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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida

September 2005


 In the July issue, the mo‘olelo ended with Manokalanipō, son of Kūkona, inheriting the kingdom from his father and ruled 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. In this issue, we look at the chiefly kingdom of O‘ahu.

 After La‘amaikahiki left Kaua‘i and returned to Rāiatea with his father’s bones, his son, Lāuliala‘a was the ali‘iai moku of the Kona district of O‘ahu. Ka‘ula‘ulaokalani, a descendant of Māweke ruled the Ko‘olau district and Lakona, also a descendant, controlled the ‘Ewa, Wai‘anae and Waialua districts. The mo‘olelo is silent regarding the exploits of these ali‘i until the time of Haka, an ali‘i from the ‘Ewa district who ruled as ali‘i nui of O‘ahu and lived at Līhu‘e, the plains near what is known as Schofield today. According to the mo‘olelo, we know that Haka was considered stingy, greedy and ruled with a heavy hand. He did not provide nor protected the ali‘i and maka‘ainana. His actions and neglect caused the chiefs to revolt against him. During a siege of his fort at Waewae near Līhu‘e, one of is guards, whom he had mistreated, allowed the rebel chiefs to enter the fort. Haka was the only one killed.

Upon his death, the Council of Chiefs elected Mā‘ilikūkahi as the new ali‘i nui of O‘ahu. Born at Kūkaniloko on O‘ahu, the sacred birth place of the ali‘i, Mā‘ilikūkahi was of high status and ali‘i kapu (sacred chief). It was appropriate that he be chosen to rule the kingdom of O‘ahu. He was taken to the heiau Kapukapuākea at Pa‘ala‘a kai in Waialua and consecrated by the kahuna to rule as ali‘i nui. The ceremony included the reenactment of cutting the navel cord, just as at the birth of a chief and the oki poepoe or circumcision. This ritual was to cleanse and purify him because of his high rank and very close relationship with the akua (god). When the ceremony was completed, Mā‘ilikūkahi was officially installed as ke ali‘i o ka moku (ruler of the island) and resided in Waikīkī which remained as the seat of the government.

Just as Manokalanipō had done on Kaua‘i by providing the survival resources for the people and maintaining a just government, so did Mā‘ilikūkahi on O‘ahu. He clearly defined the land system by surveying and dividing O‘ahu into six moku or districts and each with an ali‘i ‘ai moku (chief of the district). Each district was divided into ahupua‘a with an ali‘i assigned to it. This clearly defined land system prevented disputes between the chiefs. Lands were also made available to the maka‘āinana to cultivate and care for the resources. He commanded the people to “Cultivate the land, raise pigs and dogs and fowl, and take the produce for food.”

Mā‘ilikūkahi ruled with a firm and judicious government. He enacted laws in which theft, for example, was punishable with death. The chiefs were not to take from the maka‘āinana. Death was the penalty for anyone who rebelled. A religious ali‘i, he had many heiau built and banned sacrificial ceremonies throughout the island. He also passed a law that required all first-born male children be cared for and educated by him. He had experts in spear throwing and warfare, for example, teach the young males those skills. His genuine care for the children and for the populace was overwhelming.

Because of his kindness and generosity, the people, without hesitation, brought him food, vegetable, and other goods as ho‘okupu (gifts). He was truly respected for his exceedingly great concern for the prosperity of the kingdom and for the people.

Ua ‘Ike Anei ‘Oe (Did You Know That…)

  • Kūkaniloko on O‘ahu and Holoholokū on Kaua‘i were the only two royal birthing place for children of high-ranking ali‘i in Hawai‘i.
  • Līhu‘e, the plains near Schofield on O‘ahu, was a training school for lua, the martial arts of defense, during ancient times.
  • Kapukapuākea heaiu in Waialua is often associated with Taputapuakea marae in Rāiatea in the Society Islands.

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