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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida

March 2005

Part V: Pili


In the February issue, we read about Pā‘ao and the religious and political changes he brought to Hawai‘i. One of his followers, Pili, was put into power and ruled Kohala, leading eventually to Kamehameha I. In this issue, we look at the Pili line of rulers when power was consolidated and unified Hawai‘i island under one kingdom.

Following Pili’s reign (1320-1340), the oral history speaks little about the early rulers of the Pili genealogy. But, by the end of the 1500s, two prominent figures, Līloa and his son ‘Umi receive attention. Both are known to be the most famous of the early chiefs of the Pili line that ruled the entire island of Hawai ‘i.

Līloa, as the eldest son of Kihanuilūlūmoku, succeeded his father as ali‘i nui. It appears that Līloa frequently traveled around the kingdom to check on the activities of his people, both ali‘i and maka‘āinana (commoners). He was apparently highly successful in maintaining peace in the districts under his control. According to traditions, there were several ways of maintaining peace and political control. One way was through the religious system as a support base and rededicating many of the heiau (temple) throughout the kingdom.

One of the heiau rededicated was Paka‘alana in Waipi‘o Valley where Līloa held his court. This was not a new heiau but existed a century earlier during the time of Kila, son of Mo‘ikeha of Kaua‘i. This heiau was under the care of the kahuna of the Pā‘ao order, who also cared for Līloa’s war god, Kūkā‘ilimoku. New images, fence and house posts replaced the old. The heiau was used to offer prayers and thanks during the time of Kū, god of war, and Lonoikamakahiki, god of peace.

Another way of maintaining peace and consolidating power was through marriages. Līloa’s high-ranking wife, Pinea, was the younger sister of his mother from a line of chiefs on O‘ahu. With her, he had Hākau, a son and his heir. From another wife, Haua, a Maui chiefess, he had a daughter, Kapukini. Both these marriages established ties between high-ranking families outside the kingdom of Hawai ‘i island.

Līloa’s permanent royal court, Kahaunokama‘ahala, was located near the sand dunes along Wailoa stream of Waipi‘o Valley. The valley one of the most impressive places on Hawai‘i Island . Approaching from the Hāmākua side, one descends down the gradual slopes of the valley. The mouth of the valley opens with steep valley walls dropping some 1,000 feet to the flat valley floor. At the bottom the cliffs cut off the valley from outside that results in later sunrises and earlier sunsets. Even today, the quiet and the power of Waipi‘o Valley are overwhelming.

But the valley is not just cliffs. It is one of the largest valleys in the islands. Its mouth is lined with black sand and beach dunes. The main stream, Wailoa, empties into the open ocean. The valley floor is flat, wide and swampy, extending more than 2 miles inland. The tall and large falls of Hi ‘ilawe form an impressive background in the valley. The ahupua‘a of Waipi‘o include the valley itself and the uplands of Muliwai (from Waipi‘o to Waimanu) and Lālākea (towards Kukuihaele and Waimea). These lands made Waipi‘o an extremely large ahupua‘a.

During Līloa’s time, Paka‘alana heiau was of the luakini (sacrificial) type and also a pu‘uhonua (safe haven). It was one of the most sacred places on the island. The lo‘i (taro pondfield) built by Līloa’s grandfather was also a sacred. Here, Līloa built a pavement of stones from the lo‘i to Paka‘alana, located adjacent to his residence.

Shortly after Līloa’s death, a royal mausoleum was built by his son Hākau as a final resting place for the bones of Līloa. The mausoleum known as Hale o Līloa (House of Līloa) was built within the Paka‘alana heiau. The bones of Līloa were bundled up in a kā‘ai (wicker container) and placed in the hale to be revered as ancestral remains.

Ua ‘Ike Anei ‘Oe… (Did You Know That...)

  • In 1903, Kūhiō revived the Royal Order of Kamehameha which, today, continues to guard, maintain, and preserve the rituals of the ruling Chiefs of Hawai’i. It held the first observance of Kamehameha Day in 1904.
  • Kūhiō organized the Hawaiian Civic Club to help perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.
  • The song “Ku’u Home I Keaukaha” tells the story of the beauty of the homestead area at Keaukaha, Hilo on Hawai‘i island.

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