S. W. Kahiolo contributed the tradition of Kamapua‘a to the native newspaper Ka Hae Hawaii in 1861.1 This is the earliest detailed account of Kamapua‘a, a multi-formed deity of traditional significance on O‘ahu, and all the major islands of the Hawaiian group. The Hawaiian deity Kamapua‘a is a part of the Lono god-force, and possessed many body forms, or kinolau, representing both human and various facets of nature. He was born in pig form to mother Hina and father Kahiki‘ula, and was raised at Kaluanui in the Ko‘olau loa District of O‘ahu.
Excerpts from “He Moolelo no Kamapuaa” provide details on places of traditional cultural significance in the ‘Ewa District. This mo‘olelo offers traditions associated with traditional importance and uses of named localities in Honouliuli and vicinity.
When the chief Olopana was killed, the island of Oahu became Kamapuaa’s. He then fetched his people (who he had hidden) from above Kaliuwaa and brought them down, and they then returned to their lands. The priest (Lonoawohi) asked Kamapuaa if he could be given some lands for his own as well. He asked, “Perhaps the water lands might be mine.” Kamapuaa agreed. This was something like a riddle that the lands which have the word “water” (wai) in their names would be his, like: Waialua, Waianae, Waimanalo, Waikele, Waipio, Waiawa, Waimano, Waimalu, Waikiki, Waialae, Wailupe, Waimanalo 2, Waihee, Waiahole and etc.
The parents of Kamapuaa, Hina and Kahikiula, thought that this amount of land was too great, and they criticized Kamapuaa for agreeing to it. But his elder siblings and grandmother did not criticize him, agreeing to the priest’s request. The remainder of the lands went to Kamapuaa’s family.2
Following a journey to Hawai‘i, where Kamapuaa fought with Pele, he returned to O‘ahu. Upon arriving at O‘ahu, Kamapuaa learned that the island was under the rule of another chief, that his parents had been chased to Kaua‘i, and that his favorite brother Kekeleiaiku had been killed. The following excerpts include accounts describing sites and activities in ‘Ewa.
Kamapuaa walked to Keanapuaa, on the shore at Halawa, and he slept there. When he woke up from his sleep, he urinated in the sea, and that is why the fish of Puuloa have a strong smell to them, so say the uninformed.
From there, he went to Honouliuli and saw his grandmother, Kamauluaniho, sitting along the side of a taro pond field. She was looking with desire to the lands below, where some of the men of the king were working, and wishing that they would leave even a little bit of taro behind for her to eat. Kamapuaa then went and stood next to her, and greeted her. She replied, greeting him, but did not recognize him as her grandson. He then asked her why she was sitting there. She told him, “I am looking to the lowlands, where the men of the chief are working, and wishing that they would leave a little behind so that I may have some food.” Kamapuaa then said to his grandmother, “How did you live before?”
She answered, “What is it to you? My grandchildren have died, one in a battle with Pele, another buried, and one on Kauai.” This is how she spoke, not understanding that the one before her was her own grandson. Kamapuaa then answered, “I am going to get some food for me.” She asked, “Where will you get your food?” He told her, “I will go and perhaps ask for some, and maybe they will give me some of their food.”3 Kamapuaa went and said to one of the men who was pulling taro, “Let the two of us pull taro for us.” The man agreed, and the two of them pulled taro, some for the man and some for Kamapuaa. Kamapuaa pulled a large quantity and then carried it up to his grandmother. Because of the large load that he carried, Kamauluaniho suspected that the man was indeed her own grandson, Kamapuaa. She chanted a name song to Kamapuaa and he chanted to her as well. Together, they carried the taro to the house she shared with another old woman, at Puuokapolei. Setting down their bundles of taro, Kamauluaniho placed Kamapuaa on her lap and wept over him. The two were joined by the other old woman and she was introduced to Kamapuaa, who she thought had been lost. Preparations were made for a meal, and Kamapuaa and the old woman went out to her garden to collect sweet potatoes. They then returned to the house and ate.4
Kamapuaa went to Nuuanu and performed a ceremony, bringing his brother, Kekeleiaiku, back to life. He then traveled to Kou where he killed the chiefs and people who had killed his brother, and forced his family into their lives of despair . . . Returning from Kou, Kamapuaa met his friend Kuolohele and the two of them walked from Moanalua. They reached Waiawa and continued on to Waipahu. Standing on the edge of the stream there, Kuolohele went to bath[e] in the stream. Kamapuaa noticed that Kuolohele had a large lump (puu) on his back. Picking up a stone, Kamapuaa struck the lump on Kuolohele’s back.
Kuolohele cried out, thinking that he was about to be killed. Kamapuaa reassured him that he was not going to die, but that instead, he would be healed. He then instructed Kuolohele to touch his back. In doing so, Kuolohele found that the lump was gone.
Kamapuaa then picked up the stone and set it on the cliff-side. That stone remains there at this time, and it is a stone which many travelers visit5… Kuolohele and Kamapuaa continued traveling together for a short distance, until Kuolohele reached his destination. Kamapuaa continued to Puuokapolei, where he met with his grandmother and brother. He told them what had transpired, and he then set off for Kauai, to bring his parents back to Oahu.6
1The original Hawaiian texts may be viewed in the Hawaiian digital library at http://www.ulukau.org/.
2G. W. Kahiolo, “He Moolelo no Kamapuaa,” Ka Hae Hawaii, July 10, 1861.
3Ibid., August 7, 1861.
4Ibid., August 14, 1861
5The stone is named Kuolohele.
6Ibid., August 21–28, 1861.