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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida

July 2005

 

In the last issue, the mo‘olelo ended with Kūkona as ali‘i nui of Kaua‘i. It was under his rule that a new political system was established which allowed Kaua‘i to prosper economically. We continue the mo‘olelo with Manokalanipō, son of Kūkona, inheriting the kingdom from his father.

 The years of destruction to the island’s resources were over. The lands were transformed to provide food and natural resources for survival. The island’s population increased. The warriors were trained as athletes rather than as soldiers. It was a time of rebuilding. It was a time of peace.

The lower portion of the Wailua River was the most desirable place on the island to live. The seat of government of Manokalanipō was established here. Wailuanuihō‘ano or “great sacred Wailua” was the name given to the northern portion of this expansive valley. This area extended inland for about three miles and two rivers emptied into the ocean. Today, the two rivers have joined into one.

Wailua offered many resources. There was an abundance of fresh water, and the ground was fertile to grow kalo (taro), ‘uala (sweet potato), and maia (banana). The kou tree provided shade, its trunk was used to carve bowls and other utensils. The niu (coconut) tree was a source of food, utensils, and fiber. The ocean offered fish and other seafood. It is no wonder that Wailua was the most fitting place to establish the capital of the island.

Wailuanuihō‘ano was reserved for the ali‘i of Kaua‘i. On the southern shore of the river was the heiau Hikinaakalā or “rising of the sun” and considered a pu‘uhonua or “place of refuge.” Warriors defeated in war or anyone who had broken a kapu (law) might flee from pursuers and enter this area where they were safe from any further pursuit. The entrance was always open and no pursuer could enter to capture the intended victim. The victim would give offerings to the gods and remain for a number of days and then was allowed to leave and be free from any further harassment. No one would dare touch the forgiven person, as that would have been a direct affront to the gods.

On the north side of the river are the birthstones where many of the chiefs of Kaua‘i were born. Holoholokū is the place name of the area and where the heiau is located. Within the heiau was the pōhaku hānau (birthstone). It was actually two rocks where the expectant mother sat on one rock and rested her back on the other. After the birth of the child, the piko or umbilical cord was carefully wrapped in ti leaf and wedged into a crevice of the pōhaku piko (navel rock) for safekeeping. The piko was a symbol of a connection to the past. It was believed that if the piko was eaten by a rat the child would grow up to be a thief, thus bringing disgrace to the family. If it was not eaten it was a favorable sign for the future ali‘i.

It was at Wailua during the reign of Manokalanipō that the religious and spiritual ceremonies continued. It was here at Wailua that the abundant resources provided for the well being of its inhabitants and the prosperity of the island.

Ua ‘Ike Anei ‘Oe…(Did you know that…)

  • Wailua (two waters) derives one of its meanings from the two rivers that join together a mile inland from the ocean. It could also refer to the “spirit of one seen before or after death.”
  • The Wailua River is the only navigable river in Hawai‘i.
  • Near the heiau Hikinaakalā there are large boulders frequently under water that have petroglyphs carved on them.

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