Ahu’ena Heiau

5 03 2016


Ahu’ena Heiau was site of the Capital of Hawai’i from 1812 -1819.

King Kamehameha built Ahu’ena Heiau as his personal temple to Lono, the god of peace and prosperity. It was much larger in scale to what has been rebuilt and is on display today.

From the book Ancient Sites of Hawai’i by Van James:

“The name Aheu’ena means “hill of fire” or “red hot heap” and its is the fite of a fifteenth century heiau luakini.”

“The restored heiau has a hard hale mana (place of psiritual powers), a wicker lele (alter), an ‘anu’u tower and several wooden ki’i (carved figures). The carved images with the plover bird on its head is the god of war. A sacred drum called Apahou, decorated with human teeth, was house here at Ahu”ene. Pigs, bananas, coconuts, and men were offered as sacrifices at luankini heiau. ”

From the book Exploring Lost Hawaii by Ellie and William Crowe:

“Kamehameha the Great appreciated the ocean view. He made his fanial home at this pretty cove in 1812 and maintained a permanent residence here until his death seven years later. …On May 8, 1819 Kamehameha the Great died. The kingdom was stunned and grief striken. Some chiefs requested that they be hurried with him. many people knowcked out their fonts teeth in grief, and some tattooed the date on their bodies. The king’s bones were stripped of flesh on the mortuary platform and prepared for burial. Hoapili, a kahuna, the one of the kings most trusted ali’i , were entrusted to hide the bones. They are said to be hidden in a cave and have never been found.”

“After Kamehameha’s death, it was this heiau that his son Liholiho, reluctantly sat down with the strong willed Queen Ka’ahumanu and his gentle mother, Queen Keopuolani and ate a meal on the formal occasion. The Hawaiian people were shocked at this public act of defiance–the ancient kapu of men eating with women had been broken. But no gods retaliated, and as a result the whole kapu system was overthown.”

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Ahu’ena was carefully restored in 1975, at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars. It is a National Historic Landmark that can be easily approached from the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel, 75-5660 Palani Road, Kailua-Kona and there are daily guided tours offered, call 808-329-2911 or you can wander the grounds on your own.





Ancient Hawaiian Villages

20 12 2015

A traditional village of ancient Hawaiʻi included several structures. Listed in order of importance:

Heiau, temple to the gods, built on high-rising stone terraces. Sometimes adorned with wood and stone carved idols. A source of great mana or divine power, the heiau was restricted to aliʻi, the king and kahuna.

Kealakekua Bay Heiau

Hale aliʻi, the house of the chief. It was used as a residence for the high chief and meeting house of the lesser chiefs. It was always built on a raised stone foundation to represent high social standing. Kahili, or feather standards, were placed outside to signify royalty. Women and children were banned from entering.

Hale pahu, the house of the sacred hula instruments. It held the pahu drums. It was treated as a religious space as hula was a religious activity in honor of the goddess Laka.

Hale papaʻa, the house of royal storage. It was built to store royal implements including fabrics, prized nets and lines, clubs, spears and other weapons.

Hale ulana, the house of the weaver. It was the house where craftswomen would gather each day to manufacture the village baskets, fans, mats and other implements from dried pandanus leaves called lauhala.

Hale mua, the men’s eating house. It was considered a sacred place because it was used to carve stone idols of ʻaumakua or ancestral gods. Men and women could not eat with each other for fear that men were vulnerable while eating to have their mana, or divine spirit, stolen by women. Women ate at their own separate eating house called the hale ʻaina.

Hale waʻa, the house of the canoe. It was built along the beaches as a shelter for their fishing vessels. Hawaiians also stored koa or mahogany logs used to craft the canoes.

Hale lawaiʻa, the house of fishing. It was built along the beaches as a shelter for their fishing nets and lines. Nets and lines were made by a tough rope fashioned from woven coconut husks. Fish hooks were made of human, pig or dog bone. Implements found in the hale lawaiʻa were some of the most prized possessions of the entire village.

Hale noho, the living house. It was built as sleeping and living quarters for the Hawaiian family unit.

Imu, the communal earth oven. Dug in the ground, it was used to cook the entire village’s food including puaʻa or pork. Only men cooked using the imu.





Some Favorite Big Island Places

20 10 2015


Like the name states, the Big Island is big. People come to the island of Hawaii and think they can see it all in a week, take my word for it you can’t possibly.

You can however see some highlights and explore the vast natural world and find places that are not overrun by people by getting  a tad off the beaten track. If you pack some decent walking shoes you can go many places and find yourself away from most tourists who go to the same spots and take the same photos.

Greenwell Farm’s Living History Display

Portuguese Sweet Bread hot from the wood fired oven Thursdays 10-1

Exploring the natural world of Hawaii is a highlight and part of that is visiting some of the sacred ancient sites too. These photos portray a few of my favorite places on the Big Island some of which long time island residents we know have yet to visit. Enjoy!

Mahukona a old sugar depot on the north shore

Ancient Heiau by Spencer Park





Respecting Hawaii

2 06 2015

Many visitors that come to Hawaii love the weather, to bask in their holiday time, but forget to explore the richly lived past of the Ancient Hawaiians.

For a more rich experience while visiting the magical Big Island take a walk on the King’s Trail, check out the petroglyphs, visit a heiau, and imagine yourself on the island before all the shoreline development and increased population pressures of modern life today.
Puukohola Heiau National Historical Site
Painting by Herb Kawainui Kane

The massive ruins of Puukohola Heiau are an impressive sight. The founding of the Hawaiian kingdom can be directly associated with one structure in the Hawaiian Islands: Pu’ukohola Heiau.

The temple was constructed to incur the favor of the war god Kuka’ilimoku. Built between 1790-91 by Kamehameha I (also known as Kamehameha the Great), together with chiefs, commoners, men, women and children. As British sailor John Young looked on, the temple was built and dedicated, a chief rival was sacrificed, and the war god Ku was pleased. Kamehameha I waged several subsequent battles using Western military strategy and weapons to extend his control over all Hawaiian Islands. The monarchy he established lasted 83 years, from 1810-1893.

Visit the Lapakahi State Historical Park up the Kohala Coast and walk among the ancient site.

Lapakahi State Historical Park is the archaeological site of what remains of a traditional 14th century Hawaiian fishing community. Lapakahi is one of the best-preserved fishing village in Hawaii. A self-guided tour takes visitors to house sites and a canoe halau (long house); runs through a game area where visitors can try spear throwing, ‘ulu maika (disc rolling) and konane (checkers); and leads to a fishing shrine and salt pans along the rocky shoreline.

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Explore the early Hawaiian life of the common people through cultural demonstrations of daily activities, story telling, and self-guided one mile loop walk through the partially restored remains of this ancient Hawaiian coastal settlement. Wear decent shoes and go early if you want to beat the heat, it’s a dry part of the island. This 265-acre park is located along the shoreline of the Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation District. The nearby ocean waters comprise a marine preserve with various activities regulated but great snorkeling. Park gate is open from 7 a.m. to closes promptly at 4 p.m.

Take this the site to heart and you will be transported back to earlier times allowing you to reflect upon the Hawaiian first people.

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Hawaii is lovely place, respect the past by treating the island with a reverence for it heritage is a part of being a responsible visitor to the islands. Get out and walk and explore. Pick up any trash you find and remember to live the Aloha Spirit.





Ka Lae, The Point

17 03 2015

Ka Lae is accessible via South Point Road, a 12 mile paved narrow road leading from State Route 11 (Hawai’i Belt Road), the turn off being about 7 miles west of the village of ʻālehu and east of Ocean View, Hawaii This is said to be the first place the Ancients arrived in Hawai’i.

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If you look carefully along the shore you can see holes in some of the lava rocks that were used for mooring, carved holes from ancient times. Kai Lae, means “the point” and there is a fishing shrine there known Kalalea Heiau or Hale o Kalalea. Because there was so much comings and goings offerings were left in this area as thanks for the safe ocean journeys. Women were not allowed (kapu).

You can still see this small 43x 35 foot heiau according to the terrific book Ancient Sites of Hawaii by Van James: “On the main platforms in a pōhaku called Kūmaiea (female), but also attributed to Kāne and on the smaller platform just mauku is another upright store called Kanemakua (male), associated with the god Kanaloa. Standing twelve feet to the north of the heiau are two more stones, the northerly one called “Ai’ai, the son of Kū’ula. Within the heiau, beside the mauka wall, is a rock called Kū’ula, the god of fishermen. Hina, the wife of Kū’ula is said to live in the sea cave just offshore from the Kalalea Heaiau.”

Please buy this fine book from you local bookseller in its revised edition for additional information about visiting this magical place. Swimming in this area is not recommended because of the intense current it is called the “Halaea Current” named after the chief who was carried off to his death. Beware!





Marquesans: Why Did They Come to Hawaii?

20 02 2015

There are many different theories about why the people of the Marquesas Island people came to Hawaii.  Some believe that it is war, a severe climate or lack of resources forced them to leave their home land. Other believe that they arrived in search of better fishing grounds as they tended to fish way out at sea. It is thought that the first group of Marquesans arrived  in Hawaiian Islands about A.D. 447 settling in Waimanalo, O’hau at Bellows Beach on the windward side of the island.





Don’t Miss the Ancient Puako Petroglyphs- K’i’i pohaku

10 01 2015

Ancient Hawaiians called their stone art k’i’i pohaku, or images in stone. The k’i’i pohaku are commonly referred to as petroglyphs, this comes from the greek words, “petros” for rock and “glyphein” to carve. The largest concentration of petroglyphs in the Pacific lies within the 233-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological District.

This preserve is part of one of the most extensive petroglyph fields in the Hawaiian archipelago. Once difficult to get to, this area is now easily reached via the Mauna Lani Resort. The walk will take you through a kiawe forest and takes about 20 minutes. It can be a hot spot so go early or late but not in the mid-day sun. The rock etchings are scattered throughout an old pahoehoe lava flow.

There are more than 3,000 petroglyphs of all different designs – families; Hawaiian tools; fish; chiefs; fishermen; paddlers and more. . You will see among the ki’i pohaku (petroglyphs), the piko stones used by the Hawaiians to encase their newborns’ umbilical cords in a rite designed to give the child mana (power) and long life. About 80% of the images are cupules or holes, which were used as depositories for umbilical cords at the birth of a child to assure long life. They are also believed to represent the recorded passage of individuals, families or troops, further indicated by circles and semi circles, as well as distinguishing between the people and the Ali’i (royalty). Other images include anthropomorphs, human representations in the form of paddlers, fishermen, runners, surfers, marchers, warriors and chiefs, and also canoes, sails, animals, tools and numerous symbolic geometrics.

The first Hawaiians arrived from the Marquesas Islands as early as 750 AD, and may have brought some of the carving designs with them. All petroglyphs are constantly being eroded by the environment, so physical contact is prohibited to prevent an increased rate of deterioration.

Carved into Pahoehoe lava, these petroglyphs are protected as National Treasures and are an enigma of the Pacific. This site is an outdoor museum, these are ancient treasures; do not touch or damage them. It is likely that many of these petroglyphs were made sometime between A.D. 1000-1800 but their exact age is unknown. The petroglyphs are fragile and can be easily damaged or destroyed – please take every precaution respect and preserve this Hawaiian cultural treasure site.

 Turn Left onto Hwy 19 & go 23.8 miles to entrance for Mauna Lani Resort (left side – between Mile Marker 74 & 73)

  • Turn Left at Mauna Lani Drive & go 1.1 mile to traffic circle
  • Enter Traffic Circle and take first right turn (North Kaniku Drive)
  • Go 0.8 mile on North Kaniku Drive to sign for Holoholokai Beach (right side)
  • Turn Right at sign & go 0.4 mile to beach parking lot
  • The path to the petroglyphs is at the entrance to the parking lot (right side)
  • Note: Open daily 6:30 AM -6:30 pm, restrooms. The trail to the Petroglyph Exhibit is wheelchair accessible.