Pu'ukohala - Huna Kalani Excursion
Pu'ukohala Heiau is in South Kohala,
overlooking the Maui Straits. It was started in 1790 by Kamehameha I,
after the death of Captain Cook at Kealakekua Bay. A most
impressive place to visit, Puukohala has been partly restored
and is kapu (sacred) as it is still used by native Hawaiians for their rituals.
Pu'ukohala (hill of the whale) heiau
was built to help Chief Kamehameha shape the future of Hawaii. Kamehameha
built this luakini heiau (many graves temple - people were sacrificed
there) on the advice of kahuna Kapoukahi. The kahuna told Kamehameha that if he
built a temple dedicated to his family war god Ku-ka'ilimoku (Ku
taker of islands), then he, Kamehameha, could conquer and rule all the
Hawaiian islands as their first ali'i nui ... supreme chief of all Hawai'i.
Painting by Herb Kane
When rival chiefs learned about the temple's construction,
they attacked Kamehameha, perhaps hoping to eliminate him and his army, or
at least to interfere with the rituals and displease the war god Kukailimoku.
The chiefs sailed their armies to Kohala, where Kamehameha
defeated them, and completed building his war temple at Pu'ukohala.
When the heiau was completed, it measured 100 by 224 feet
(30 x 70 meters). The prophecy required that a high chief be
sacrificed there, so Kamehameha invited his cousin Chief Keoua
to the dedication. When Keoua arrived they were attacked; Keoua and
most of his men were killed. The body of Chief Keoua was offered as sacrifice to the god Kukailimoku.
Painting by Herb Kane
This sacrifice was observed by a British sailor, John
Young, who became Kamehameha's military advisor. John
Young's house was built just below the Puukohala temple.
Chief Keoua's death was the end of opposition to Kamehameha
on the Big Island of Hawaii. By 1810, Kamehameha had
become the first king of all Hawaii. Kamehameha died in Kailua-Kona in
1819, and his grave remains kapu - a hidden secret.
The completion of Pu'ukohala in 1791 marked the
the end of old Hawaii. With the help of foreign guns,
cannon and ships, Kamehameha unified the islands in 1810. But Kamehemeha's descendents would
only rule Hawaii for
83 years - Hawaii was illegally annexed by the American
military in 1893. Pu'ukohala was designated as a national park in 1972.
PARK LANGUAGE CORRECTION ACT 1999
Public Law 92-388
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
assembled, that in order to restore and preserve in public
ownership the historically significant temple associated with
Kamehameha the Great, who founded the historic Kingdom of
Hawaii, and the property of John Young who fought for Kamehameha
the Great during the period of his ascendancy to power, the
Secretary of the Interior is authorized to acquire, by donation
or purchase with donated funds, such lands and interests in
lands, together with structures and improvements thereon, not to
exceed one hundred acres, in the vicinity of Kawaihae, Hawaii,
as generally depicted on a map entitled `Boundary Map, [
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site ] Pu'ukohola.AE8 Heiau
National Historic Site,' numbered NHS-PK 20,002, dated February
1970, which shall be off file and available for public
inspection in the offices of the National Park Service,
Washington, District of Columbia. The Secretary of the Interior
may from time to time revise the boundaries of the proposed
historic site, but the total acreage of the site shall not
exceed one hundred acres.
Luakini Heiau & Human Sacrifice
Luakini heiau were usually the largest and most
elaborate Hawaiian temples. They were temples of ruling chiefs,
dedicated to Ku as a patron of power, politics and war. Sacrifices
were offered at the luakini altar by the Mu (a sort-of police chief),
as the Hawaiians believed that god-spirits must be fed or
they would leave. When a chief or kahuna deemed that a human
sacrifice was needed, the Mu would seek victims.
The victim's rank was important. A chief or a warrior killed in battle was considered
a better sacrifice than a criminal or a slave. Sacrificial victims
were normally healthy men, who were often drowned to avoid disfiguring
their bodies. As a chief could order human sacrifice, a chief was
sometimes called a shark that travels on land, as Mary Pukui reported in
'Olelo No'eau: Hawaiian Proverbs, in 1983.
Kamehameha was born near the ancient
Mo'okini heiau, in
North Kohala. As a young chief, Kamehameha was at Kealakekua Bay
during the Lono makahiki festival
when Captain Cook sailed into Hawaiian history, Hawaiian
godhood and to a Hawaiian grave. And that's another story.
Hawaiian Spirituality . Aumakua .
King Kamehameha I conquered the islands and created
a unified kingdom founded on the ancient kapu (taboo) system. However,
the arrival of foreigners, with their diseases of the body, mind and
spirit would soon transform his beloved Hawaii into fruit farms and
Many of King Kamehameha's sacred places are now sites for
hotels and condominiums (e.g. the Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona), and the few
native Hawaiians still in Hawaii often are often treated poorly by their
King Kamehameha (Old Prints)
King Kamehameha defended the islands against invading
Russian forces in 1816 and 1817 - but he could not defend against Western
diseases. Hawaiians were an isolated people and vulnerable. Smallpox,
measles, leprosy, whooping cough, influenza and
gonorrhea devastated the native Hawaii population. By 1920, pure
Hawaiian people had diminished from over 500,000 to under 24,000. Some called it
with strong H sounds ... ka meamea means the "thingy"
The invading haole imported
foreign labor, mostly from China, Japan, the Philippines and Portugal.
In 1893, when the American military illegally overthrew the Hawaiian Monarchy, and
imprisoned Queen Liliuokalani, even the Hawaiian crown lands were
lost. Reaction against the illegal overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and the
confiscation of crown lands by the American government form a moral basis for
the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement.
. Pu'uhonua Honaunau
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