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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida

November 2004


Part II: Mo‘ikeha

In continuing the mo‘olelo of Hawaiian ali‘i we turn to the voyagers. Among them was Mo‘ikeha. According to his genealogy which he recited before the court of Puna‘aikoāi‘i, ali‘inui of Kaua‘i, Mo‘ikeha was the grandson of Maweke (who had sailed from Kahiki and settled on O‘ahu); Muli‘eleali‘i, his father, ali‘i nui of O‘ahu; Wehelani, his mother. After his father died and the O‘ahu lands was inherited by his older brother Kumuhonua, Mo‘ikeha moved to Waipi‘o Valley on Hawai‘i where he joined his other brother ‘Olopana and his sister Ha‘inakolo.

After several years at Waipi‘o, the devastation of the valley by fierce storms and floods compelled ‘Olopana to leave and sail for Kahiki. Mo‘ikeha and his hānai son, Laa, went with him. They reached Raiātea safely where ‘Olopana was given a district of land and where Mo‘ikeha built his house near his brother. While in Raiātea , Mo ‘ikeha became well known for his hospitality and lived a comfortable and entertaining life. He never married although he did, however, fall in love with Lu‘ukia, wife of ‘Olopana. Caught in a jealous love triangle between Lu‘ukia and a local chief Mua , Mo ‘ikeha decided to return to Hawai‘i.

Mo‘ikeha readied his large canoe, Kaulua, with room and provisions for forty people. Kamahualele, a kilokilo (astrologer), who understood the stars and how to steer by them was the navigator. Included in the traveling party were male and female relatives of Mo‘ikeha, his kahuna nui, Mo‘okini, La‘amaomao, kahuna of the wind gourd and Holoholokū. There were other navigators, sailing masters, attendants and very close friends. But, his hānai son, La‘a, remained in Raiātea .

After a month’s sailing, Mo‘ikeha and his party were welcomed on the shores of Wailua on Kaua‘i. It was here that he married Hina‘auluā, daughter of ali‘i nui Puna‘aikoāi‘i. After establishing his residence, Mo‘ikeha built a heiau, named after his kahuna Holoholokū. It was here on the pōhaku hānau (birthing stones) where his sons Ho‘okamali‘i, Haulaninuiākea, and Kila were born. Henceforth, it became the sacred birthing place for the ali‘i nui.

Mo‘ikeha lived on Kaua‘i for a long time. He was known to be honest, kind and wise. As he grew older, he dreamed about La‘a, the hānai son he left in Raiātea . His desire to have La‘a with him in his old age compelled Mo‘ikeha to test which of his sons would sail to Raiātea and return with their older brother. Mo‘ikeha gave his instructions. “Each of you,” he said to his sons, “will build a canoe from the ti leaf and sail it across the river. The one whose canoe sails directly between my legs will be the one to sail the wa‘a kaulua to Raiātea ”. Excitedly, each of his sons set out to build a canoe they felt would survive the test.

Just before sunset a large crowd gathered at the river. Mo‘ikeha was down stream standing with his legs wide apart in the shallow water. The sounded. The test began. Each son prepared to set his canoe to sail. Ho‘okamali‘i was first, His canoe almost sailed between Mo‘ikeha’s legs but at the last moment leaned to one side and sank. Haulaninuiākea was next. His canoe also came close but sank. Kila, the youngest, stood at the edge of the river and said to his father. “I must delay the sail of my canoe. The winds are not right for the sail.” “Take as long as you need, replied Mo‘ikeha. Everyone waited in silence. Then a gentle breeze began to blow from mauka. Kila knew then that the canoe would sail directly downstream toward his father.

“The canoe is ready to sail,” he said. It moved slowly from the edge of the riverbank. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew and pushed the canoe faster toward Mo‘ikeha. As it sailed closer to him, the wind stopped. But the canoe continued to move in a straight line and sailed directly between the legs of Mo‘ikeha.

Kila would sail to Raiātea to get La‘a, his older brother. (Cont’d next issue)

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