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Mo`olelo O Na Ali`i

Roy Alameida

September 2008



We continue the mo‘olelo of Kamehameha’s challenges for political position on Hawai‘i Island and his eventual battle against his uncle, Keawemauhili, of Hilo.

Makoa left Kawaihae for Laupāhoehoe to meet Pīna‘au, the ali‘i left in charge by Keawemauhili of Hilo. He relayed Kamehameha’s message of his craving for the smashed sweet potato and the goby fish from the upland streams of Laupāhoehoe, in other words, a declaration of war to avenge the death of his beloved ali‘i. On hearing these words, Pīna‘au, raised his voice in anger that Kamehameha would think that he would agree to be a servant and gather the sweet potato and fish for Kamehameha. As Makoa listened to the insult on his Ali‘i, he became angry and without hesitation, told Pīna‘au that he would be sorry for saying such words about Kamehameha. In a split second, Pīna‘au lunged forward and held down Makoa while another ali‘i, Kauwehanehane quickly grabbed the legs. As Kauwehanehane released one hand to grab hold of the cord to tie Makoa’s legs, Makoa raised his foot and with great force struck Pīna‘au in the throat. Pīna‘au fell with a broken neck and died. As other Ali‘i moved forward to grab Makoa, he reached for his leiomamo (shark tooth dagger) and struck his attackers dead.

Quickly Makoa ran to report to Kamehameha what had happened. After hearing what took place, Kamehameha prepared for battle against Keawemauhili of Hilo. His warriors called Malana, numbered three lau or twelve hundred well trained men. His second army led by Nanuikaleiōpū, a famous warrior and son of Kalani‘ōpu‘u, was called Kīpu‘upu‘u. This name was given to the young men from Waimea trained in warfare tactics by Kekūhaupi‘o and had also been taught to be fast runners like the gusting wind of Waimea. They ran to all parts of the island and were able to pursue fleeing enemies without difficulty.

These warriors were likened to the wind of Waimea in the famous mele or song below:

Hole Waimea i ka ihe a ka makani, Waimea is stripped by the spear of the wind.
Hao main ā ‘ale a ke Kīpu‘upu‘u Blown by the gusts of Kīpu‘upu‘u
He lā‘au kala‘ihi ia na ke anu A staff made stiff in the cold
‘Ō‘ō i ka nahele o Mahiki Pierced is the forest of Mahiki.

The hidden meaning in this mele is that the forest of Mahiki was a place for making spears for the warriors. In times of peace, it was a place for warrior training and preparation for impending battles. While Kamehameha was staying at Kawaihae, he and his warriors also went to Mahiki forest to make spears. According to the mo‘olelo, Waimea was well-known for these brave and supportive warriors.

Most of the fearless warriors that fought in many of the battles on Hawai‘i Island and Maui, came from Waimea. The Ali‘i and people of this area were strong supporters of Kamehameha in his conquest for political control of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Most of his warriors in the battle of Moku‘ōhai were from Waimea and Kohala and many well-known battles also took place there. ‘Umi and his brother Hākau, for example, fought each other in a battle in Waimea. ‘Ūmi also was victorious in a battle against Holoholokū, an Ali‘i of Waimea. A battle between Mokulani, Ali‘i of Hāmākua and Kauauanuimahi of Waimea lasted five years at a place called Kahuenaha.

The mo‘olelo continues in the next issue of the NWHT.

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

  • the Kīpu‘upu‘u wind is described as a chilly wind and rain at Waimea.
  • the ‘ōlelo no‘eau or wise saying Ka ua Kīpu‘upu‘u o Waimea (The Kīpu‘upu‘u rain of Waimea) speaks of Kamehameha and his warriors named after the cold wind and rain of Waimea.
  • lei Mahiki i ka ua kōkō‘ula (Mahiki wears a wreath of rainbow-hued rain); an ‘ōlelo no‘eau speaks of Mahiki referenced in the mele above.

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