Saturday, November 22, 2014


The literal translation for the moku (district) of Waialua is “two” (lua) “water(s)” (wai), which may be a reference to the pair of major streams that empty into its two main bays (Waialua and Kaiaka.)  An alternative interpretations of the meaning of Waialua suggest a particular lo‘i (irrigated taro patch,) a specific place called Kemo‘o and a cruel ancient chief named Waia.

Others suggest, “Waia, grandson of Wākea was said to be a cruel chief. He cared nothing of the gods or of doing good. He had men and women killed for the fun of killing them. When he saw a maiden with shapely legs, he ordered them cut off and if a man or a woman had beautiful tatooing he was put to death. … Waia lived and practised evil deeds at Waialua – as such, the place was named for him Waia-lua (Doubly disgraceful.)”  (Handy & Pukui)

“For the 28 generations from Hulihonua (the first man in the ancient Hawaiian past) to Wākea, no man was made chief over another. During the 25 generations from Wākea to Kapawa, various noted deeds are mentioned in the traditions and well-known stories.  Kapawa was the first chief to be set up as a ruling chief. This was at Waialua, Oʻahu; and from then on, the group of Hawaiian Islands became established as chief-ruled kingdoms”. (Kamakau)

Historic evidence indicates a fishing village, or a scattering of small fishing villages, extending from the west side of Waimea Bay back towards Waialua. This area along the coast and inland was known as Kāpaeloa (it’s in Waialua, and shares a boundary with Waimea ahupuaʻa that is in the moku of Koʻolauloa.)

In times past, Kāpaeloa may have been an ahupuaʻa; however, in later references (ie LCAs) Kāpaeloa is considered an ‘ili (land division smaller than an ahupua‘a) of either Kawailoa or (in the early-nineteenth century) Kamananui ahupua‘a.

The area is a relatively dry place, generally unsuitable for wet-taro cultivation, but ideal for its access to marine resources and deep-sea fisheries.  Any cultivation would have been limited to small gardens – families likely exchanged marine resources for other foodstuffs, such as taro, with farmers from nearby areas.

Here and in close proximity are four significant sites: Kūpopolo, a large heiau (temple;) Keahuohāpu’u, a fish-attracting shrine on a rocky point; Kaʻahakiʻi a tongue-shaped stone marking the ahupua‘a boundary between Waimea and Kawailoa; and Pu‘u o Mahuka Heiau at Pūpūkea.

This area, and some of the sites above are associated with Kaʻōpulupulu the last O‘ahu born Kahuna Nui (supreme spiritual leader) of the island.

In 1773, a leadership change was decided on Oʻahu where Kahahana would replace Kūmahana; this was the second chief to be elected (rather than conquest or heredity) to succeed to the leadership of Oʻahu, the first being Māʻilikūkahi who was his ancestor.  Kaʻōpulupulu was Waimea’s presiding priest and served Kahahana.

A story says Kahahana asked Kaʻōpulupulu to determine whether the gods approved of him, and whether the island of Kaua‘i would surrender if he invaded its shores. Kaʻōpulupulu requested that a temple be built where he could “speak to the great chief Kekaulike (of Kaua‘i) through the thoughts of the great akua Mahuka.”

At first, Heiau Kūpopolo was built on the beach of Waimea Bay; however, when Kaʻōpulupulu used it, he received no answer from Kaua‘i. It was thought the temple was in the wrong location.

Off shore of this area is Wānanapaoa, a small group of islets.  Several believe they were so named (Wānanapaoa literally translates to “unsuccessful prophecy”) because Kūpopolo heiau there did not live up to its intended function.

Because the kahuna believed that “thoughts are little gods, or kupua, that travel in space, above the earth … they fly freely as soaring birds,” he had another heiau, Puʻu O Mahuka built high on the cliffs. From there, Kaʻōpulupulu sent out thought waves, and the answer quickly returned – Kaua‘i wished for peace.  (Johnson; OHA)

“At that time, Kahekili was plotting for the downfall of Kahahana and the seizure of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi, and the queen of Kauaʻi was disposed to assist him in these enterprises."  (Kalākaua)

Kahekili deceived Kahahana by having him believe Kaʻōpulupulu had offered the government and throne of Oʻahu to him (Kahekili), but that out of affection for his nephew he had refused; and he intimated strongly that Kaʻōpulupulu was a traitor to Kahahana.

Kahahana believed the falsehoods and it subsequently caused friction between Kahahana and Kaʻōpulupulu and the Oʻahu King turned a deaf ear to his kahuna's advice and by the later part of 1782 or beginning of 1783, he arranged to have Kaʻōpulupulu killed.

Kahahana, who dispatched his best runners and trusted warriors to kill Kaʻōpulupulu and his son, Kahulupue … On the eve of the expected arrival of the messengers of death, Kaʻōpulupulu warned his son of their doom, saying: “I see in the sudden rise of dust that death will be here anon.”…Hardly had he given utterance to those words, when father and son were dragged out and speared.

Weakened, Kaʻōpulupulu commanded his wounded son, who had gained a point where a few steps would have placed him at the mercy of the angry sea: “E nui ke aho e kuʻu keiki a pa ke kino I ka ili kai a na ke kai ka ua ʻāina la” – Spend not your strength my son until your body strikes the surface of the ocean, for the land belongs to the sea.” This cryptic message culminated in the invasion of Oʻahu by Kahekili, aliʻi nui of Maui.  (Nui; Cultural Surveys)

Back to the sites of Kāpaeloa, Keahuohāpuʻu is believed to be either a koʻa (although fishing koʻa are characterized with coral, this one does not have coral in its construction) or a kūʻula associated with the fish (or shark) god Kāneʻaukai.  (The hāpuʻu is a kind of grouper fish.)

Kaʻahakiʻi was a “tongue-shaped stones, with only the tip protruding above the ground.”  It could still be seen in 1930s; when road construction occurred here, the workers worked abound the stone.

Another stone “in the vicinity” was blasted by railroad builders “apparently causing the death of three workmen.” A local Hawaiian referred to this stone as a kupua, “which he defined as a stone belonging to a particular region”.  (McAllister; Cultural Surveys)

During the Māhele in 1848, nearly the entire ahupua‘a of Kawailoa was awarded to Victoria Kamāmalu (LCA 7713.)  During the second half of the nineteenth century, following the death of Kamāmalu in 1866, Kawailoa Ahupuaʻa was passed on to successive members of the aliʻi (chiefs) eventually to Bishop Estate.

Today, Kūpopolo Heiau is used as an outdoor classroom for archaeological field training for the North Shore Field School (a cooperative effort of Kamehameha Schools and UH.)  Students and community volunteers learn how to identify, document and investigate archaeological artifacts, features and other cultural landscapes.  (Lots of information here from Cultural Surveys)

The image shows a Google Earth image of the area and the location of some of the sites at Kāpaeloa.  In addition, I have added some other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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