what his plans might be they made preparations for war, digging trenches and throwing up earthworks at Kukui, Kalapueo, and Waimanalo [on Oahu]. At kukui a severe battle was fought in which one of the favorites, a war leader of Ka-lani-ku-pule, was shot by Mare Amara at the stream of Muliwaiolena as he stood with a feather cloak about his shoulders directing the battle with his hand. Two days and two nights Ka-ʻeo-ku-lani lay out at sea, then Ka-lani-ku-pule called off the righting and the two had a friendly meeting at Kalapawai in Kailua, Koʻolaupoko. It was a day of mingled joy and weeping—joy for the ending of war, weeping for the dead in battle and also for the death of Ka-hekili.*

A few days later Ka-ʻeo-kulani set out to return to Kauai by way of Waialua and thence to Waimea, where he discovered a conspiracy among Kai-ʻawa and some other chiefs and captains of his fleet to throw him overboard in mid-ocean. Thinking that death on the field of battle among many companions was better than to die alone, he had the canoes dismantled and proceeded to make war on Ka-lani-ku-pule, joined as he was by the warriors of Waialua and Waiʻanae. Ka-ʻeo's change of plan came to the ears of Ka-lani-ku-pule, and by November, 1794, both sides were ready to fight, and Ka-ʻeo won an easy victory over Ka-lani-ku-pule's forces. But during the early days of the war a couple of foreign ships entered the harbor of Kou at Honolulu, the first to enter that harbor. They were the Jackal and Prince Lee Boo, American [British] ships on an exploring expedition and equipped like

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, May 25, 1867.



men-of-war. Ka-lani-kupule at once engaged Captain Brown to aid him in this war in return for four hundred (a lau) hogs. A battle was fought on the plains of Puʻunahawele in which some foreigners were killed by Mare Amara. Natives also fell, and Ka-lani-ku-pule was forced to retreat. Some six days later another battle was fought in which Ka-ʻeo was again victorious. This gain he followed up by approaching further upon ʻEwa, hoping to push on to Waikiki which was at that time thecenterof government. On December 12, 1794, a great battle was fought on the ground of Ka-lani-manuia between Kalauao and ʻAiea in ʻEwa. The heights of Kuamoʻo, Kalauao, and ʻAiea were held by the right wing of Ka-lani-ku-pule's forces commanded by a warrior named Koa-lau-kani; the shore line of Malie [was held] by the left wing under the command of Ka-mohomoho; Ka-lani-ku-pule himself with the main army held the middle ground between ʻAiea and the taro patches; Captain Brown's men were in boats guarding the shoreline. Thus surrounded, Ka-ʻeo found his men fighting at close quarters and, cut off by Koa-lau-kani between Kalauao and Kuamoʻo, he was hemmed in on all sides and compelled to meet the onset, which moved like the ebb and flow of the tide. Shots from guns and cannon, thrusts of the sword and spear fell upon his helpers. Ka-ʻeo with six of his men escaped into a ravine below ʻAiea and might have disappeared there had not the red of his feather cloak been seen from the boats at sea and their shots drawn the attention of those on land. Hemmed in from above, he was killed fighting bravely. His wives were killed with him, and his chiefs and warriors. This war, called Kukiʻiahu, was fought from November 16 to December 12, 1794, at Kalauao in ʻEwa. At the death of Ka-ʻeo-ku-lani who was the son of Ke-kau-like and his wife Holau, his son George Ka-umu-aliʻi became ruling chief of Kauai; but, being too young to take charge of the government, his kahu administered it for him with power to make war.

On the afternoon [of the final day of victory for Ka-lani-ku-pule] the dead were gathered together, carried to Paʻaiau, and piled in a great heap. Among the bodies was that of Ka-hulu-nui-ka-ʻaumoku, a daughter of Ku-ʻohu, the leading kahuna of Kauai, who had fallen with Ka-ʻeo and the rest at Kukiʻiahu. Her body had been picked up for dead, carried with the others to Paʻaiau, and left in the heap of corpses. It was about one o'clock in the afternoon when she fell. At about ten o'clock that night she was aroused by an owl that flew over her and beat its wings on her head. She opened her eyes as from a deep sleep and found herself lying with the dead in a great heap. A guard was walking to and fro. The owl flew seaward and she followed, crawling,


until she reached the sea. Then she swam to the opposite shore in spite of her many wounds and landed at ʻAiea, where the owl led her up Halawa valley into the mountains. There she found a cave and fell as if dead. While she lay unconscious, the owl flew to a former kahu of hers who knew the country well around Halawa, and this person brought her food and anointed her wounds. Two days later Ka-lani-ku-pule proclaimed an amnesty giving life to the captives, on pain of death if anyone, commoner or chief, kept up the slaughter. Ka-hulu died in 1834. I have seen with my own eyes the scars of the wounds with which her body was covered. Thus God showed mercy to this woman until she heard the word of God and the Holy Trinity.

After the battle of Kukiʻiahu and the death of Ka-eo-ku-lani a quarrel arose with Captain Brown over the payment for the captain's help. Ka-lani-ku-pule offered to pay the four hundred hogs stipulated, but Captain Brown demanded further payment. The chiefs accordingly conspired to kill Captain Brown and his men. Ka-mohomoho advised Ka-lani-ku-pule to pay the whole number of hogs agreed upon, and when the white men asked how to salt down such a number to tell them that they might get all the salt they wanted from Ka-ʻihi-kapu, with the hope that Captain Brown would accompany the boats sent for salt, and the Oahu men might seize the ships and kill the white men. Ka-lani-ku-pule consented and the plan was put into execution. They delivered the whole number of hogs at once, enough to fill the two ships, and when the captain asked for salt they directed him to Ka-ʻihi-kapu. The tide was high when the boats came in; but when the boats loaded with salt attempted to return, the tide at Keʻehi was low, and the boats had to wait. The ships meanwhile lay in the harbor filled with chiefs and their men who killed Captain Brown and some others. Some of the white men who went after salt were killed, those few who remained alive were taken prisoners, and Ka-lani-ku-pule took possession of the two ships well-stocked as they were with weapons and ammunition.

Ka-lani-ku-pule now thought he might sail to Hawaii and make war on Kamehameha. Three weeks later he set sail with his chiefs, counselors, and warriors filling the two ships and a fleet of canoes besides. Ka-mohomoho advised him, "Place most of the foreigners in the canoes, keep only enough of them to navigate the ships." "No, no!" said Ka-lani-ku-pule. Again Ka-mohomoho advised, "Then place the arms in the canoes and leave only the large guns on the ships." Again Ka-lani-ku-pule refused. The ships sailed from Honolulu harbor on January 4, 1795, crowded with chiefs and warriors. On the morning


of January 5 all became so seasick that the boats were ordered back to Waikiki where they anchored. Ka-mohomoho said, "The white men are up to something. The reason we are all seasick is because of the stink pots of the white men that have such a bad odor!" and he repeated his advice to place either the foreigners or the weapons of war in the canoes. Ka-lani-ku-pule again refused, nor was this the last time that our chiefs have refused to obey sound advice. They refuse it even now, the historians say. On this occasion all the chiefs and their men went ashore, and no guards were set on the ships or over the canoes. Toward midnight the ship Prince Lee Boo was made ready to sail. Her men whistled to those on the Jackal, she too made ready, and they set sail with Ka-lani-ku-pule on board and his wife and a few attendants. At daybreak, when those on land looked to sea, the ships were gone. Strangely enough, off Lae-ʻahi [Diamond Head] the chief and his people were sent ashore in a canoe. The men on board did not take vengeance on the chief for the death of their fellows and the capture of the ships, but even waited until daylight and sent him ashore alive. They certainly showed a true Christian spirit. These ships belonged to the United States of America. They sailed to Hawaii and told Kamehameha what had happened, even handing over to him the munitions of war of the Oahuans. Hawaii owes these men a debt of gratitude. Had Ka-lani-ku-pule not lost these arms, Kamehameha might not have been successful in bringing the whole group under his rule.*

When Kamehameha heard the whole story from his two foreign friends Young and Davis, and how Ka-lani-ku-pule had started out to make war upon him, he believed in the power of his god and he said, "Say, Ku-kaʻili-moku, seize that island." He did not know of the true God Jehovah, who rules heaven and earth and was uniting the many small kingdoms into one so that war and slaughter and the pitiless burning of bodies in ovens might cease. In February, 1795, Kamehameha's fleet of war canoes landed at Lahaina, covering the sands along the coast from Launiupoko to Mala. All that part of Lahaina given over to food patches and cane fields was at that time overrun by the men from Hawaii. At Molokai, again, the whole coast from Kawela to Kalamaʻula was covered by canoes.

It is often said that in old times because of the wars when even the women were killed, [because] of the practice of infanticide, the slaughtering and assassination carried on at night, the throwing of men into hot ovens, the catching of men to use as shark bait, the lack of any place of safety for the weak, [because of all these things] death

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, June 1, 1867.


surrounded people on all sides; but nevertheless there seem to be fewer native people today than in those old days. Even after the tabus were abolished the land was well populated from Hawaii to Kauai with high chiefs, the favorites of chiefs, lesser chiefs, the children of chiefs, and commoners. The land was well filled with men, women, and children. It was a common thing to see old men and women of a hundred years and over, wrinkled and flabby-skinned, with eyelids hanging shut. One does not see such people today.

While Kamehameha remained on Molokai with his forces, awaiting a proper time to set sail for Oahu, he consulted with many of his counselors and orators and his secret advisers; but he never summoned Kaʻi-ana-Ka-ʻahu-ʻula to such councils, and this made Kaʻi-ana suspect that the counselors were plotting his death. These councils took place at Kaunakakai. Kaʻi-ana stayed at Kamiloloa . . . Kaʻi-ana told his younger brother, "I fear that the chiefs are conspiring to kill us." "What can we do to save ourselves?" asked Nahiolea. Kaʻi-ana answered, "We face death whether we follow Kamehameha or the sons of our older brother." His brother said, "You have given all your weapons to Kamehameha; how then can you follow our nephews?" Kaʻi-ana replied, "I was deceived by crafty words and had no idea he would do this." When the fleet left Molokai and was approaching the Kaiwi channel, Kaʻi-ana leaped into his wife's canoe and rubbed noses with her. "Why this kiss?" she asked. "I am leaving you to follow the sons of my older brother; but if I die, see that I am secretly buried." Ke-kupu-ohi said, "I will not follow you, for I must go with my chief, but if your side wins, find a secret place for my bones." After exchanging farewells the two parted, and Kaʻi-ana made his way to Koʻolau on Oahu and fought on the side of Ka-lani-ku-pule.

Kamehameha's fleet landed at Waikiki where it covered the beaches from Waiʻalae to Waikiki. Ka-lani-ku-pule and his chiefs were stationed at strategic points in Nuʻuanu at Kanoneakapueo, Kahapaʻakai, Luakaha, Kawananakoa, Kaukahoku, Kapaʻeli, Kaumuʻohena, and Puʻiwa, where the fighting began. At Laʻimi in Nuʻuanu Ka-lani-ku-pule's side was routed, and there Kaʻi-ana died. The chiefs and warriors of Ka-lani-ku-pule were slaughtered, but Koa-lau-kani escaped and fled to Kauai, and Ka-lani-ku-pule hid in the underbrush for a little over a year and then was captured mauka of Waipiʻo in ʻEwa and killed. His body was brought to Kamehameha and offered in sacrifice to his god, Ku-kaʻili-moku.

By the battle of Nuʻuanu, as this was called, Oahu, Molokai, and Lanai were taken; Kauai alone remained. Kamehameha now resolved


to carry the conquest to that island. Before setting out he declared a tabu on the heiau of his war god Ku-kaʻili-moku at ʻEwa, the heiau called Haʻena, and he made offerings and sacrificed human sacrifices for the freeing of the tabu. The fleet went on to Waiʻanae, and the war god was carried ashore that evening. Towards midnight they put out to sea, intending to land at daylight in Puna harbor on Kauai, but in the midst of the Kaʻieʻiewaho channel the advance canoes encountered the strong wind called Kulepe and were capsized. The canoes that went to their assistance were swamped, and all might have been wrecked on the coast of Kauai or carried out to sea by the current and lost had they not been near enough Waiʻanae to gain shelter. Because of this disastrous ending of the war expedition to Kauai, the whole fleet returned and remained on Oahu for over a year. This expedition was called Kaʻieʻiewaho.

Na-makeha' was a tabu chief of Maui. His mother was Kau-peka-moku, his father was Ka-nalu-i-hoʻae, also called Ke-kau-like. These people belonged to an order descended from Ka-ʻaka-lani who avoided the sun. They must have been an odd lot to make the sun their tabu and to belittle the sun placed by God over all living creatures on earth! While he was living in Ka-ʻu Na-makeha' had been sent for to accompany Kamehameha's expedition, but he had not responded. It was said this was because he felt ashamed to fight against Ka-lani-ku-pule, and he was led also by the counsel of Ka-lani-huia, a kahuna of Kiwalaʻo and Keoua. Na-makeha' now rebelled against the rule of Hawaii and began to feed the men of Ka-ʻu, Puna, and Hilo, in preparation for war against Kamehameha. When Kamehameha heard of this, he set out to return to Hawaii and selected to accompany him some of the lesser chiefs of Oahu and Maui, together with skillful orators and genealogists of those islands, of whom Kalai-ku-ahulu was one.* Kamehameha consulted these orators in regard to placing a chief over Oahu, but was advised as follows: "Do not appoint a chief over Oahu, for during your absence in Hawaii he would rebel against you. The best thing to do is to leave none but commoners on Oahu and take the young chiefs with you. We were able to win the island only because the foreigners carried off the munitions of war. Had the government been supplied with arms by other ships we could not have conquered it." Kamehameha therefore put his steward Ku-i-helani, in charge of Oahu, and Ka-lani-moku appointed his man Ka-Hanau-maikaʻi, to collect taxes. Ke-kua-manoha', although among those who fought for Ka-lani-ku-pule and plotted against Kamehameha, was left on Oahu

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, June 8, 1867.


because many of his relatives were among Kamehameha's followers. In September, 1796, Kamehameha returned to Hawaii to make war on Na-makeha' and his followers. The battle took place at Hilo. Na-makeha' was defeated, fled, and hid in the bush until he was captured. He was made a mock of by his enemies, and in January, 1797, with the consent of Kamehameha, he was offered in sacrifice to the gods in the heiau of Kaipalaoa in Piʻihonua, Hilo. Many had said that Na-makeha' would never be taken by Kamehameha because he was of higher blood, but it was the higher powers who decided which should become the greater of the two. This was the last of the battles fought by Kamehameha to unite the islands. He now had brought Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Oahu under one rule, with Kauai and Niihau under a different ruler.

In October, 1796, a ship [Arthur, under Henry Barber] went aground at Kalaeloa, Oahu. This ship had visited the island on several occasions during the rule of Ka-lani-ku-pule. This was the first time a foreign ship had grounded on these shores. Kamehameha was on Hawaii, but Young had remained on Oahu. All the men on the ship came ashore at night in their boats. At daylight when the ship was seen ashore Ku-i-helani placed a ban on the property of the ship and took care of the foreigners. Hawaiian divers recovered the valuables, and they were given over to the care of Ku-i-helani, but part were given by Captain Barber to the men who had recovered them.

Before the battle of Nuʻuanu there were living on Oahu with Ka-lani-ku-pule Mr. Oliver Holmes, Shomisona, Mr. Lele, Mr. Mela [Miller], Mr. Keaka-ʻeleʻele [Black Jack], and some other foreigners. When Kamehameha conquered the island, they all came over to his side. [After the battle of Nuʻuanu in 1796] Mr. Miller and Mr. Keaka built a red stone house for Ka-ʻahu-manu at Apukaiao in Paunau, Lahaina.*

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, June 15, 1867.


Reminiscences of Kamehameha

After the death of Na-makeha' there was peace from Hawaii to Kauai, and Kamehameha began to administer the kingdom for the good of chiefs and commoners. He made his uncles, Keawe-a-heulu, Keʻe-au-moku, Ka-meʻe-ia-moku, and Ka-manawa, who had aided him to secure the rule, his governors (kuhina) and gave them large tracts of land from Hawaii to Oahu in payment for their services; Kamehameha himself had no power to recover these lands. Ka-lani-moku he made commander-in-chief (pukaua) and chief treasurer (puʻuku nui) with the duty of dividing the lands to the chiefs and commoners, to all those who had used their strength for the victory of Kamehameha. By this appointment Kamehameha waived the privilege of giving anything away without the consent of the treasurer. Should that officer fail to confirm a gift it would not be binding. Kamehameha could not give any of the revenues of food or fish on his own account in the absence of this officer. If he were staying, not in Kailua but in Kawaihae or Honaunau, the treasurer had to be sent for, and only upon his arrival could things be given away to chiefs, lesser chiefs, soldiers, to the chief's men, or to any others. The laws determining life or death were in the hands of this treasurer; he had charge of everything. Kamehameha's brothers, the chiefs, the favorites, the lesser chiefs, the soldiers, and all who were fed by the chief, anyone to whom Kamehameha gave a gift, could secure it to himself only by informing the chief treasurer.

Kamehameha had a deliberative council consisting of his counselors and chiefs selected for the purpose, and these persons handled the affairs of government in matters of war or of the welfare of the people. He sought out men who had knowledge of old methods of warfare and made them members of his council; such men as Ka-ua-kahi-a-kaha-ola, Kai, Ka-palaoa, and Kaʻa-loa son of Ka-uhi. The kahuna and orator Kalai-ku-ahulu also became a member of the council. Kamehameha made laws to protect both chiefs and commoners, prohibiting murder, theft, wanton destruction of property, the taking of property without cause, robbing the weak, praying to death, and laws



to observe the tabus of the gods. He thus made it possible for "old men and women and children to sleep in safety by the wayside." He divided the warrior chiefs into companies according to certain classes and put every man into one of these classes: the Keawe, the Mahi, the I, the Ahu, the Palena, the Luahine, and the Paia. For young stranger chiefs he made three classes: the Okaka, the ʻAi-ʻohiʻa, and the Uouo.

He also regulated the fishermen. There were deep-sea nets for fishing (ʻaumaiewa), shallow-sea nets for fishing (laulele), nets for fishing by diving (ʻupena-luʻu), fishing by enticing into the net by means of a stick with a strong odor (lawaiʻa melomelo), aku trolling with mother-of-pearl hooks (lawaiʻa-hi-aku), ahi trolling with hook and line (hi-ahi), net fishing for flying fish (hano-malolo), trolling for kahala fish with hook and line (hi-kahala), and several other kinds. Mahi-luheluhe and I-ama he selected as head men over all the fishermen. He used himself to take part in the work, no matter what kind it was. He helped in preparing the fishing gear or in drawing the catch ashore, or he would go out himself to sea and take part in the labor. As soon as the catch was landed Ka-lani-moku would be sent for, and after the fish for the gods had been set aside, then would come the portion for the treasurer himself. After that the remainder was divided among Kamehameha and his wives and children, the chiefs, the king's housemates, the warrior chiefs, and all the rest. Ka-lani-moku was the highest official in the kingdom to the time of his death.

Kamehameha also selected workers in wood: makers of pololu, ihe, and laumeki spears, paddles, and canoe floats. He chose kahunas who were makers of double canoes (waʻa kaulua), war canoes (waʻa peleleu), single canoes (waʻa kaukahi), sailing canoes (waʻa kialoa)— either one-masted canoes (kiakahi) or two-masted (kialua); and kahunas who were makers of holua sleds and surf boards (papa heʻenalu). He appointed head men over these kinds of work. He also appointed kahunas as craftsmen to make wooden bowls (ipu laʻau), calabashes (ʻumeke), dishes (ipu kai), spittoons (ipu kuha), slop bowls (ipu hanowa), flat dishes (kalai pa), hand basins (pa waiholoi lima), face basins (holoi maka), bath basins (ipu ʻauʻau), vessels in which meat for shark bait was left to decompose (ipu kupalu mano), vessels for dyeing tapas (ipu hoʻoluʻu kapa), or skirts (ipu hoʻoluʻu pa-ʻu), containers for valuable possessions (ipuhokeo), for the shell fishhook (ipu pa-hi-aku), for a little shell fishhook (ipu makau ea), for human bones (ipu makau iwi kanaka), for medicinal clays (ipu kapuna), for offerings to the gods (ipu o Lono), cord holders (ipu


kuaʻaha), and for salt holders (ipu kuliʻu). Wai-pa' he appointed at the head of all these crafts.

Kamehameha selected strong paddlers to paddle canoes, and he set masters over them to navigate the canoes from Hawaii to Oahu and to carry orders from the chief to the governor of the island or to the head of a district, down to the smaller divisions of each district (ʻai-kalana, ʻai-ʻokana, ʻai-ahupuaʻa, ʻai-o-loko, ʻai-ʻili-kupono, ʻai-ʻili-ʻaina). Ke-paʻa-lani was Kamehameha's navigator, Keawe-opu' and Na-hili were his sailing masters, and he had a number of men who carried messages of good will to the different islands. He appointed commoners to the different land divisions to cultivate wauke, bananas, sugar cane, taro, sweet potatoes, and yams, to raise hogs and chickens, and fatten dogs. He selected people skilled in dyeing tapas, skirts, and loin cloths, also makers of olona twine, net makers, and catchers of the ʻoʻo and mamo birds. He had experts in the binding of feathers for the making of feather capes, cloaks, kahili, feather helmets, and feather leis.

Kamehameha had tax collectors who went out to ear-mark the hogs that were given him and to see that one-tenth of the taro patches, dry-land taro, and sweet-potato cultivations were marked by sticking up one end of a sugar cane stalk as a sign where his property ended. He appointed tax gatherers for large and small properties and tax assessors to fix the tax on large and small land divisions all over Hawaii to Oahu in proportion to the size of the lands, the larger lands paying larger taxes and the smaller lands smaller taxes. The payment of these taxes was made in tapasi, skirts, loin cloths, swine, dogs, chickens, mats, olona fiber, nets, fish lines, ʻoʻo and mamo feathers, and pearls from ʻEwa. These taxes were paid yearly and delivered at a place named by the king. On all the tracts of land in the different divisions certain days of the year were set aside as days of cultivation of food for the king, for his use and for that of the chiefs and people who lived with him. He placed restrictions on sea fisheries for periods of five months, and on the sixth month when the restriction was removed and fishing was allowed all over the land, the king and the commoners were usually the only ones to share the first day's catch, and the landlords and the commoners the second day's catch. After this the restrictions were removed, allowing all to fish for six months. At the end of this period restrictions were again placed over certain fish in order that they might increase. These restrictions were also extended to the deep-sea fishing grounds where the kahala were caught and the fish that go in schools, such as deep-sea squid, uhu, aku, and


flying fish. Expert fishermen were appointed to catch the smaller fish such as ʻaʻalaʻihi, maikoiko, kole, ʻupapalu, manini, ʻopule, ʻuʻu, and other such fish as served for the morning meal.

Kamehameha appointed men to serve under the different chiefs as stewards. There were several hundred of these, all well-educated for the position, alert and strong. He often summoned the chiefs to come and live with him, and he discouraged their living far away in the back country where they might gather men about them and some day take it into their heads to conspire against his rule. When he saw any chief collecting a number of retainers about him, he would summon the chief to him at Kawaihae or some such place; when the provisions ran short the hangers-on had to go back to the country, but the chief was always well provided with food, fish, tapa, and everything he needed for his own wants. Kamehameha was known as a good provider, because he supplied the wants of the chiefs high and low, of those who lived with him, and of those who had no master. He did this in order that the people might speak of his kindness and of the pains he took to care for the chiefs and people; the orators were instructed to speak of his kind acts.

Kamehameha took the children of commoners and trained them to be warriors or to learn other arts. He called these "adopted children" (hoʻokama), "friends" (aikane), "favorites" (punahele), or "companions" (hoa-ʻai). He had a large train of chiefs and people constantly with him, and for this reason his rule was very popular. He took men who were fast runners with Ke-kua-paniʻo at their head. These men were always ready to be ordered out. Ke-kua-paniʻo could run from Kawaihae to Waiakea, get fresh fish, and bring it back alive to Kawaihae all in one day. Ke-paʻa-lani was his swiftest paddler; he could go from Kawaihae to Lahaina and back again to Kawaihae in the same day. What wonderful endurance men had in the old days!

Kamehameha selected men to act as teachers in the arts of wrestling (kuʻialua), dodging the javelin (lonomakaihe), warding off the javelin (ʻoniu laʻau), boxing (mokomoko), hitting with the fist (kuʻikuʻi), fencing (káká laʻau) running chest up with a weight on the back (umauma), squatting and pushing (honuhonu), disc rolling (ulu maika), playing puhenehene, paheʻe, koi, turning somersaults (wala), turning somersaults backward (walakua), broad jump (pinao), leaping from a height (lele), reading signs and omens (kilokilo), pointing out locations (kuhibuhi puʻuone), the configurations of the earth (papa hulihonua), wound healing (lonopuʻhaʻ), and all the arts of the kahuna.


The kahunas who taught the art of healing wounds were selected by Kamehameha from the descendants of Milikoʻo, Puheke, and Palaha, who had been trained in the art of healing by Ka-maka-nui-ʻahaʻilono and Lono. One of these kahunas, Ku-aʻuaʻu, became Kamehameha's personal healer. Among other chiefs trained in the art of healing wounds were Ka-lani-moku and Boki Ka-maʻuleʻule. Others were educated in the art of healing chronic diseases. This is how these healers were trained: Pebbles were set in the shape of the human body. The different parts where diseases were located were marked off from the head to the feet, and the kind of disease and its symptoms were taught for each part. The healers learned to know which diseases were curable and which incurable. Then medicines were studied for each disease. When that had been learned the pupil felt over a real patient and studied his body.*

Kamehameha built heiaus for his gods. Ku-kaʻili-moku was a feather god whose feathers, it was said, had formerly grown on the foreheads of the great birds Halulu and Kiwaʻa. Ku-ke-oloʻewa, Ka-haka-iki, or Makuʻu† was a wooden god from a tree of Paliuli and wore a helmet on its head. Ku-hoʻone-nuʻu was another god made of the tree with beautiful flowers brought by Haumea from Ka-lewa-lani. It also bore the flowers, Kani-ka-wi' and Kani-ka-wa', and wore a feather helmet on its head formed out of the feathers of Halulu, Kiwaʻa, and Hiapo. These were gods who seized governments, and it was through them that Kamehameha became ruling chief over the islands. ʻOlopue, known also as Ka-papa-kahui, was a god that led spirits of other chiefs who were enemies into the heiaus where the spirits were sacrificed. Kameha-ʻikana, Haumea, Pele, Hoʻohoku, Walinuʻu, Kalamainuʻu, Kihawahine, and Hiʻiaka were female deities, and there were a great number of goddesses besides. Papa was the heiau of the female deities. Kane-i-kaulana-ʻula, Kane-mana-ia-paiʻea, Ka-huila-o-ka-lani, and Kapo were called Kalai-pahoa gods because they were carved (kalai) by the stone dagger (pahoa) [used] as an axe. They were gods who had much mana, and Kamehameha built for them the house called Hale-ʻili-maiʻa; if a person entered this house he would die; if a bird flew upon the roof it would die; if a rat, cockroach, or any other creature came into the house it would die. One creature alone could enter and live, the lizard called moʻokaula. Maʻalo and Moe-luhi were the kahu who had charge of these gods. Kane-ʻalai and Ke-liʻi-ku-ka-haoa were the kahunas who anointed and prayed to these gods, but they had no house set aside for them. Kamehameha built separate god houses for

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, June 15, 1867.

† Names for the one image.


the different gods and appointed the kahu of the gods to be with their god within the separate god houses and heiaus. Ka-puni was one god; Ka-ʻohu-walu, Ka-ʻakau, Oulu, and Hiapo were flying gods [gods of sorcery]. Kamehameha had many such gods. One of his gods was a real man; Ka-hoʻaliʻi was his name, and he had tabus, tabu drums, and tabu flags. The white kaʻupu bird and the eyeballs of men were the tabu laws of this god. His favorite food was the eye of a man. This god was allowed free eating with the chiefesses. Kamehameha established as heiaus for the sacrifice of human beings to his blood-thirsty gods Puʻukohola' and Mailekini at Kawaihae; Keiki-puʻipuʻi and ʻAhuʻena at Kailua; Hikiau at Kealakekua; Kama-i-keʻe-ku' and ʻOhiʻa-mukumuku at Kahaluʻu; Hale-o-Keawe and the Puʻuhonua at Honaunau; and so on all about Hawaii. When Vancouver saw how religious Kamehameha was and how he worshiped in the god house and heiaus morning and evening he said, "You are a religious chief, Kamehameha, and you worship wooden images. These are not true gods; the true God is in heaven. If you wish, when I return to England I will ask King George to send you kahunas who will tell you of the true God who is in heaven and you will believe them." Kamehameha answered, "These are my gods, they are gods with mana; through them I gained control of the government and became supreme chief." It was perhaps because Vancouver saw how devoted Kamehameha was to his gods that missionaries were not sent here from Great Britain.

Kamehameha established yearly feasts as a time of rest from labor when men might regain their strength. At the close of the ninth month of each year a tabu was placed upon the eating of the flesh of animals or of coconuts, and at the close of the year a pig was placed on the altar (lele), coconuts were opened, and a feast was held lasting seven days during which time food was prepared for the occasion. It was at this time that the game god was carried around. This god was the god of ... all sorts of athletic exercises. Food was supplied by the government out of that collected by the landlords of every district during the working days set aside for the ruling chief, and given over at once to the people for the festivities. As the god, Kapala-ʻalaea, and the goddess, Kiha-wahine, were borne along, the side toward the sea was tabu and the side toward the mountain was free. Anyone who broke the tabu by going on the tabu side paid a fine, but if he saw the deity and prostrated himself he saved himself from the penalty. The gods of the festival were Ka-puni, Oulu, Ka-ʻohu-malu, Lono, Kahoʻaliʻi, and others. A kaʻupu bird was mounted on a stick and borne along like a banner. Lono was fastened to a long pole and so were


Ka-puni and the other gods of the festival, and they were carried by bearers from one end of a land division (ahupuaʻa, ʻokana, moku) to the other. Then they were set up and the people within that division gave contributions of whatever property they could. If the contributions were generous, of good quality, and such as the keepers of the gods approved, then the gods were let down, and the gifts given over to the kahu of the gods. The rest was given to all the people. Men said, "Our needs will be supplied if we live under this chief; here is food, fish, tapa, loin cloths, skirts, mats, olona fiber, nets, and feathers, all to be had in one day." If any district did not contribute properly on any occasion, the gods would complain. They were not laid down, and the end of it was that the section, whatever it was, was given over to be plundered. But the trick was to watch the gods, for if they were held slantwise, the plunderer must run for his life, for the gods had laid by their protecting mana over the plunderer, and the owners might recover their stolen property. The long god was carried about for fifteen days, when he met the short god. They were rolled up and taken back with the other gods to where the ruling chief was, and all were placed in the god houses and heiaus, and it again became tabu for men to see them. The gods were tabu objects to the common people; only the kahunas, the keepers of the gods, and the attendants at the god houses were allowed to see them. The chief also might look upon them whenever he wished to go with the keepers to worship in the heiau and the god houses, or the ʻili-maiʻa house, the ʻauhau maʻule house, or the ʻalaneo house where men go to pray for healing. These places were so tabu that not even the favorites of the chief might enter, only the chief himself.

Kamehameha always listened to the advice of orators, diviners, kahunas, and men of skill. If he thought the advice was for the good of the ruling chief and the people he would carry it into execution immediately, but if he thought it was not for their good he would not heed it. That Kamehameha listened to the advice of others is the reason he became ruling chief. He was a patient chief and did not instantly avenge an injury. Here is an example of his leniency toward one who had injured him. At the time when he became ruling chief over all Hawaii, there were brought to him those men who had struck him with a paddle, together with their wives and children. All the chiefs said, "Let them be stoned to death!" Kamehameha replied, "The law of the broken paddle is declared: no chief or officer of execution is to take their lives. It is I who should by right be stoned." What a wonderful thing for a chief thus to mete out justice toward those who had injured him!


Kamehameha was watchful against conspirators and those who plotted at night against his rule. Did such plotters go undiscovered? After the battle of Nuʻuanu certain treacherous chiefs, Ke-kua-manoha' and Ka-uhi-wawae-ono, were suspected of plotting to kill him. They were living at Puʻuloa in ʻEwa. Kamehameha went there at night from Honolulu and overheard clearly the whole plot. Then he stuck his dagger, called Kauwa, into the ground [as a sign that none were to leave the house until he sent for them]. In the morning they saw it and knew that Kamehameha had been there and discovered their conspiracy. They were taken to Honolulu and treated with tolerance.

Kamehameha loved pious people. While he and his chiefs were living at Kawaihae, Kamehameha and Hoʻomakaukau went out one night to spy. At midnight an old man rose up to pound ʻawa. Hearing the pounding, the chief and his companion came up close to the house. After pounding away for some time on some scraps of ʻawa, the old man strained the ʻawa and poured it into the cup. Then he prayed for the preservation of all the chiefs, and after that he prayed for the preservation of all the chiefesses, then for the life of Kamehameha, saying, "Let Kamehameha, the good king, live to be old, until his eyebrows are wrinkled like a rat's, his skin parched like the dry hala leaf, until he lies helpless, so let him live, O god, and let me live also." The old man drank the ʻawa. At the end of the prayer Kamehameha asked, "Is all your ʻawa gone?" The old man answered, "The ʻawa is gone. I have only scraps left. Last evening I gave most of it to the god, and since I could not sleep I awoke and pounded a little and drank it without any food (pupu) to eat after it." Kamehameha said, "I have a little ʻawa; let my man bring you some." After they had gone away he said to his companion, "Bring him forty ʻawa stocks (puʻawa), twenty bundles of paʻiʻai (holoʻai), five tuna fish (ahi) forty aku fish, forty mamaki tapas, and twenty heavy loin cloths (malo uaua)." When the things were given to the old man he said, "It must have been Kamehameha and his man who came here last night!"*

At another time Kamehameha saw an old man with his grandson on his way home across the plain of Kawaihae. He was gasping under a heavy load of ti root. Pitying him, Kamehameha drew near to help him. When the load was taken from him the old man, supposing Kamehameha to be a robber, exclaimed "What are you doing! These plains are under the tabu of Paiʻea†" "Is Paiʻea then a good chief?" "Yes, Paiʻea is a good chief. He makes the old man and the old

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, July 6, 1867.

† Paiʻea, Hard-shelled-crab, was one of Kamehameha's names.


woman to sleep [without fear] by the roadside. He is a good chief; it is his favorites who are bad and rob others." "Bad indeed!" said Kamehameha, and he carried the old man's load until they came to the beach close to Kawaihae. Then he said, "If some men overtake you, do not tell them that I carried your load for you thus far." Some time later the old man was overtaken by Kamehameha's favorites who asked him, "Have you seen the chief, Kamehameha?" The old man was terrified, believing he would die for letting the chief carry his load; but Kamehameha was a kindly chief and a patient one.

While Kamehameha was living with the chiefs at Waimea [he was] engaged in restoring the old heiaus. When the fence of images (paehumu), the oracle tower (anuʻunuʻu), and the pavement (Kipapa) of the heiau of Uli had been restored, all the people had to go down to Puako after coconuts. When each had taken up his load to return there remained still 480 nuts unhusked. All had gone except Kamehameha and one other to whom the chief was unknown. Kamehameha turned to him and said, "It looks as if there would not be enough coconuts for the dedication in the morning." It is possible that the man recognized the chief for he replied, "They will all be there." The two put the nuts into nets and fastened them together into a huge load that stood taller than either of them. The road from Puako to Waimea is close to twenty miles in length. Occasionally when the man seemed tired Kamehameha took a turn at the load. At dusk as they neared their destination, and it came time for evening prayer, Kamehameha left the man, saying, "When you get to the heiau spend the night with the people of the place, but do not tell them that Kamehameha helped carry the load on his back." Because of this feat of strength and another later, when he took up two hogs each more than a fathom long and carried them without help, this Ku-i-helani, as his name was, became a great favorite with the chief and held an important office under him. He was allowed to have ten wives, an honor allowed to no other chief besides, and there was no home happier than his, no governor of a district to be compared with Ku-i-helani.

Kamehameha respected his wives and gave them wealth and honor.

He once gave a feast at Kailua in honor of Ka-ʻahu-manu, the wife he loved best of all, a feast which was the talk of the time. Many beautiful ornamental objects were made for this feast, such as a huge kahili called Hawaiʻi-loa, and a feather lei of great value. Ka-ʻahu-manu was borne by the chiefs upon a litter resting upon long poles and spread with feather cloaks and cushions, fragrant with fine perfumes. Chiefs and chiefesses carried the hem of her tapa and pa-ʻu, splendidly


colored by the most skilled dyers. Ka-heihei-malie Ka-niu and Ka-haku-haʻakoi, the second and third in esteem of his wives, were also richly dressed and their rank shown by the kahili called Koaʻe-hulu-maʻemaʻe, which had formerly belonged to Ke-aka, the wife of Alapaʻi-nui, and had been passed down by her to her granddaughters as a sign of their rank and of their parents' affection. Next came the sacred child of Ka-lani-kau-i-ke-aouli [Kiwalaʻo] and Ke-kuʻi-apo-iwa, and her aunt, Pele-uli who was her personal attendant and the fifth of Kamehameha wives. When she appeared, the tabu chiefs from the whole group came carrying the kahili named ʻEleʻele-ua-lani-nui, rich and beautiful in color as the greenery of the forest. Beholders prostrated themselves before them because of the tabu. The daughters of the high chiefs and all the young chiefs acted as escort for the wives to do them honor. The celebration lasted several days, and much wealth was consumed to mark the era of peace begun by the rule of Kamehameha over the whole group from Hawaii to Oahu.

As governors over the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Molokai, Kamehameha appointed commoners lest a chief stir up rebellion. But later he made Ka-ʻahu-manu's brother, Ka-hekili Keʻe-au-moku, governor over Maui. Mokuhia was to have been appointed over Hawaii, but he was got rid of by a trick played upon Kane-i-halau by Ke-kua-wahine. [The two men plotted how to do away with Mokuhia.] Ke-kua said to Kane-i-halau, "I will engage Kamehameha in talk and you watch me. If I nod my head, he has consented to your putting Mokuhia to death and becoming yourself governor of Hawaii." The two then went into the presence of Kamehameha, and Kane-i-halau sat down at a distance where he could watch his friend, while Ke-kua pretended to be engaged in conversation with Kamehameha, who was really talking to someone else, while the mischief-maker nodded his head and pointed to the sky. Kamehameha nodded to the other man, and Ke-kua imitated his nod . . . Mokuhia was really killed by this means, but when Kamehameha heard of it he did not give the governorship of Hawaii to Kane-i-halau, but appointed John Young.

Another important event which occurred in the fourth year of Kamehameha's rule was the lava flow which started at Huʻehuʻe in North Kona and flowed to Mahaiʻula, Kaʻupulehua, and Kiholo. The people believed that this earth-consuming flame came because of Pele's desire for awa fish from the fish ponds of Kiholo and Kaʻupulehu and aku fish from Kaʻelehuluhulu; or because of her jealousy of Kamehameha's assuming wealth and honor for himself and giving her only those things which were worthless; or because of his refusing her the


tabu breadfruit of Kamehaʻikana which grew in the uplands of Huʻehuʻe where the flow started. Perhaps the people were all wrong, since the true God is in heaven and fills the heavens with wonders and the earth with all it contains. Kamehameha was in distress over the destruction of his land and the threatened wiping-out of his fish ponds. None of the kahunas, orators, or diviners were able to check the fire with all their skill. Everything they did was in vain. Kamehameha finally sent for Pele's seer (kaula), named Ka-maka-o-ke-akua,* and asked what he must do to appease her anger. "You must offer the proper sacrifices," said the seer. "Take and offer them." replied the chief. "Not so! Troubles and afflictions which befall the nation require that the ruling chief himself offer the propitiatory sacrifice, not a seer or a kahuna." "But I am afraid lest Pele kill me." "You will not be killed," the seer promised. Kamehameha made ready the sacrifice and set sail for Kekaha in Mahaiʻula.

When Ka-ʻahu-manu and Ka-heihei-malie heard that the chief was going to appease Pele they resolved to accompany him and if necessary die with him. Ulu-lani also went with them because some of the seers had said, "That consuming fire is a person; it is the child of Ulu-lani, Keawe-o-kahikona,† who has caused the flow," and she was sent for to accompany them to Kekaha.‡ Other chiefs also took the trip to see the flow extinguished. From Keahole Point the lava was to be seen flowing down like a river in a stream of fire extending from the northern edge of Hualalai westward straight toward Kaʻelehuluhulu and the sweet-tasting aku fish of Haleʻohiʻu. There was one stream whose flames shot up the highest and which was the most brilliant in the bubbling mass as it ran from place to place. "Who is that brightest flame?" asked Ulu-lani of the seer." "That is your son," he answered. Then Ulu-lani recited a love chant composed in honor of her firstborn child as his form seemed to stand before her:

O ka maka o kuʻu keiki ka The eyes of my son are like a

lamaku', burning torch,

Ke kukui monopu wela o hau- Glowing like the red-hot kukui

nonoli, nut,

Oia ka makamua o ke ahi ʻena- It is the first flame to be seen in

ʻena, the burning fire,

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, July 13, 1867.

† A chief had several names. This is the name of Ulu-lani's son used by people in general, while the name in the chant which follows was used only by members of the immediate family.

‡ John Wise (personal communication) says, "The Hawaiians believe that the fires of Pele are dead persons who have worshiped the goddess and become transformed into the likeness of her body."


Oia kai loko i ke ahi makukuku, It is there in the bubbling fire,

Kino kuku o Kanaloa-mahe-walu, The body of Kanaloa-mahe-walu

stands forth,

O ka moholi iki kaʻu e manaʻo iho, I suppress my cry of affection,

E manaʻo, ke aloha mai la ka ipo It overpowers me, my love, like

e. that of a lover.

The flow had been destroying houses, toppling over coconut trees, filling fish ponds, and causing devastation everywhere. Upon the arrival of Kamehameha and the seer and their offering of sacrifices and gifts, the flow ceased; the goddess had accepted the offering.

The reasons given for the flow may be summed up as: first, Pele's wanting the aku of Haleʻohiʻu and the ʻahi fish of Kiholo; second, her anger at being denied the breadfruit of Kamehaʻikana in upper Huʻehuʻe; third, her wrath because Kamehameha was devoting himself to Ka-heihei-malie and neglecting Ka-ʻahu-manu. It was said that Pele herself was seen in the body of a woman leading a procession composed of a multitude of goddesses in human form dancing the hula and chanting:

Lilo ka makou kane i ka haʻawe Our husband has gone to carry

ʻoloʻolo e the bigger load [Ka-heihei-


Haʻalele ia ka haʻawe leilei e While the lighter load [Ka-ʻahu-

leilei e. manu] is neglected.*

* Ka Nupepa Kuʻokoʻa, July 20, 1867.

27 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page