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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida

November 2005

In the last issue, we read about Kalanimanuia or Kala‘imanuia, another ali‘i wahine, who ruled O‘ahu from 1600-1665. We continue with the ali‘i of O‘ahu and their accomplishments with the focus on Kākuhihewa, grandson of Kala‘imanuia.

After the death of Kala‘imanuia, there was dissention among her heirs. The eldest, Kūamanuia, who ruled over the districts of Kona ( Honolulu) and Ko‘olaupoko ( Kailua, Kāne‘ohe, and Waimānalo) attacked his younger brother Ka‘ihikapuamanuia who controlled the lands in the ‘Ewa district. Ka‘ihikapuamanuia was also in charge of the war gods Kūkalani and Kūho‘one‘enu‘ū. Apparently, Kūmanuia was not a well-liked ruler which cost him his life. Ha‘o, another brother, came to the aid of Ka‘ihikapumanuia and the combined forces of the two brothers led to the death of Kūamanuia and his warriors.

After the battle, Ka‘ihikapuamanuia began to realize that his brother Ha‘o was quickly gaining favorable support from the general population. A battle ensued between them and Ha‘o was killed. Ha‘o’s son fled to the Wai‘anae district; the lands of his father. and became ruler. Eventually, he married his aunt, Kekela, who ruled over the Waialua and Ko‘olauloa (Kahuku, Pupukea) districts. With this union, O‘ahu emerged as two independent kingdoms.

The split of O‘ahu into two kingdoms ended when Kākuhihewa, son of Ka‘ihikapuamanuia, came to power about 1640 and ruled for fifty years. He was one of O‘ahu’s well-known rulers. His parents were of high rank and when he married Ka‘ea‘akalona, daughter of his aunt Kekela, their union was of a very high kapu (sacredness). This union also reunified the kingdom and all the districts fell under the rule of Kākuhihewa. His kapu or sacredness was sanctified at his birth at Kūkaniloko, the birthing place for the ali‘i of high rank. The sacred drums announced his birth and the cutting of the navel cord was observed by the most high ranking ali‘i on the island.

Kākuhihewa was raised and cared for by a kahu or guardian in the ‘Ewa district. According to the mo‘olelo, the district was one of several places he loved and enjoyed. The sweet tasting mullet and the fat awa (milkfish) of Pu‘uloa ( Pearl Harbor) and the sweet, delicious poi of Waialua were all loved by him.

As a child and part of the training for leadership, Kākuhihewa was taught the use of weapons—the art of spear throwing and how to wield a war club, to repel an attack, to slash, to thrush and to sling stones. These were skills taught to all high ranking chiefs and those who became great leaders excelled in every way. He had many teachers who were so skilled in thrusting, for example, that no bird or creeping insect could escape them. One of his teachers was skilled in the art of shooting with bows and arrows.

Kākuhihewa was under strict training which also included memorizing his mo‘okūauhau or genealogy. He had to memorize all the names of his ancestors and the great deeds performed by each one. There was also rigorous training in various sports which taught the young chief to endure or bear difficult challenges. It required hard work and concentration. It meant practice and not to give up.

There is more about Kākuhihewa which will continue in the next issue.


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

  • The research suggest an early settlement by Polynesians on O‘ahu to have taken place about A.D. 300-600.
  • O‘ahu was formed by two shield volcanoes, now eroded into two mountain ranges, the Wai‘anae and Ko‘olau.
  • Lē‘ahi or Diamond Head on the south shore was formed by tuff and ash cones.


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