Keʻeaumoku Pāpaʻiaheahe (c. 1736-1804) was married to Namahanaʻi Kaleleokalani; they had several children, Kaʻahumanu (favorite wife of Kamehameha,) Kalākua Kaheiheimālie (wife of Kamehameha, later known as Hoapili Wahine,) Kahekili Keʻeaumoku II (Governor Cox of Maui,) Kuakini (John Adams Kuakini, Governor of Hawaiʻi and Oʻahu) and Namahana Piʻia (wife of Kamehameha.) (kekoolani)
Before the conquest of Kamehameha, the several islands were ruled by independent kings, who were frequently at war with each other, but more often with their own subjects. As one chief acquired sufficient strength, he disputed the title of the reigning prince. If successful, his chance of permanent power was quite as precarious as that of his predecessor. In some instances the title established by force of arms remained in the same family for several generations, disturbed, however, by frequent rebellions … war being a chief occupation …” (Jarves)
At the period of Captain Cook’s arrival (1778-1779), the Hawaiian Islands were divided into four kingdoms: (1) the island of Hawaiʻi under the rule of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, who also had possession of the Hāna district of east Maui; (2) Maui (except the Hāna district,) Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe, ruled by Kahekili; (3) Oʻahu, under the rule of Kahahana; and at (4) Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, Kamakahelei was ruler.
Keʻeaumoku became a staunch supporter and one of the great chiefs of the Kona district and the first among the war leaders of Kamehameha.
Following Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s death in 1782, the kingship was inherited by his son Kīwalaʻō; Kamehameha (Kīwalaʻō's cousin) was given guardianship of the Hawaiian god of war, Kūkaʻilimoku.)
Dissatisfied with subsequent redistricting of the lands by district chiefs, civil war ensued between Kīwalaʻō's forces and the various chiefs under the leadership of Kamehameha.
In the first major skirmish, Keʻeaumoku distinguished himself in the battle of Mokuʻōhai (a fight between Kamehameha and Kiwalaʻo in July, 1782 at Keʻei, south of Kealakekua Bay on the Island of Hawaiʻi.)
An ʻōlelo noʻeau notes, “Ka aku la kaʻu lāʻau i ka ʻaʻama kua lenalena.” (“My spear pierced the yellow-shelled crab.”) – a boast of a warrior who in the battle speared Keʻeaumoku (through his ʻahuʻula (cloak) - who survived.)
Keʻeaumoku killed Kiwalaʻo in a hand-to-hand combat; however, Keʻeaumoku’s mamo ʻahuʻula (feather cape – primarily of yellow feathers, named “Eheukani”) was bloodstained in that fight.
With the death of Kiwalaʻo, the victory made Kamehameha chief of the districts of Kona, Kohala and Hāmākua, while Keōua, the brother of Kiwalaʻo, held possession of Kaʻū and Puna, and Keawemauhili declared himself independent of both in Hilo. (Kalākaua)
From the first of Kamehameha's battles Keʻeaumoku had not doubted the triumph of that chief over all adversaries in the end, and eagerly grasped at every circumstance calculated to strengthen the conviction. So believing, his way seemed to be clear. (Kalākaua)
Keʻeaumoku never doubted the success of Kamehameha, and once, when Kamehameha was discomforted, Keʻeaumoku smiled as he said to his chief: “Thus far you have only skirmished with your enemies; you will win when you fight battles!” (Kalākaua)
The remaining portion of Hāmākua, the district of Hilo, and a part of Puna, acknowledged Keawemauhili as their Moi; while the lower part of Puna and the district of Kaʻū, was under Keōua. (Fornander)
Kamehameha, through the assistance of the Kona "Uncles" (Keʻeaumoku, Keaweaheulu, Kameʻeiamoku & Kamanawa (the latter two ended up on the Island’s coat of arms;)) succeeded, after a struggle of more than ten years, in securing to himself the supreme authority over that island.
A later battle at ʻIao saw the Maui troops completely annihilated by Kamehameha’s forces, and it is said that the corpses of the slain were so many as to choke up the waters of the stream of lao, and that hence one of the names of this battle was "Kepaniwai" (the damming of the waters). (Fornander)
Then, a final battle of Kamehameha’s conquest took place on Oʻahu. Kamehameha landed his fleet and disembarked his army on Oʻahu, extending from Waiʻalae to Waikīkī … he marched up the Nuʻuanu valley, where Kalanikūpule had posted his forces. (Fornander)
In 1804, Kamehameha was preparing to invade Kauaʻi – with the goal of uniting the Islands under single control. However, prior to the invasion, maʻi ‘ōkuʻu (believed to be cholera) struck the islands. It affected Kamehameha and his planned invasion of Kauaʻi.
Keʻeaumoku, the slayer of princes and maker of kings, died peacefully as governor of the windward islands. (Kalākaua) It is believed maʻi ‘ōkuʻu was the cause of death of Keʻeaumoku, on March 21, 1804.
In the face of the threat of a further invasion, in 1810, at Pākākā on Oʻahu, negotiations between King Kaumuali‘i and Kamehameha I took place and Kaumualiʻi yielded Kauaʻi to Kamehameha.
The agreement marked the end of war and thoughts of war across the islands. Although Kaumuali‘i had ceded Kaua‘i and Niʻihau to Kamehameha I, he generally maintained de facto independence and control of the island following his agreement with Kamehameha.
The image shows a drawing of Eheukani, Keʻeaumoku’s ʻahuʻula. I have added other images to a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
Follow Peter T Young on Facebook
Follow Peter T Young on Google+
© 2013 Hoʻokuleana LLC