October 24, 2012

A Short Visit to the Ali‘i lands and waters of Kahalu‘u-Keauhou, Kona, Hawai‘i Island

Heiau Hapaiali‘i, Kahalu‘u, Kona, Hawai‘i Island
Aloha oukou,

We just held our 26th Annual Society for Hawaiian Archaeology conference on the sacred Ali‘i (Royal Hawaiian) lands of Kahalu‘u-Keauhou, Kona, Hawai‘i Island (Oct. 19-21, 2012).

It is always a humbling privilege to return to the ancient land and waters of Kahalu‘u – our first home in Hawai‘i was here (and Keauhou) for nearly nine years, along with my first true introduction to the sacred and intricate layers of history found within these islands.

Kahalu‘u Bay, showing the "Paokamenehune" breakwater
Many significant changes have been made here since we moved away. 

Ke‘eku (upper) and Hapaiali‘i Heiau, October 19, 2012

Mahealani Pai explaining their community's efforts to restore the Kahalu‘u cultural landscape. Note the large pohaku niho (base stone) behind him, Oct. 2012.

This trip I was part of a small group of archaeologists who were fortunate during our SHA conference to visit these lands with Mahealani Pai who shared some of the changes, along with some of the “revelations” learned while working here.  We visited several heiau (sacred Hawaiian temples) that were restored during 2007 by a local community group that Mahealani is part of, along with noted archaeologists, cultural practitioners, Hawaiian experts in “uhau humu pohaku” (dry stack masonry), and Kamehameha Schools (Kamehameha Investment Corp).  It is important for me to learn from other cultural restoration groups which can help with our efforts in Nu‘alolo Kai and Kahua o Kaneiolouma.

Before (lower photo) and after. Photos by Billy Fields 2009.

From "Kaneiolouma Historical Overview" 2010 by Randy Wichman

Cultural Historian Kepa Maly, for The Kohala Center, has compiled a very detailed collection of references about this sacred place for those interested.

At Hapaiali‘i looking toward Ke‘eku, 2012.
Hapaiali‘i Heiau (Hawaiian temple of “elevated chiefs”) measures about 150x100 feet and is completely surrounded by ocean during high tide. The heiau inner walls were measured in 1906 by John Stokes and the outer walls were mapped by Henry Kekahuna and Theodore Kelsey in 1952.  These previous maps were used as guidelines for the process, along with a new plane table map (hui kaha pohaku) led by Keone Kalawe, students, community members, cultural practitioners, and archaeologists, before restoration began. Many niho stones (original base stones) were identified and mapped in-situ which also helped as guidelines for restoration.

Through radiocarbon c14 dating, Hapaiali‘i Heiau was likely constructed around AD 1411-1465.  One of the heiau functions is a “solar calendar” for foretelling seasons and significant events. Stone alignments on the heiau point to the sun setting on the Southwest corner during winter’s solstice (Ke Alanui Polohiwa), on the Northwest corner during summer solstice (Ke Alanui a Kane), and directly in the middle of the West (Komohana) wall during spring equinox.

Kalei Nuuhiwa explaining the solar calendar to local school kids on-top Heiau Hapaialii

As for Heiau Ke‘eku, traditional stories say that Chief Kamalalawalu of Maui, trying to invade, was defeated by Lonoikamakahiki and sacrificed at the Ke‘eku heiau. Although I haven't seen them, there are supposed to be several petroglyphs carved here associated with its history.  Local mo‘olelo (traditional stories) tells of the two dog spirits dedicated to Kamalalawalu, Kauakahi‘oka‘oka and Kapapako, who continue to grieve and guard his spirit and this place today. Their ki‘i (or rock art images) are carved on a pahoehoe lava flat and can be seen today during some low tides.  Heiau Ke‘eku is also thought to have been a "pu‘uhonua" or place of refuge. There are numerous mo‘olelo for these heiau and as previously mentioned, Kepa Maly has compiled a good file for the Kohala Center.

Heiau Ke‘eku where modern-day Ki‘i Kū stand guard,
Hawai‘i Island wooden carved images of the Hawaiian God Kū

Looking toward Heiau Ke‘eku, Kahalu‘u, Oct. 2012.
Heiau Hapaiali‘i

E hō mai (i) ka ʻike mai luna mai ē
ʻO nā mea huna noʻeau o nā mele ē,
E hō mai, e hō mai, e hō mai ē (a)

Give forth knowledge from above,

Every little bit of wisdom contained in song
Give forth, give forth, oh give forth

Edith Kanakaole

Mahalo for visiting my little blog!

Mālama pono, a hui hou,
 ~ Victoria 

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