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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida

August 2008



In this issue of the NWHT, the mo‘olelo continues with Kamehameha’s actions to take political control of the islands.

Upon hearing the news about the Maui forces, Kamehameha decided to stop at Kawaihae in order to reorganize his warriors and wait for his forces traveling overland. When these forces arrived and had some time to rest, Kamehameha put his military strategy into action. With a force of five lau (or two thousand warriors,) Kamehameha waited until it was dark before any movement was made lest they be seen by the raiding Maui forces. Under the cover of darkness, Kamehameha commanded his warriors to follow his canoe without any loud talking nor lighting of any torches. Reaching a landing area near the Maui forces, Kamehameha and experienced warriors Kekūhaupi‘o and Ke‘eaumoku, led the army toward the uplands of Hālawa instead of along the seacoast of Kohala.

Photo by Roy Alameida
This is the birthplace of Kamehmeha I at `Upolu, the northern tip of Hawai`i island and closest to Maui. Mo`okini heiau is nearby.

As soon as they arrived in the uplands of Hālawa, Kamehameha and his warriors soon met some of the Maui forces in a tough battle in which the strength and energy of Kekūhaupi‘o was seen as he fought the enemy. The battle soon moved toward the shore of Hāpu‘u where the Maui Ali‘i Manonoikauakāpekulani was taken captive by Kamehameha’s warriors led by Ke‘eaumoku.

In this battle of Hāpu‘u, several incomparable actions were observed. The bravery of the Maui forces was noted as they stood fearlessly before Kamehameha’s warriors. Using the mākini or spear that was fastened at the end with a cord and whirled like a windmill stopped Kamehameha’s warriors from getting closer to the Maui warriors. However, Kekūhaupi‘o had seen this spear used in other battles with Maui and was taught a defense against this type of warfare. As the battle continued, the Maui forces retreated to the shore of Hāpu‘u. They began to realize that they were no match against Kekūhaupi‘o, Kamehameha and his warriors.

In addition, the cleverness and bravery of Kamehameha was observed by the Maui forces. Kamehameha had rubbed himself with coconut oil making his body slippery so he could not be seized. He also was able to ward off the mākini spear used by the Maui forces. He learned how to dodge this type of warfare from an earlier battle on Maui with his uncle Kalaniōpu‘u. His warrior training skills were also displayed before the Maui forces as he seized their hurling spears and hurled the spears back with brute strength that the terrified Maui forces began to retreat towards the shore of Hāpu‘u.

The battle which lasted for two days is significant because it showed the strength and defense of the Maui forces. However on the second day of the battle, the Maui Ali’i was taken captive, killed and placed on the lele or altar at the Mo‘okini heiau, a sacrificial temple, near the birthplace of Kamehameha. This ended any further pursuit against Kamehameha’s forces by the Maui warriors; they retreated and returned to Maui.

After the battle, Kamehameha and his forces remained in Kohala, near his birthplace, to rest and prepare for future battles. Kekūhaupi‘o was sent to Waimea by Kamehameha to gather and train young men in the ancient ways of preparing for battle. Under Kekūhaupi‘o’s instruction, the potential warriors were taught proficiency in whirling spears and in defending against the enemy’s spears. They were also trained in dodging the mākini spears used by the Maui forces. These young warriors became so skilled in dodging these spears that they felt confident in their position as warriors of the notable Hawai‘i island ali‘i, Kamehameha.

In the meantime, Kamehameha received word that Lononuiākea, the Ali‘i whom he had put in charge to watch over Laupāhoehoe, was brutally killed by supporters of Keawemauhili, ali‘i nui of Hilo, his uncle. Distraught over the death of his warrior, Kamehameha sent his runner Makoa to Laupāhoehoe with word that he is prepared for battle. The mo‘olelo continues in the next issue of NWHT.


Ua ‘Ike Anei ‘Oe… (Did you know that…)

  • Hāpu‘u is the name of an endemic tree fern common in the forests of Hawai‘i Island, such as at the Hawai‘i Volcano National Park.
  • Hālawa is also a place name on Moloka‘i and O‘ahu and literally means “curve.”
  • Many of the swift runners of Hawai‘i were of chiefly status, considered kapu or sacred and were protected from harm.

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