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John Papa ʻĪʻī

ʻĪʻī was born 1800, in the month of Hilinehu. He was born near the Hanaloa fishpond in Kūmelewai, Waipiʻo, ʻEwa, Oʻahu. His mother was Kalaikāne Wanaoʻa Pahulemu while he is considered to have two fathers (a tradition called poʻolua), either Kuaʻena Mālamaʻekeʻeke or Kaiwikokoʻole, although ʻĪʻī claimed the former as his father because he did not resemble Kaiwikokoʻole. His family belonged to the Luluka branch of the Luahine line, hereditary kahu (caretaker) to the chiefs of Hawaii.

ʻĪʻī was raised under the traditional kapu system and trained from childhood for a life of service to the high chiefs. At the age of ten he was taken to Honolulu by his uncle Papa ʻĪʻī, a kahu of Kamehameha I, to become a companion and personal attendant to Prince Liholiho, who became King Kamehameha II in 1819. ʻĪʻī was close to Liholiho during the young heir's instruction in the conduct of government and ancient religious rites.

John (Ioane) Kaneiakama Papa ‘Ī‘ī was a statesman and royal adviser, who served four consecutive monarchs, from Kamehameha I to Alexander Liholiho (Kamehameha IV). ‘Ī‘ī became one of the missionaries’ first students in Hawai‘i, studying with Asa and Lucy Thurston, and with Hiram Bingham.

‘Ī‘ī took a number of influential positions in government, and was appointed to the Board of Commissioners to Quiet Land Titles. Under Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III), the Board determined land-tenure claims during a period of changing views on land use and ownership. Papa was also trained in Lua by Napuauki, who was one of three olohe lua under Kamehameha. Kamehameha had established three pa lua in O'ahu. Napuaiki headed one of these schools. Napuauki trained twenty-four boys from Kamehameha's court, including Kekuaiwa, Kamehamehas son; Kekuanao'a and John papa 'I'I himself". In the Hawaiian Annual, an account describes the talent and skill of Papa 'I'I on the fourth anniversary of Restoration Day, July 21 1847. A large luau was held at Kamehameha III court residence of Kaniakapupu in Nuuanu and the entertainment for the evening was a sports exhibition consisting of a mock battle with spears. At the time Papa was forty seven years of age and one of the kings counselors. " He was tall cleaned limbed, and exceedingly lithe in all his movements, and it was a rare sight when he stood alone, unarmed, opposed to twenty spears men, each of whom endeavored to hit him. Dexterously catching the first spear that was darted, with this he successfully parried all the rest that seemed to come in a crowd and were aimed with furious force at all parts of his person. And when the missiles of his assailants had all ben exhausted, he in turn picked up their spears and darted them back at his opponents, driving them from the field, amid the wild applause of the native spectators. he later published a series of essays in the Hawaiian-language newspaper, Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, which were later translated and published as Fragments of Hawaiian History. ‘Ī‘ī died on May 2, 1870, in Honolulu.


Paglinawan, Richard

"Lua Art of The Hawaiian warrior"

Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, Hawaii 2006.

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