Monday, May 6, 2013


"E ku a mu mu." (Be still! It is a god!)

“In ancient time women when they were to become Mothers made a pageant of love and ambition to this stone (Pōhakuloa) giving a Mohai (offering) laying before this God a fish called Hilu and emblem of gentleness, graceful, and good disposition in the child.  The fish Hilu was accompanied with the leaves of the Lama (a very large wood used in building houses for the Gods), and Emblem of wisdom, ambition and brightness for the child, Lamalama a torch (a beacon of light.)” (Montano - Galioto)

Pukui says it’s a “Large stone believed to bless expectant mothers and endow children with strength and wisdom.”  “The Pōhakuloa stone … was worshipped by Hawaiian women who prayed for their children to have wisdom and strength.”  (Aluli & McGregor)

About 1830, Queen Ka‘ahumanu ordered that a wall should be built from Punchbowl past Punahou to keep cattle from the inland residential areas. The stone wall also marked a path across Makiki that was first called Stonewall Street (it’s now known as Wilder Avenue.)

The Queen wished to form a gateway at Punahou School through this wall, and wanted two large stones on each side of the gate.

The stone would not move at first, so a kahuna was consulted.  The kahuna suggested that a lūʻau, or feast, be prepared with certain foods. After the lūʻau, the stone was moved easily to its new spot.

“My father had great difficulty in persuading them to move a large stone, which they revered as a Kupua, or local deity.  This was to be placed at one side of the upper gate as a part of the wall. It was considered very dangerous to move a Kupua, and disaster was almost sure to follow. The workmen believed that the rock would remain stationary and refuse to be up-rooted, but it was displaced without any calamity and dragged by a team of oxen to the gate.”  (Rice, The Friend, March 1924)

“The stone was to be transported from the northeastern slope of Round Top (near the former home of Mrs. FM Swanzy). Its sacred nature required that 'So sacred was Pōhakuloa that none but the king himself could sanction its removal and for that ceremony even the presence of the king was necessary, stripling though he was.'" (Damon, The Friend, March 1924).

“The big rock was exhumed from its bed (on the west side of the road leading to Manoa Valley, opposite the old “Cow Pen”) and rolled upon a framework of ship’s spars. The young King (Kamehameha III) then seated himself upon the apex of the rock, and gave the word of command, when rock, King and all were lifted upon the shoulders of the hulumanus - numerous as ants tugging at a kernel of corn - and carried down to its place.”  (Damon, The Friend, March 1924)

Pōhakuloa was shaped like a “mammoth taro leaf.”  Originally nine feet in length, the rock stood seven feet above ground and two below.

“(T)he huge lava boulder that stood guard at the Punahou gate. A monumental pyramid it seemed, towering upward in grim majesty, - probably ten feet. A challenge it was to enterprising boys, with an instinct to decorate scenery with their initials, to climb its dizzy heights and leave their sculptured letters on the only "Walhalla" within reach.”  (Weaver, The Friend, March 1924)

“This rock was a curiosity about twelve feet high, and weighing several tons, and of the shape of a mammoth kalo. Often have I climbed to its top and eaten my lunch from my tin-pail thereon, and to my childish imagination it seemed as high as a church-tower."  (Judd, The Friend, March 1924)

In 1854-59, Pōhakuloa, too large to move, was broken into pieces because it stood in the way of a road widening project.  A remainder of Pōhakuloa still stands at Punahou’s front gate.

“The other part of the stone … was given to a Japanese consul living at the corner of Beretania and Makiki streets. Kapiʻolani Maternity Home was later built at this site and some believe that the mana (divine power) of this pōhaku was a factor in its siting.”  (Aluli & McGregor)

Reportedly, there is another significant stone at Punahou, called Keapopo.  The story suggests it and Pōhakuloa would call to each other: “You come over here,” “No, you come here.”  (Manoa Heritage)

The image shows a remnant of the once larger Pōhakuloa at the Punahou School entrance (the plaque states "Punahou School Founded 1841".)

© 2013 Hoʻokuleana LLC

1 comment:

  1. The rock with the Punahou School plaque is not Pohakuloa. It was paired with Pohakuloa on either side of Punahou Street. Pohakuloa was broken up during the 1854-1859 road widening. Source: Punahou 1841-1941, p. 45.