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Hawaii Legends

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HAWAII LEGENDS: Introduction by King Kalakaua, 1888

Geography: Physical Characteristics

The Hawaiian Islands occupy a place in the great expanse of the Pacific “between the nineteenth and twenty third degrees north latitude, and the one hundred and fifty fourth degrees of longitude west of Greenwich. They are two thousand one hundred miles southwest from San Francisco, and about the same distance from Tahiti.

The group consists of ten islands*, including two that are little more than barren rocks. The farthest are about three hundred miles from each other, measuring from their extreme boundaries, and their aggregate area is a little more than six thousand one hundred square miles. Of the eight principal islands all are habitable, although the small islands of Niihau and Kahoolawe are used almost exclusively as cattle-ranges.

The most of the shores of the several islands are fringed with coral, but their origins seem to indisputably show in the numerous creates of extinct volcanoes scattered throughout the group, and in the mighty fires still blazing from the mountain-heights of Hawaii.

By far the largest part of the area of the islands is mountainous; but from the interior elevations, some of them reaching altitude of from ten to fourteen thousand feet, flow many small streams of sweet water, widening into fertile valleys as they reach the coast, while here and there between them alluvial plateaus have been left by the upland wash.

With rare exceptions the mountain-sides are covered with vegetation, some of sturdy growth, capable of being wrought into building materials and canoes, while lower down the ohia, the pal, the banana, and the bread-fruit stand clothed in perpetual green, with groves of stately cocoas between them and the sea.

Once the fragrant sandal-wood was abundant in the mountains, but it became an article of commerce with the natives in their early intercourse with the white races, and is now rarely seen. Once the valleys and plateaus were covered with growing taro and potatoes; now the cane and rice of the foreigner have usurped the places of both, and in the few shaded spots that have been left him the forgiving and revengeless Hawaiian sadly chants his wild songs of the past.

Neither within the memory of men nor the reach of their legends, which extend back more than a thousand years, has there been an active volcano in the group beyond the large island of Hawaii, which embraces two-thirds of the solid area of the archipelago. The mighty crater of Haleakala, more than thirty miles in circumference, on the island of Maui, has slept in peaces among the clouds for ages, and hundreds of lesser and lower craters, many of them covered with vegetation, are found scattered among the mountains and foothills of the group; but their fires have long been extinct, and scoria and ashes buried at their bases tell the story of their activity far back in the past.

On the island of Hawaii alone have the fires of nature remained unextinguished. At intervals during the past thousand years or more have Mauna Kea, Mauna Hualalai, and Mauna Loa sent their devastating streams of lava to the sea, and to-day the awful restless and ever burning cauldron of Kilauea, nearly a mile in circumference, is the grandest conflagration that lights up the earth. Within its lurid depths, in fiery grottoes and cambers of burning crystal, dwell Pele and her companions, and offerings are still thrown to them by superstitious natives. Do they yet believe in these deities after more than sixty years if Christian teaching? After their temples have been leveled and their gods destroyed? After their tabus have been broken and their priesthood dethroned and dishonored? The only answer is, ‘The offerings are still made’.

Although the channel and ocean coasts of the islands are generally bold, rocky and precipitous, there are numerous bays and indentations partially sheltered by reefs and headlands, and many stretches of smooth and yellow beach, where the waves, touched by the kona, or the trade-wind’s breath, chase each other high up among the cocoa’s roots and branches of the humble hau-tree clinging to the sands. The harbor of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is the only one, however, where passengers and mighty freights of ocean crafts may be received or landed without the aid of lighters.

To what processes of creation or isolation do the Hawaiian Islands owe their existence? Were they raised from the depths of the ocean by volcanic action, as plainly suggested by their formation? Or are they a part of a great sunken continent which speculation, sustained by misty tradition, claims once occupied the Polynesian seas?

Hawaiian meles mention islands no longer to be found, and the facility with which communication was maintained between the Hawaiian and more southern groups previous to the twelfth century renders plausible the assumption that this intercourse was abruptly terminated six or seven centuries ago by the disappearance of a number on intervening atolls or islands which had served as guides to early Polynesian navigators. The gigantic ruins if temples and other structures found on Easter and one or two other islands of the equatorial Pacific** are almost unanswerable arguments in favor of the theory of a sunken Polynesian continent; but he question will probably never be removed beyond the field of surmise.

*Current scientists include the 8 main and eight or more Northern Hawaiian islands (including atolls and other formations) as part of the archipelago.

**The continent referred to is commonly known as the Lost Continent of Mu

Historic Outlines

“The source and early history of the Hawaiian people, and in fact, of the Polynesian race, of which they are a part, are involved in doubt. They have generally been regarded as an offshoot of the great Malayan family, but more recent investigation shows Polynesian and Malayan races to be of distinct and different origins. The exact time of their settlement on the large coast island of southern Asia cannot be definitely determined, but their legends and genealogies leave little room to doubt that it was contemporaneous with the Malay and Hindoo invasions of Sumatra, Java, and other islands in the archipelago, during the first and second centuries of the Christian era, that the Polynesians were pushed out – not at once in a body, but by families and communities covering a period of years – to the smaller and more remote islands of the Pacific.”

Some researchers have traced the Polynesian tribes to an Aryan beginning, somewhere in Asia Minor or Arabia. Subsequently thought to have migrated into India, they are surmised to have then migrated farther east to find a home in the Asiatic archipelago from Sumatra to Luzon to Timor. (source: Legends and Myths of Hawaii, referencing works of Judge Fornander)

Their first general rendezvous was in the Fiji group, where they left their impression upon the native Papuans. Expelled from, or voluntarily leaving the Fijis, after a sojourn there of several generations, the Polynesians scattered over the Pacific, occupying by stages the several groups of islands where they are now found. Moving by the way of Samoan and Society Islands, the migratory wave did not reach the Hawaiian group until about the middle of the sixth century.

The Migrations

Nanaula, a distinguished chief, was the first to arrive from the southern islands, It is not known whether he discovered the group by being blown northward by adverse winds, or in deliberately adventuring far our upon the ocean in search of new lands. In either event, he brought with him his gods, priests, prophets and astrologers, and a considerable body of followers and retainers. He was also provided with dogs, swine and fowls, and the seeds and germs of useful plants for propagation. It is probable they found the group without human inhabitants.

During this period – probably during the life of Nanaula – other chiefs of less importance arrived with their families and followers either from Tahiti or Samoa. They came in barges and large double canoes capable of accommodating from fifty to one hundred persons each. They brought with them not only their priests and gods, but the earliest of Polynesian tradition. It is thought that none of the pioneers of the time of Nanaaula ever returned to the southern islands, nor did others immediately follow the first migratory wave that peopled the Hawaiian group.

For thirteen or fourteen generations the first occupants of the Hawaiian Islands lived sequestered from the rest of the world, multiplying and spreading through out the group. They erected temples to their gods, maintained their ancient religion, and yielded obedience to heir chiefs. The traditions of the period are so meager as to leave the impression that it was one of uninterrupted peace, little having been preserved beyond genealogies of the governing chiefs.

But late in the tenth or early in the beginning of the eleventh century the Hawaiians were aroused from their dream of more than four centuries by the arrival of a party of adventurers from the southern islands, probably from the Society group. It was under the leadership of Nanamaoa. He was a warlike chief, and succeeded in establishing his family in power on Hawaii, Maui and Oahu. But stronger leaders were son to follow from the south. Among the first was the high-priest Paoo, from Samoa. He arrived during the reign of Kapawa, the grandson of Nanamaoa, or shortly after his death.

The people were in an unsettled condition politically and Paao, grasping the situation, either sent or returned in person to Sampa for Pili, a distinguished chief of that island. Arriving with a large following, Pili assumed the sovereignty of the island of Hawaii and founded a new dynasty. Paao became his high priest, and somewhat disturbed the religious practices of the peoples by the introduction of new rites and tow or three new gods. However, his religion did not seem to differ greatly from that of the native priests, and from him the last of the priesthood, seven hundred years later, claimed lineage and right of place.

The intercourse thus established between the Hawaiian and southern groups of Nanamaoa, Paao, and Pili continued for about one hundred and fifty years, or until the middle or close of the twelfth century. During that period several other warlike families form the south established themselves in the partial to complete sovereignty of Oahu, Mai and Kauaim and expeditions were frequent between the group and other distant islands of Polynesia. It was a season of unusual activity, and the legends of the time are filled with stories of love, conquest and perilous voyages to and from the southern islands.

In that age, when distant voyages were frequent, the Polynesians were bold and intelligent navigators. In addition to large double canoes capable of withstanding the severest weather, they possessed capacious barges, with planks corded and caulked upon strong frames. They were decked over and carried ample sail. Their navigators had some knowledge of the stars; knew the prominent planets and gave them names; were acquainted with the limits of the ecliptic and situation of the equator. With these helps, and keenly watchful of the winds and currents, of ocean drifts and flights of birds, they seldom failed to reach their destination, however distant.

Near the close of the twelfth century all communications between the Hawaiian and southern groups suddenly ceased. Tradition offers no explanation of the cause. The beginning of this period of isolation found the entire group, with the exception, perhaps, of Molokai and a portion of Oahu, in the possession of the southern chiefs or their descendents.”

One of the explanations for the sudden isolation and lake of travel follows the theory of lost islands - “conjecture can find no better reason for it than the possible disappearance at that time of a number of island landmarks which had thereto fore served as guides to the mariner.

Recapping the Migrations

“It has been observed that the first discovery and occupation of the islands y Polynesians from the Society and Samoan groups occurred in the sixth century, and that more than four hundred years later a second migratory tide from the same and possibly other southern islands reached the coasts of Hawaii, continuing fir more than a century and a half, completely changing the political, and to some extent the social condition of the people. Although nearly five centuries elapsed between the first and second migratory influxes from the south, during which the inhabitants of the group held no communication with the rest of the world, it is a curious fact that the Pili, Paumakua, and other chiefly families of the second influx traced back their lineage to the ancestors and chiefs of the first migration, and made good their claim to the relationship by the recital of legends and genealogies in common to both.

At the close of the second migratory period, which concluded their intercourse with the world beyond them for more than six hundred years, or from A.D. 1175 to 1778, the people of the group had very generally transferred their allegiance to the newly-arrived chiefs. The notable exceptions were the Maweke and Kamauaua families of Oahu and Molokai, both of the ancient Nanaula line. Although they were gradually crowded from their possessions by their more energetic invaders, the high descent of the prominent native chiefs was recognized, and by intermarriage their blood was allowed to mingle with the royal currents which have flowed down the centuries since they eased to rule.

The Royal Governing Families

Until the final conquest of the group by Kamehameha I. at the close of the last century [1700s], the five principal islands of the archipelago – Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Molokai – were each governed, as a rule, by one or more independent chiefs. The smaller islands of Lanai and Kahoolawe were usually subject to Maui, while Niihau always shared the political fate of Kauai.

On each island, however, were descendants of distinguished ancient chiefs and heroes, who were recognized as of superior or royal blood, and with the originated the supreme chiefs, kings, or mois of the several islands, whose lines continued in authority, with interruptions of insurrection and royal feuds, until the consolidation of the group by Kamehameha.

No one was recognized as a tabu chief unless his geological record showed him to be of noble blood, and intermarriage between the ruling families, a well as between the lesser chiefs of the several islands, in time untied the entire aristocracy of the group by ties of blood, and gave to all of royal strain a common and distinguished ancestry.

The nobility and hereditary priesthood claimed to be of a stock different from that of common people, and their superior stature and intelligence seemed to favor that assumption. To keep pure the blood of the chiefly classes, far back in the past a college of heraldry was established, before which all chiefs were required to recite their genealogies and make good their claims to noble descent.

Proud of their lineage, to guard against imposture and keep their blood uncorrupted, the chiefs allowed their claims to family distinction to be passed upon by a college of heraldry, established by an early moi of Maui. Reciting their genealogies before the college, composed of aliis of accepted rank, and receiving the recognition of the council, chiefs were then regarded as members of the grade of aha-alii, or chiefs of admitted and irrevocable rank.

The chiefs inherited their titles and tabu privileges quite as frequently through the rank of one parent as of the other. As Hawaiian women of distinction usually had more than one husband, and the chiefs were seldom content with a single wife, the difficulty of determining the rights and ranks of their children was by no means easy; but the averment of the mother was generally accepted as conclusive and sufficient evidence in that regard.

For political purposes marriage alliances were common between the royal and chiefly families of the several islands, and thus in time the superior nobility of the entire group became interconnected by ties of blood. The political or principal wife of a king or distinguished chief was usually of a rank equal to that of her husband, and their marriage was proclaimed by heralds and celebrated with befitting ceremonies. Other wives were taken by simple agreement, and without ceremony or public announcement. Very much in the same manner the masses entered into their marriage unions. With the later, however, polygamy was not common. When husband and wife separated, as they frequently did, each was at liberty to elect another partner. The political wife of the chief was called waihine-hoao; the others, hai-wahine.

In the royal families, to serve purposes of state, father and daughter, brother and sister, and uncle and niece frequently united as man and wife. The children of such unions wee esteemed of the highest rank, and no mental or physical deterioration seemed to result from these relations. All through the past the mois and nobles of the group were noted for their gigantic proportions.

There were five of more grades of chiefs connected with the royal lines. First in order, and the most sacred, was the alii-niaupia (first off spring of a prince with his own sister); next, the alii-po (the offspring of a prince and his own niece); next, the alii-naha (the offspring of a prince or king and his own daughter); next, the alii-wohi (the offspring of either of the foregoing with another chiefly branch); and next, the lo-alii (chiefs of royal blood). Any of these might be either male of female.

The kings lived in affluence in large mansions of wood or stone, in the midst of walled grounds adorned with fruit and shade trees and other attractive forms of vegetation. The grounds contained many other smaller buildings for the accommodation of guests, retainers, attendants, servants and guards. They were attended by their high-priests, civil and military advisers, and a retinue of favorite chiefs, and spent their time, when not employed in war of affairs of state, in indolent and dignified repose.

The personal attendants of an ancient Hawaiian king were all of noble blood, and each had a specified duty. They were known as kahu-alii, or guardians of the person of the king. The consisted of the iwikuamoo, or rubber of the person of the king; the ipukuha, or spittoon-bearer; the paakahili, or kahili bearer; the kiaipoo, or sleep watcher; and the aipuupuu, or steward. Other inferior chiefs, called puuku, with messengers, spies, executioners, prophets, astrologers, poets, historians, musicians and dancers were among his retainers. Connected with the palace was an apartment used as a heiau, or chapel, which was sometimes in charge of the high-priest.

During festival seasons brilliant feasts, tournaments and hula and musical entertainments were given in the royal grounds, and the court was splendid in displays of flowers, feathers and other trappings. The king not infrequently took part in the manly games and exercises of the chiefs, and sometimes complimented the hula dancers and musicians by joining in their performances.

Royal Lineage since 1095

The following is a list of the sovereigns of Hawaii, with the dates and durations of their governments, from the eleventh to the nineteenth century. It embraces only the rulers of the island of Hawaii, who eventually became masters of the group. Until the reign of Kalaiopuu, which began in 1754, the dates are merely approximate: Pilikaeae: 1095 to 1120 Kokohau: 1120 to 1145 Kaniuhi: 1145 to 1170 Kanipahu: 1170 to 1195 Kalapana (including the usurpation of Kamaiole) : 1195 to 1220 Kahaimoelea: 1220 to 1260 Kalanuiohua: 1260 to 1300 Kuaiwa: 1300 to 1340 Kaohoukapu: 1340 to 1380 Kauholanuimaho: 1380 to 1415 Kiha: 1415 to 1455 Liloa: 1455 to 1485 Hakau: 1485 to 1490 Umi: 1490 to 1525 Kealiiokaloa: 1525 to 1535 Keawanui: 1535 to 1565 Kaikilani and Lonoikamakahiki: 1565 to 1595 Keakealanikane: 1595 to 1625 Keakamahana: 1625 to 1655 Keakealaniwahine: 1655 to 1685 Keawe and sister: 1685 to 1720 Alapanui: 1720 to 1754 Kalaniopuu: 1754 to 1782 Kamehameha I.: 1782 to 1819 Kamehameha II. – Liholiho: 1819 to 1824 Kaahumanu regency: 1824 to 1833 Kamehameha III. – Kauikeaouli :1833 to 1854 Kamehameha IV. : 1854 to 1863 Kamehameha V. – Lot: 1863 to 1872 Lunalilo: 1872-1873 Kalakaua: 1874 to ---

The Tabu

Strictly Speaking, the ancient Tabu, or kapu, was a prerogative adhering exclusively to political and ecclesiastical rank. It was a command either to do or not to do, and the meaning of it was, ‘Obey or die’. It was common to the Polynesian tribes, and was a protection to the lives, property and dignity of the priesthood and nobility.

The religious tabus were well understood by the people, as were also the personal or perpetual tabus of the ruling families; but the incidental tabus were oppressive, irksome and dangerous to the masses, as they were liable to be thoughtlessly violated, and death was the usual penalty.

Everything pertaining to the priesthood and temples was sacred, to tabu, and pigs designated for sacrifice, and running at large with the temple mark upon them, could not be molested. It was a violation of perpetual tabu to cross the shadow of the king, to stand in his presence with out permission, or to approach him except upon the knees. This did not apply to higher grade chiefs, who themselves possessed tabu rights.

Favorite paths, springs, streams and bathing places were at intervals tabued to the exclusive use if the kings and temples, and squid, turtle, and two or three species of birds could be eatten only by priests and the tabu nobility.

Yellow was the tabu color of the royalty, and red of the priesthood, and mantles of the feathers of the oo and mamo could only be worn by kings and princes. Feather capes of mingled red and yellow distinguish the lesser nobility.

Women were tabued from eating plantains, bananas, and cocoanuts; also the flesh of swine and certain fish, among them the kumu, moano, ulua, honu, ea, hahalua and naia; and men and women were allowed under no circumstances to partake of food together. Hence, when Liholiho, in 1819, openly violated this fundamental tabu by eating with his queen, he defied to gods of his fathers and struck at the very foundation of the religious faith of his people.

The general tabus declared by the supreme chief or king were proclaimed by heralds, while the puloulou – a staff surmounted by crown of with or black kappa – places at the entrance of temples, royal residences and mansions of tabu chiefs, or beside springs, groves, paths or bathing-places, was a standing notification against trespass. General tabus were declared either to propitiate the gods or in celebration of important events. They were either common or strict, and frequently embraced an entire district and continued from one to ten days.

During the continuance of a common tabu the masses were merely required to abstain from their usual occupations and attend services at the heiaus, or temples; but during a strict tabu every fire and every light was extinguished, no canoe was shoved from shore, no bathing was permitted, the pigs and fowls were muzzled or placed under calabashes that they might utter no noise, the people conversed in whispers, and the priests and their assistants were alone allowed to be seen with out their places of abode. It was a season of deathly silence, and was thought to be especially grateful to the gods.

Some of the royal tabus, centuries back in the past, were frivolous and despotic, such a regulating the wearing of beards and compelling all sails to be lowered on passing certain coast points; but, however capricious or oppressive, the tabu was seldom violated, and it maintenance was deemed a necessary protection to the governing classes.

Ancient Hawaiian Creation Story

The legends of Hawaiians were preserved with marvelous integrity. Their historians were the priests, who at intervals met in council and recited and compared their genealogical meles, in order that nothing might be either changed or lost.

From the beginning, according to the Hawaiian story, a trinity of gods existed, who were the sole and all-pervading intelligences of chaos, or night – a condition represented by the Hawaiian word Po. These gods were: Kane, the originator Ku, the architect and builder Lono, the executor and director of the elements.

By the united will of Hikapoloa, or the trinity, light was brought into chaos. They next created the heavens, three in number, as their dwelling-places, and then the earth, sun, moon and stars. From their spittle they next created a host of angels to minister to their wants.

Finally, man was created. His body was formed of red earth mingled with the spittle of Kane, and his head of whitish clay brought by Lono from the four quarters of the earth. He was made in the image of Kane, who breathed into his nostrils, and he became alive. Afterwards, from one of his rubs, taken from his side while he slept, a woman was created. The man was called Kumu-honau, and the woman Ke-ola-ku-honua.”

(This is one of several events described in the ancient Hawaiian religion that are very close if not exact parallels to the Christian biblical stories. For more on the Christian connection, please see the unit of Hawaiian and Christian Parallels. )

The newly created pair were placed in a beautiful paradise called Paliuli. Three rivers of the ‘waters of life’ ran through it, on the banks of which grew every inviting fruit, including the ‘tabued bread-fruit tree’ and ‘sacred apple-tree’ with which are connected the fall and expulsion of man and woman from their earthly paradise. The three rivers had their source in a beautiful lake, fed by ‘the living waters of Kane’. The waters were filled with fish which fire could not destroy, and on being sprinkled with them the dead were restored to life.

Hawaiian Gods

(King Kalakaua’s book records lists of the gods, short stories about the gods, and longer legends about their interactions with humans. Where there are stories to link to about these gods, their name will be bold and underlined below so you can click to learn more about them.)

Following is a list of the supreme and principal elemental, industrial and tutelary deities of the Hawaiian group:

The Godhead

Kane, the organizer Ku: the architect and builder Lono: the executor, fallen figure Kanaloa: the Lucifer, or fallen angel
Rulers in the Realm of Po, or death

Akea: the first Hawaiian king, who, after life, founded the island kingdom of Kapapahaunaumoku, in the realms of Po, or death. Milu: the successor of Akea, or who, according to another belief, accompanied Akea to Po, and became the perpetual ruler of a kingdom on its western confines. Manua: referred to in some legends as the supreme sovereign of Po. With him abide the spirits of distinguished chiefs and priests, who wander among beautiful streams and groves of kou trees, and subsist upon lizards and butterflies.

Minor Celestial Dieties

Kaonohiokala: (the eyeball of the sun) A celestial god, with an abode somewhere in the heavens, and to whose prsence the departed spirits of chiefs were conducted. Kuahaiio: the messenger who conducted the souls of distinguished chiefs to Kaonohiokaqla. Olopue: A god of Maui, who bore the spirits of noted chiefs to the celestial paradise. Kamehameha sought to secure possession of a very sacred image of this god, inherited by Kahekili, moi of Maui.

The Volcanic Dieties

Pele: The ruling goddess of volcanoes, with her sisters. Hiiaka-wawahi-lani: The heaven-dwelling cloud-holder. Makoie-nawahi-waa: The fire-eyed canoe-breaker.

Hiiaka-noho-lani: The heaven-dwelling cloud-holder. Hiiaka-kaalawa-maka: The quick-glancing cloud-holder Komo-hoalii: Or King Moho, the king of vapor and steam Kapohoikahiola: God of explosions Keuakepo: God of the night rain, or rain of fire. Kane-kahili: The husband of thunder, or thundering god. (A hunchback) Keoahi-kamakaua: The fire-thrusting child of war (A hunchback)

Deities of the Elements

Laamaomao: God the of the winds, the Hawaiian Aeolus, whose home was on Molokai. Haniakuluiau: A goddess if rain Kuula: A god of fishermen for all islands – temples were erected to him on the shores of favorite fishing grounds, and the first fish of every catch was his due. Hina: Wife of Kuula (appealed to when her husband with held his favors) Laepua and Kaneapua: Gods of fishermen on Lanai Hinahele and her daughter Aiaikuula: Goddess of fishermen on Hawaii Ukanipo: The great shark god of Hawaii Moaalii: The principal shark god of Oahu and Molokai Lanoakiki: The great eel-god of all the group Apukohai and Uhumakaikai: Evil shark or fish-gods of Kauai Note: There were a number of shark and lizard gods. They were powerful and malignant, and greatly feared by the classes who frequented the sea. Heiaus were erected to them on promontories overlooking the ocean, and the offerings to them of fish and fruits were always liberal. They assumed the forms of giant sharks and lizards, and not unfrequently lashed the waters into fury and destroyed canoes.

Gods of the Arts and Industries

Akua-ula: The god of inspiration Haulili: A god of speech, special to Kuai Kolemoku: The deified chief who first learned the use of herbs and the art of healing from the gods. He was a patron of the kahunas. Disciples were Olonapuha and Makanuiailone. Kukaoo: God of the husbandman Lakakane: God of the hula nad similar sports Mokualii: God of the canoe-makers Hai: God of kapa making Ulaulakeahi: God of distillation Lie: A goddess of the mountains who braided leis. Kiha: A goddess of Maui held in great reverence

The Kahunas and The Sorcerers

The high priests, Kahunas, presided over heiaus dedicated either to the higher gods of the pantheon or to a war-god of the king or supreme chief. He was next to the king in authority, and always of distinguished blood. Different grades of priests came into existence, such as seers, prophets and kahunas of various functions, including the power of healing and destroying. In fact, the priesthood embraced ten distinct grades or college, each possessing and exercising powers peculiar to it, and the mastery of all of them was one of the qualifications of the high priesthood. The tutelary deity of the entire body was Uli. [pic]

Surrounded by seers, prophets and assistants, and claiming to hold direct intercourse with the gods, the highest Kahunas consulted on all matters of state consequence, and the auguries of the temple were always accepted with respect and confidence. The high-priest sometimes had charge of the war-god of the king, and in such cases went with it to the field of battle.

Hua, one of the ancient kings on Maui, defied the priesthood and slew his high priest. As a warning to ruling chiefs, the story of the consequences of Hua’s madness has come down with great conciseness through the chronicles of the priesthood. Hua’s kingdom became a desolation. Wherever he traveled all vegetation perished, and he finally died of famine on Hawaii, and his bones were left to whiten in the sun.


There were several classes of priests*, or Kahunas, beside those who were connected with the temples. Some were seers and doctors, others were dealers in enchantment, and subsisted by preying upon the people through their superstitions. All physical illness was attributed to either the anger of the gods, witchcraft, or the prayers of a malignant Kahuna. The afflicted person usually sent for a Kahuna, whose first business was to discover the cause of the malady through incantation. This ascertained, an effort was made to counteract the spells or prayers which were wearing away the life of the patient, and sometimes with so great success that the affliction was transferred to the party whose malice had invoked it.

The belief that one person might be prayed to death by another was universal with the ancient Hawaiians, and not a few of the race would turn pale today if told that one of priestly strain was earnestly praying for his death. In praying a person to death it is essential that the Kahuna should possess something closely connected with the person of the victim – a lock of his hair, a nail-paring, or a small quantity of his spittle, for example; hence the office of spittoon bearer to the ancient kings was entrusted only to chiefs of some rank, who might be expected to guard with care the royal expectoration.

The belief was general that the spirits of the dead might be seen and conversed with by the kilos, or sorcerers, and the spirits of the living, it was claimed, were sometimes invoked from their slumbering tabernacles by priests of exceptional sanctity. The spirit of the dead was called unihipili, while the disembodied and visible spirit of a living person was known as kahoaka.

After the Second Migration

When the high-priest Paao arrived with Pili he introduced some new gods wile recognizing the old, strengthened and enlarged he scope of the tabus, and established a hereditary priesthood independent of, and second only in authority to, the supreme political head. Different grades of priests also came into existence, such as seers, prophets, astrologers and kahunas of various functions, including the power of healing and destroying. In fact, the priesthood embraced ten distinct grades or colleges, each possessing and exercising powers peculiar to it, and the mastery of all of them was one of the qualifications of the high priesthood. The tutelary deity of the entire body was Uli.

The form of the heiau, or temple, was changed by Paao and his successors, and the masses mingled less freely in the ceremonies of sacrifice and other forms of worship. The high priesthood became more mysterious and exclusive, and assumed prerogatives above the reach of royalty. The old Hawaii trinity – Kane, Ku and Lono _ remained the supreme gods of he pantheon, but Kanaloa, the spirit of evil, was accorded beneficent attributes and exalted among them.

The regions of Po, or death, were presided over by Milu, a wicked king who once ruled on earth, while the spirits of favorite chiefs were conveyed by the divine messenger Kuahairo to the presence of Kaono-hi-kala, whose beatific abode was somewhere in the heavens. Although significant of darkness, Po was not without light, it could be visited by favored mortals, and the dead were sometimes brought back from it to earth.

Pele, the dreadful goddess of the volcanoes, with her malignant relatives, was added to the Hawaiian deities during the second influx from the south, and temples were erected to her worship all over the volcanic districts of Hawaii. At that period were also introduced Laamaomao, the god of the winds, the poison goddesses Kalaipahoa and Kapo, and many other deities.

But the worship of the Hawaiians was not confined to Kane, Ku, Lono and Pele. Heiaus were erected to war-gods of the kings, and great sacrifices were frequently made to them generally of human beings, preceding, during and following campaigns and battles. Humbler temples were also maintained to fish, shark, lizard and other gods, where sacrifices of fish and fruits were offered.

To the superstitious massed the land abounded in gnomes and fairies, and the waters in nymphs and monsters, whose caprices are themes of a bountiful store of folklore. With almost every stream, gorge and headland is connected some supernatural story, and the bards and musicians of old earned easy support by keeping alive these legends of the people. To some supernatural powers were given, and malignant and beneficent spirits assumed human forms and fitted among the palms in the guise of birds.

The people made their won household gods, and destroyed them when they failed to contribute to their success. For example, at Ninole, on the southeast coast of Hawaii, the stones of which, it was thought, propagated by contact with each other. From the large stones the people made gods to preside over their games. When a stone was selected for a god it was taken to the heiau, where certain ceremonies were preformed over it. It was then dressed and taken to witness some of the game or pastime. If the owner was successful it was accepted as a god; if unsuccessful more than once or twice, it was thrown away or wrought into an axe or adze. Sometimes a stone of each sex was selected, wrapped in kappa, and laid away. In time a small pebble was found with them. It increased in size, and was finally taken to the heiau and formally made into a god. Such is the story that is still told.

The people believed that the spirits of the departed continued to hover around their earthly homes, and the shades of ancestors were appealed to in prayer. The owl and a bird called the alae were regarded as gods, and scores of other deities, controlling the elements of presiding over the several industries and amusements of the masses, were recognized and placated with sacrifices when in unfavorable moods. They had a god of the winds, of the husbandman, the warrior, the canoe maker, the doctor and the sorcerer, and many gods of the sailor and fisherman.

The services of the high priest did not extend to these popular deities on any of the islands of the group. The heiaus over which he presided were dedicated either to the higher gods of the pantheon or to the war-god of the king or supreme chief. He was next to the king in authority, and always if distinguished blood. Surrounded by seers, prophets and assistants, and claiming to hold direct intercourse wit the gods, he was consulted on all matters of state consequence, and the auguries of the temple priest were always accepted with respect and confidence. The high priest sometimes had charge of the war-god of the king, and in such cases went with it out in the field of battle.

There were several classes of priests, or kahunas, beside those who were connected with the temples. They were seers, doctors and dealers in enchantment. All physical illness was attributed either to the anger of the gods, witchcraft, or the prayers of a malignant kahuna. The afflicted person usually sent for a kahuna, whose first business was to discover the cause of he malady through incantation. This ascertained, an effort was made to counteract the spells or prayers whish were wearing away the life of the patient, and sometimes with so great success that the affliction transferred itself to the party whose malice had invoked it.

The belief that one person might be prayed to death by another was universal with the ancient Hawaiians, and not a few of the race would turn pale today if told one of the priestly strain was earnestly praying for his death. In praying a person to death it is essential that the kahuna should possess something closely connected with the person of the victim – a lock of his hair, a tooth, a nail-paring, or small quantity of his spittle, for example; hence the office of spittoon-bearer to the ancient kings was entrusted only to chiefs of some rank, who might be expected to guard with care the royal expectoration.

The belief was general that the spirits of the dead might be seen and conversed with by the kilos, or sorcerers, and the spirits of the living, it was claimed, were sometimes invoked from their slumbering tabernacles by priests of exceptional sanctity. The spirit of the dead was called unihipili, while the disembodied and visible spirit of a living person was known as kahoaka.

Of all the deities, Pele was held in the greatest dread on the island of Hawaii, where volcanic eruptions were frequent. With her five brother and either sisters – all representing different elemental forces – she dwelt in state in the fiery abysses of the volcanoes, moving from one to another at her pleasure, and visiting with inundations of lave such districts as neglected to caste into the craters proper offerings of meat and frits, or angered her in other respects. One of her forms was that of a beautiful woman, in which she sometimes sought human society, and numerous legends of her affairs of love have been preserved. She was regarded as a special friend of Kamehameha I, and the suffocation of a portion of the army of Keoua, near the crater of Kilauea, in 1791, was credited to her directly.


The public heiaus, or temples, of the Hawaiians were usually walled enclosures of from one to five acres, and generally irregular in form. The walls were frequently ten feet in thickness and twenty feet in height, and the materials used was unhewn stone, with out mortar or cement. They narrowed slightly from the base upward, and were sometimes capped with hewn slabs of coral or other rock not too firm in texture to be worked with tools of stone.

With in this enclosure was an inner stone or wooden temple of small dimensions, called a luakina, or house of sacrifice, and in front of the entrance stood the lele, or altar, consisting of a raised platform of stone. The inner temple was sacred to the priests. With in it stood the anu, a small wicker enclosure, from which issued the oracles of the kaulas, or prophets, and around the walls were ranged charms and gods of especial sanctity. Beside the entrance to this sacred apartment were images of he principal gods, and the outer and inner walls were surmounted by lines of stone and wooden idols.

The enclosure contained other buildings for the accommodation of the high priest and his assistants; also a house for the governing chief or king, some distance removed from the domiciles of the priest. It was used temporarily by him when on a visit of consultation to the temple, to as a place of refuge in ties of danger. On each side of the entrance to the other enclosure was a tabu staff, or elevated cross, and near it was a small walled structure in which were slain the victims for the altar.

Places of Refuge

Temples of refuge, called puhonuas, were maintained on Hawaii, and possibly Lanai and Oahu in the remote past. One of the puhonuas on Hawaii was at Honaunau, near the sacred burial-place of Hale-o-Kane, and the other at Waipio, connected with the great heiau of Paa-kalani. Their gates were always open, and priests guarded their entrances. Any one who entered their enclosures for protection, whether chief or slave, whether escaping criminal or warrior in retreat, was safe from molestation, even though the king pursued.


At Cook’s Arrival in 1778

Captain Cook “was an officer in the English navy, and, with the warships Resolution and Discovery, was on a voyage in search of a northwest passage eastward from Behring’s Straits. Leaving the Society group in December 1777, on the 18th of the following month he sighted Oahu and Lanai. Landing on the latter island and Niihau, he was received as a god by the natives, and his ships were provided with everything they required. Without then visiting the other islands in the group, he left of the northwest coast of American on the 2nd of February 1778.

It was estimated that the islands then contained a population of 400,000 souls. This estimate has been considered large. But when it is noted that fifteen years later there was between thirty and forty thousand warriors under arms in the group at the same time, with large reserves ready for service, the conclusion is irresistible that the population could scarcely have been less. Kamehameha invaded Oahu with sixteen thousand warriors, principally drawn from the island of Hawaii. He was opposed by eight or ten thousand spears, while as many more awaited his arrival on Kauai.

At the time of the arrival of Captain Cook, Kalaniopuu, of the ancient line of Pili, was king of the large island of Hawaii, and also maintained possession of a portion of the island of Maui. Kahekili, the ‘thunderer’, as his name implied, was moi of Maui, and the principal wife of Kalanipouu was his sister Kahahana who was also related to Kahekili, was the king of Oahu and claimed possession of Molokai and Lanai. Kamahahelei was the nominal queen of Kauai and Niihau, and her husband was a younger brother to Kahehili, while she was related to the royal family of Hawaii. Thus, it will be seen, the reigning families of several islands of the group were all related to each other, as well by marriage as by blood. So it had been for many generations. But their wars with each other were none the less vindictive because of their kinship.

At the time Kahekili was plotting for the downfall of Kahahana and seizure of Oahu and Molokai, and the queen of Kauai was disposed to assist him in these enterprises. The occupation of the Hana district of Maui by the kings of Hawaii had been the cause of many stubborn conflicts between the two islands, and when Captain Cook first landed on Hawaii he found the king of that island absent on another warlike expedition to Maui, intent upon avenging his defeat of two years before, when his famous brigade of eight hundred nobles was hewn to pieces. Connected with the court of Kalaniopuu at that time was a silent and taciturn chief, who had thus far attracted but little attention as a military leader. He was a man of gigantic mould, and his courage and prowess in arms were undoubted; yet he seldom smiled or engaged in the manly sports so attractive to others. His friends were the few who discerned in him a slumbering greatness which subsequently gave him a name and fame second to no other in Hawaiian history. He was the reputed and accepted son of Keoua, the half-brother of Kalaniopuu, although it was believed by many that his real father was Kahekili, moi of Maui. But, however this may have been, he was of royal blood, and was destined to become not only the king of Hawaii, but the conqueror and sovereign of the group. This chief was Kamehameha.”

In November of 1778, Cook “returned to the islands, first sighting the shores of Molokai and Maui. Communicating with the wondering natives of the latter island, he sailed around the coasts of Hawaii, and on the 17th of January, dropped his anchors in Kealakekua Bay. He was hailed as a reincarnation of their god Lono by the people, and the priests conducted him to their temples and accorded him with divine honors. Returning from his campaign in Maui, the king visited and treated him as a god, and his ships were bountifully supplied with pigs, fowls, vegetables and fruits.

The ships left the bay on the 4th of February, but, meeting with a storm, returned on the 8th for repairs. Petty bickering soon after occurred between the natives and white sailors, and on the 13th one of the ship’s boats was stolen by a chief and broken up for its nails and other fastenings. Cook demanded its restoration, and, while endeavoring to take the king on board the Resolution as a prisoner, was set upon by the natives and slain. Fire was opened by the ships, and many natives, including four or five chiefs, were killed. The body of Cook was borne off by the natives, but the most of the bones were subsequently returned at the request of Captain King, and the vessels soon after left the island.

If Captain Cook was not the first of European navigators to discover the Hawaiian Islands, he was at least the first to chart and make their existence known to the world. It has been pretty satisfactorily established that Juan Gaetano, the captain of a Spanish galleon sailing from the Mexican coast to the Spice Islands, discovered the group as early as 1555. But he did not make his discovery known at the time, and the existence of an old manuscript chart in the archives of the Spanish government is all that remains to attest the claim to it.

Native traditions mention the landing of small parties of white men on two or three occasions during the latter part of the sixteenth century; but if the faces and ships of other races were seen by the Hawaiians in the time of Gaetano, their descendents had certainly lost all knowledge of both two hundred or more years later, for Cook was welcomed as a supernatural being by the awe-stricken islanders, and his ships were described by them as floating islands. A simple iron nail was to them priceless jewel, and every act and word betrayed an utter ignorance of everything pertaining to the white races.

Hawaii After Cook

Kalaniopuu, the king of Hawaii, died in 1782, and Kamehameha, through the assistance of three or four prominent chiefs, succeeded, after a struggle of more than ten years, in securing to himself supreme authority over that island. This done, encouraged by the prophets, assisted by his chiefs, and sustained by an unwavering faith in his destiny, he conquered Maui, Oahu, Kauai and their dependencies, and in 1795 was recognized as the sole master of the group.

The existence of the Hawaiian Islands became generally known to the world soon after he final departure of the Resolution and Discovery, but it was not until 1786 that vessels began to visit the group. The first to arrive after the death of Captain Cook were the English ships King George and Queen Charlotte, and the same year a French exploring squadron touched at Maui. In 1787 several trading vessels visited the group, and the natives began to barter provisions and sandalwood for firearms and other weapons of metal. [pic]

In 17792, and again in 1793, Captain Vancouver, of an English exploring squadron, touched and remained for some time on the islands. He landed sheep, goats, and horned cattle, and distributed a quantity of fruit and garden seeds. His memory is greatly cherished by the natives, for his mission was one of peace and broad benevolence. Thenceforward trading-vessels in considerable numbers visited the group, and during the concluding wars of Kamehameha the rival chiefs secured the assistance of small parties of white men, and to some extent had learned the use of muskets and small cannon, readily purchased and paid for in sandal-wood, which was then quite abundant on most of the timbered mountains of the islands. The harbor oh Honolulu was first discovered and entered by two American vessels in 1794, and it soon became a favorite resort for the war, trading and whaling vessels of all nations.

In the midst of these new and trying conditions, Kamehameha managed the affairs of his kingdom with distinguished prudence and sagacity. He admonished people to endure with patience the aggressions of the whites, and to retain, as fast as possible, their simple habits. With he little empire untied and peaceful, Kamehameha dies on the 8th of May 1819, at the age of about eighty; and his bones were so secretly disposed of that they have not yet been found.

Liholiho, the elder of his sons by Keopuolani, the daughter of his cousin Kiwalo, succeeded his warlike father with the title of Kamehameha II. Some knowledge of the Christian religion had reached the natives through their white visitors, but the old chief died in the faith of his fathers.

The death of Kamehameha was immediately followed by an event for which history affords no parallel. In October 1819- six months before the first Christian missionaries arrived on the islands – Liholiho, under the inspiration of Kaahumanu, one of the widows of his father, suddenly, and in the presence of a large concourse of horrified natives, broke the most sacred of tabus of his religion by partaking of food from vessels from which women were feasting, and the same day decreed the destruction of every temple and idol in the kingdom. He was sustained by the high-priest Hewahewa, who was the first to apply the torch; and within a few weeks idols, temples, altars, and a priesthood which had held prince and subject in awe for centuries were swept away, leaving he people absolutely without a religion.

But all did not peacefully submit to the royal edict against their gods. In the twilight of that misty period looms up a grand defender of the faith of Keawe and Umi and the altars of the Hawaiian gods. This champion was Kekuaokalani, a nephew, perhaps a half-brother of Liholiho. In his veins coursed the royal blood of Hawaii, and his bearing was that of a king. He was above six and one-half feet in height, with limbs well proportioned and features strikingly handsome and commanding. He was of the priesthood, and, through the bestowal of some tabu or prerogative, claimed to be second in authority to Hewahewa, who traced his lineage back to Paao, the high priest of Pili. His wife, Manono, was scarcely less distinguished for her courage, beauty and chiefly strain.

The apostasy of Hewahewa left Kekuaokalani at the head of the priesthood – at least do he seems to have assumed – and the royal order to demolish the temples was answered by his him with an appeal to the people to arm and join him in defense of their gods. He raised the standard of revolt on the island of Hawaii, and was soon at the head of a considerable army. A large force was sent against him, and every effort was made to induce him to lay down his arms. But he scorned all terms, refused all concessions.

A battle was fought at Kuamoo, at first favorable to the defenders of the gods; but the firearms if the whites in the service of the king turned the tide of war against them, and they were defeated and scattered. Kekuaokalani was killed on the field, and Manono, his brave and faithful wife, fighting by his side, fell dead upon the body of her husband, with a musket ball through her temples. A rude monument of stones sill marks the spot where they fell; and it is told in whispers that the kona, passing through the shrouding vines, attunes them to saddest tones of lamentation over the last defenders in arms of the Hawaiian gods.

The abolition of the tabu, which had made them slaves to their chiefs and priests, and held their fathers in bondage for centuries, was hailed with so great a joy by the native masses that they did not hesitate when called upon to consign the priesthood and their gods to the grave of the tabu.

The First Missionaries and Royal Succession

On the 30th of March 1820 – some nine months after this strange religious revolution – the first party of Christian missionaries arrived at the islands from Massachusetts, They were well received. They found a people without a religion, and their work was easy.

Other missionary parties followed from time to time, and found the field alike profitable to the cause in which they labored and to themselves individually. They acquired substantial possessions in their new home, controlled the government for forty or more years following, and their children are today among the most prosperous residents of the group. This is not said with a view to undervalue the services of the early missionaries to Hawaii, but to show that all missionary fields have not been financially unfruitful to zealous and provident workers.

And now let it be remarked with emphasis that the value of missionary labors in the Hawaiian group should not be measured by the small number of natives who today may be called Christians, but rather by the counsel and assistance of these thrifty religious workers in securing and maintaining the interdependence of the islands, and by degrees establishing a mild and beneficent constitutional government, under which taxation is as light and life and property are as secure as in any other part of the civilized world. They were politicians as well as religious instructors.

In 1824 Liholiho and his queen died while on a visit to England, and their remains were sent back to the islands in an English man-of-war. Kauikeauouli, a youth of ten years and brother of the deceased king, was accepted as the rightful heir to the throne under the title of Kamehameha III., and Kaahumanu, one of the wives of Kamehameha I, acted s regent and prime minister.

In 1827, and ten years later, Roman Catholic missionaries arrived, and were sent away by order of the government; but in 1839, the priests of that denomination were finally landed under the guns of a French frigate and allowed to remain. Meantime churches, schools and printing presses had been established, the Hawaiian had become a written language, and the laws and decrees of government were promulgated in printed form.

In 1840 the first written constitution was given to the people, guaranteeing them a representative government. IN February 1843, Lord Paulet, of the English navy, took formal possession of the islands, but in the July following their sovereignty was restored through the action of Admiral Thomas. In November of the same year France and England mutually agreed to refrain from seizure or occupation on the islands, or any portion of them, and he United States, while declining to become a part to the agreement, promptly acknowledged the independence of the group.

Kamehameha III died in 1854 and was succeeded by Kamehameha IV. The latter reigned until 1863, when he died and was succeeded by Prince Lot, with the title of Kamehameha V. In 1864 Lot abrogated the constitution of 1840 and granted a new one. He reigned until 1872, and died with out naming a successor, and the Legislative Assembly elected Lunalilo to the throne. He was of he Kamehameha family, and with his death, in 1873, he Kamehameha dynasty came to an end. He, too, failed to designate a successor and David Kalakaua was elected to the throne by the Legislative Assembly in 1874, receiving all but five votes if that body, which were cast for the queen dowager Emma, widow of Kamehameha IV.

King Kalakaua, with his queen, Kapiolani, was formally crowned on the 12th of February, 1883, in the presence of the representatives of the nations of the Old World and the New.”

First Contact?

While history generally records Captain Cook as the first discoverer of the Hawaiian Islands, which he named the Sandwich Islands, there are legends of other visitors predating Cook’s arrival.

Wakalana was one of the chiefs of Maui, and in the 1250s, his village was visited by unexpected guests – “ a remarkable event had occurred at Wailuku. It was the second appearance in the group of a vessel bearing people of a strange race, described by tradition as “white, with bright, shining eyes.” Mention is made of other white people who were brought to the islands on one or more occasions by Argonauts of earlier generations, notably by Pauakua of Oahu, who near the close of the eleventh century returned from one of his exploring voyages with three white persons of an unknown race; but this was the second time that a vessel of a people other than Polynesian had been seen in Hawaiian waters. The first made a landing near Makapu point, on the island of Oahu, more than a hundred years before. Tradition had preserved the name of the vessel (Ulupana) and of the caption (Mololano) and his wife (Malaea); but it is not mentioned that they remained in the country; it is probable they soon re-embarked.


The second arrival is more distinctly marked by tradition. It was a Japanese vessel that had been dismantled by a typhoon, driven toward the North American coast until it encountered the northwest trade winds, and then helplessly blown southward to the coast of Maui. It was late in the afternoon that word had been brought to Wakalana that a strange vessel was approaching the coast. As it was high out of water and drifting broadside before the wind, it appeared to be of great size, and little disposition was shown by the people to go out in their canoes to meet the mysterious monster.

Wakalana hastened to the beach, and, after watching the vessel intently for some time, saw that it was drifting slowly toward a rock coast to the westward. Seaman enough to know that certain destruction awaited it in that direction; Wakalana hastily manned a stout canoe and started out to sea in pursuit. The waters were rough and his progress was slow, but he succeeded in reaching the vessel a few minutes after it struck the cliffs and was dashed to pieces. Seizing whatever he could find to assist them in floating, hose on board leaped into the sea. It was hazardous to approach the wreck too nearly, by Wakalana succeeded in rescuing from the waves and returning to Wailuku with five persons, but not before he saw the last fragment of the wreck disappear in the abyss of raging waters.

There is nothing in the names preserved, either of the vessel of its rescued passengers, to indicate nationality. The name of the vessel given was Mamala, which in the Hawaiian might mean wreck or fragment. The name of the captain was Kaluiki-a-Manu; the four others were called Neleike, Malaea, Haakoa and Hika – all names of Hawaiian construction. Two of them – Neleike and Malaea – were women, the former being the sister of the captain.

They landed almost without clothing, and the only novelties upon their persons were the rings and bracelets of the women, and a sword in the belt of the captain, with which he had thoughtlessly leapt into the sea from the sinking vessel. They were half-famished and weak, and by gestures expressed their gratitude to Wakalana for his gallantry in rescuing them, and asked for food and water. Both were provided in abundance, and two houses were set apart for their occupation. They attracted great attention, and people came from all parts of the island to see the white strangers. It was noted with astonishment by the natives that these men and women ate from the same vessels, and the nothing was especially tabu to either sex; but Wakalana explained that their gods doubtless permitted such freedom, and they should therefore not be rebuked for their apparent disregard of Hawaiian custom.

The comfort of the strangers was made the especial care of Wakalana, and they soon became not only reconciled but apparently content with their situation. But the kindness of the chief, however commendable, was not altogether unselfish. He was charmed by the bright eyes and fair face of Neleike, the sister of the captain. He found pleasure that was new to him in teaching her to speak his language, and almost the first use she made of oia was to say ‘yes’ with it when he asked her to become his wife. Her marriage was followed by that of Malaea to a native chief, and of her brother and his two male companions to native women of good family. And here, as well as anywhere, it may be mentioned that, through her son Alooia, Neleike became the progenitor of a family which for generations showed the marks of her blood, an the descendents of the others were plentiful thereafter, not only on Maui but in the neighborhood of Waimalo, on the island of Oahu.

From Lono and Kaikilani

Second Contact

And now, borne by the soft breath of the tropics, let us be wafted to the island of Hawaii, over a misty bridge of historic meles to the reign of Kealiiokoloa, a son of Umi and grandson of the famed Liloa. It was during his brief reign – extending perhaps from 1520-1530 – that for a second time a white face (and ship) was seen by the Hawaiians. A Spanish vessel from the Moluccas was driven upon reefs of Keei, in the district of Kona, and completely destroyed. But two person were saved from the wreck – the captain and his sister. They were first thought to be gods by the simple islanders; but as their first request was for food, which they ate with avidity, and their next for rest, which seemed to be as necessary to them as to other mortals, they were soon relieved of their celestial attributed and conducted to the king, who received them graciously and took them under his protection. The captain – named by the natives Kukanaloa – wedded a dusky maiden of good family, and the sister became the wife of a chief in whose veins ran royal blood.


Music and Dance

The musical instruments of the islanders were few and simple. They consisted of pahus, or drums, of various sizes; the ohe, a bamboo flute; the hokio, a rude clarionet; a nasal flagolet, and a reed instrument played by the aid of the voice. To these were added, on special occasions, castanets and dry gourds containing pebbles, which were used to mark the time of chants and other music. They had many varieties of dances, or hulas, all of which were more or less graceful, and a few of which were coarse. Bands of hula dancers, male and female, were among the retainers of the mois and prominent chiefs, and their services were required on every festive occasion.



The ancient Hawaiians divided the year into twelve months of thirty days each. The days of the month were names, not numbered. As this gave but three hundred and sixty days to their year, they added and gave to their god Lono in feasting and festivity the number of days required to complete the sidereal year, which was regulated by the rising of the Pleiades. The new year began with the winter solstice. They also reckoned by lunar months in the regulation of their monthly feats. The year was divided into two seasons – the rainy and the dry – and the day tine three general parts, morning, noon and night. The first, middle and after parts of the night were also designated.

They had names for the five principal planets, which they called the ‘wandering stars’ and for a number of heavenly groups and constellation. It was this knowledge of the heavens that enabled them to navigate the ocean in their frail canoes.


In counting, the Hawaiians reckoned by fours and their multiples. Their highest expressed number was four hundred thousand. More than that was indefinite.

Ancient Hawaiian Government

Previous to the eleventh century the several habitable islands of the Hawaiian group were governed by one or more independent chiefs. After the migratory influx of that period, and the settlement on the islands of a number of warlike southern chiefs and their followers, the independent chiefs began to unite for mutual protection. This involved the necessity of a supreme head, which was usually found in the chief conceded to be the most powerful; and thus alii-nuis, mois and kings sprang into existence.

So far as tradition extends, certain lines, such as the Maweke, Pili and Paumaukua families, were always considered to be of supreme blood. They came to the islands as chiefs of distinguished lineage, and so remained.

Gradually the powers of the mois and ruling chiefs were enlarged, until at length they claimed almost everything. Then the chiefs held their possessions in fief to the moi, and forfeited them by rebellion. In time the king became absolute master of the soil over which he ruled, and assumed tabu rights which rendered his person sacred and his prerogatives more secure. All he acquired by contest was his, and by partitioning the lands among his titled friends he secured the support necessary to his maintenance of power. Certain lands were inalienable both in chiefly families and the priesthood; they were made so by early sovereign decrees, which continued to be respected; but with each succeeding king important land changes usually occurred.

Although the king maintained fishponds and cultivated lands of his own, he was largely supported by his subject chiefs. They were expected to contribute to him whatever was demanded either of food, raiment, houses, canoes, weapons or labor, and in turn they took such portions of the products of their tenants as their necessities required. The ili was the smallest political divisions; next above was the ahapuaa, which paid a nominal or special tax of one hog monthly to the king; next the okana, embracing several ahapuaas; and finally the moku, or district, or island.

The laboring classes possessed no realty of their own, nor could they anywhere escape the claim or jurisdiction of a chief or landlord. They owed military and other personal service to their respective chiefs, and the chiefs owed theirs to the king. If required, all were expected to respond to a call to the field, fully armed and prepared for battle.

Caste rules of dress, ornamentation and social forms were rigidly enforced. The entire people were divided into four general classes: first, the alii, or chiefly families, of various grades and prerogatives; second, the kahunas, embracing priests, prophets, doctors, diviners and astrologers; third, the kanaka-wale, or free private citizens; and fourth, the kauwapmaoli, or slaves either captured in war or born of slave parents.

The laws were few and simple, and most of them referred to the rights and prerogatives of the king, priesthood and nobility. Property disputes of the masses were settled by the chiefs, and other grievances were in most instances left to private redress, which frequently and very naturally resulted in prolonged and fatal family feuds, in the end requiring chiefly and sometimes royal intervention.

This, in brief and very general terms, was the prevailing character of the government and land tenure throughout the several islands of the group until after the death of Kamehameha I in 1819, and the relinquishment of the crown of its ancient and sovereign rights in the soil.

General Retrospect

The legends following are of a group of sunny islands almost midway between Asia and America – a cluster of volcanic craters and coral-reefs, where the mountains are mantled in perpetual green and look down upon valleys of eternal spring; where for two-thirds of the year the trade-winds, sweeping down from the northwest coast of America and softened by their passage southward, dally with the stately cocoas and spreading palms, and mingle their cooling breath with the ever-living fragrance of fruit and blossom.

Deeply embosomed in the silent wastes of the broad Pacific, with no habitable land nearer than two thousand miles, these islands greet the eye of the approaching mariner like a shadowy paradise, suddenly lifted from the blue depths by malicious spirits of the world of waters, either to lure him to his destruction or disappear as he drops anchor by the enchanted shore.

The legends are of a little archipelago which was unknown to the civilized world until the losing years of the last century, and of a people who for many centuries exchanged no word or product with the rest of mankind; who had lost all knowledge, save the little retained by the dreamiest of legends, of the great world beyond their island home; whose chiefs and priests claimed kinship with the gods and step by step told back their lineage” to origins mirrored in the Christian bible, complete with the great flood and expulsion from Paradise.

These ancient ones were people “ fought without shields and went to their death without fear; whose implements of war and industry were of wood, stone and bone, yet who erected great temples to their gods, constructed barges and canoes which they navigated by the stars; who peopled the elements with spirits, reverenced the priesthood, bowed to the revelations of the prophets, and submitted with our complaint to the oppressions of the tabu.” They “built places of refuge, and held sacred the religious legends of the priests and chronological meles of the chiefs.”

“ As the mind reverts to the past of the Hawaiian group, and dwells for a moment on the shadowy history of its people, mighty forms rise and disappear – men of the stature of eight or nine feet, crowned with helmets of feathers and bearing spears thirty feet in length. Such men are Kiha, and Liloa, and Umi, and Lono, all kings of Hawaii during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; and little less in bulk and none he less in valor was the great Kamehameha, who conquered and consolidated the several islands under one government, and died as late as 1819. And beside Umi, whose life was a romance, stands his humble friend Maukaleoleo, who, with his feet upon the ground, could reach the cocoanuts of standing trees; and back of him in the past is seen Kana, the son of Hina, whose height was measured by paces.

And, glancing still farther backward through the centuries we behold the adventurous chiefs, in barges and double canoes a hundred feet in length, making the journey between the Hawaiian and more southern groups, guided only by the sun and stars. Later we see battles, with dusky thousands in line. The warriors are naked to the loins, and are armed with spears, slings, clubs, battle-axes, javelins and knives of wood or ivory. They have neither bows nor shields. They either catch with their hands are ward with their own the weapons that are thrown. Their chiefs, towering above them in stature, have thrown off their gaudy feathered cloaks and helmets, and, with spear and stone halberd, are at the front of battle. In the rear of each hostile line area large number of women with calabashes of food and water with which to refresh their battling fathers, husbands and brothers. While the battle rages, their wails, cries, and prayers are incessant, and when defeat menaces their friends they here and there take part in combat.

Far back in the past we see the beautiful Hina, abducted from her Hawaiian husband by the prince of Molokai, and kept a prisoner in the fortress of Haapu until her sons grow to manhood, when she is rescued at the end of an assault which leaves the last of her defenders dead. Later we see the eight hundred helmeted chiefs of the king o Hawaii, all of noble blood, hurling themselves to destruction against the spears of the armies of Maui on the plains of Wailuku. And then, less than a generation after, Kamehameha is seen in the last battle of the conquest, when, at the head of sixteen thousand warriors, he sweeps the Oahuan army over the precipice of Nuuanu and becomes maser of the archipelago. Finally, we behold Kekuaokalani, the last defender in arms of the Hawaiian gods and temples, trampling upon the edict of the king against the worship of his fathers, and dying, with his faithful wife Manono, on the field of Kuamoo.

In the midst of these scenes of blood the eye rests with relief upon the numerous episodes of love, friendship and self-sacrifice touching with a softening color the ruddy canvas of the past. We see Kanipahu, the exiled king of Hawaii, delving like a common laborer on a neighboring island, and refusing to accept anew the scepter in his old age because his back has become crooked with toil and he could no longer look over the heads of his subjects as became a Hawaiian king. We see Umi, a rustic youth of royal mien and mighty proportions, boldly leap the palace-walls of he great Liloa, push aside the spears of the guards, enter the royal mansion, seat himself in the lap of the king, and through the exhibitions of a forgotten token of love receive instant recognition as his son. And now Lono, the royal grandson of Umi, rises before us, and we see him lured from self-exile by the voice of his queen, reaching him in secret form without the walls of the sovereign court of Oahu, to return to Hawaii and triumph over his enemies. These and many other romantic incidents present themselves in connection with the early Hawaiian kings and prince, and are offered in the succeeding pages with every detail of interest afforded by available tradition.

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