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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida


May 2005



We have been reading recently about the Hawai‘i Island ali‘i. In the last issue, Hākau and ‘Umi, sons of Līloa, were the focus. But, we must not forget that the people of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui had to contend with their own ali‘i and the challenges that those ali‘i encountered as rulers of their kingdom. On Kaua‘i, is the mo‘olelo of Ka‘ililauokekoa, ali‘i nui wahine.

After La‘amaikahiki (hānai son of Mo‘ikeha) returned to Raiatea , Mo ‘ikeha arranged for the future of his three sons with his wife, Hina‘auluā. His oldest son, Ho‘okamali‘i, moved to ‘ Oahu and became the ruling chief of the Kona district on that island. Kila went to Waipi‘o Valley on Hawai‘i Island while Haulaninuiaiākea remained on Kaua‘i and became the ali‘i nui after the death of Mo‘ikeha. If you recall in the mo‘olelo of Mo‘ikeha, upon his death, his bones were secretly hidden. But, La‘amaikahiki returned to Kaua‘i, gathered the bones of Mo‘ikeha, and returned home again to Raiatea .

As for Haulaninuiaiākea, he proved to be unsatisfactory as the ali‘i nui and through the organized unity of other Kaua‘i chiefs was easily removed from position. Kila was asked to return to Kaua‘i and take over as ali‘i nui, which he did. Although he was the ruler for a time, his heart was not set on remaining on Kaua‘i so, he passed on the leadership to Ka‘ililauokekoa (with skin like the leaf of the koa tree). Her genealogy has not survived but she is often referred to as the granddaughter of Mo‘ikeha. One source believes that she was the daughter of La‘amaikahiki which confirms her high ranking status.

What we do know of Ka‘ililauokekoa is her beauty and her expert skill at kōnane (a game similar to checkers). She twice defeated a kōnane expert from Moloka‘i. She was also an excellent surfer and challenged others, especially males, to ride the curving surf at Makaīwa (mother-of-pearl eyes), near the mouth of the Wailua River , her favorite surfing spot. Her youthful beauty attracted the interests of many chiefs who wanted her as a wife but, she ignored them all except for Kauakahiali`i who became her husband.

As was often told in the mo‘olelo, wars between chiefs and districts was not uncommon. Kaua‘i was no exception. Ka‘ililauokekoa defended the Puna district from the invasion of warriors led by

Keli‘ikoa, ali‘i of the Kona district, who wanted to capture and marry her although she was married to another ali‘i.

The fierce battle continued for days and the Puna warriors slowly retreated fearing defeat. But, Ka‘ililau-okekoa appeared at a bleak moment in the battle with help. She had organized and armed the women of Wailua to help their men.

Keli‘ikoa soon found his forces on the defensive. As he fought the leading ali‘i of the Puna warriors, he finally raised his pāhoa (dagger) to finish the fallen warrior, but was stopped by the cords of the pīkoi (tripping club) flung by Ka‘ililau-okekoa. As the cords twisted around his arms and head, one of the stones on the end of a cord struck Keli‘ikoa in the temple, and he fell dead. His warriors were defeated and his body was taken to the heiau and sacrificed to the gods.

When Ka‘ililauokekoa died, she left no heirs. Thus, the position of ali‘i nui was then offered to Ahukini-a-La‘a, the eldest son of La‘amaika-hiki.

Ahukini-a-La‘a accepted.

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