Historic Sites: Big Island, Hawai’i – Part 1


A lot of people go to Hawai’i and lounge on the beach or snorkel in the crystal clear waters. I, on the other hand, spent my time visiting historical and cultural sites. Here are some of those sites from my trip to the Big Island in 2014.


Mo’okini Heiau

In order to get to Mo’okini Heiau, you either have to have a vehicle that can traverse very a rough road or walk two miles along ‘Upolu Point Road (park near ‘Upolu Airport).

Mo'okini Heiau 1
The Haleakala side of Maui from ‘Upolu Airport, (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Mo'okini Heiau 2
‘Upolu Point Road, (c) Alexandria Brown 2014

It is believed that Mo’okini Heiau was constructed by a Taitian kahuna named Pa’ao between the 10th and 14th centuries, but may have been built as early as AD 480 by kahuna nui Kuamo’o Mo’okini. His direct descendants still care for the land today. Mo’okini Heiau was home to the god Ku.

Mo'okini Heiau 6
The ali’i nui shelter was once an enclosed structure made of ohi’a wood and pili grass. This was where ali’i (chiefs) worshipped, fasted, and prepared to offer human sacrifices. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Mo'okini Heiau 7
Parts of the walls are 30 ft high, 267 ft long, and 37 ft wide, and are made using unmortared basalt ‘ala stones. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Mo'okini Heiau 8
The Pohaku Holehole Kanaka (stone for stripping human flesh) in the luakini heiau, or temple of human sacrifice. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Mo'okini Heiau 5
The scallop-shaped altar in Mo’okini Heiau was a signature design by Pa’ao. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Mo'okini Heiau 4
Kapakai, Kokoiki, the birthplace of Kalani Pai’ea Wohi o Kaleikini Keali’ikui Kamehameha o ‘Iolani I Kaiwikapu Kaui Ka Liholiho Kaniakea (aka Kamehameha I). (c) Alexandria Brown 2014


Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Park

Kapoukahi, a kahuna from Kauaʻi prophesied that the war between Kamehameha, Keoua Ku’ahu‘ula, and Keawemauhili over control of the Big Island would end if Kamehameha built a luakini heiau. It took thousands of men a year to construct it, moving one rock at a time from Pololū Valley, 14 miles away, in a human chain. Construction was completed in 1791. After the Battle of Nuʻuanu on Oʻahu in 1795, Kamehameha united the islands under his rule.

Pu'ukohola Heiau 2
The heiau was built to appeal to the war god Kūkaʻilimoku. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Pu'ukohola Heiau 1
Mailekini Heiau below Pu’ukohola Heiau. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Pu'ukohola Heiau 3
Pu’ukohola Heiau. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014


Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park

This place was a safe haven for kapu breakers, defeated warriors, and refugees. Keaweikehahiali’iokamoku and Queen Ka’ahumanu, the great-grandfather and favorite wife of Kamehameha I, respectively, lived here in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau 2
The wall around the pu’uhonua, built ca. AD 1550, is 10 ft tall, 7 ft wide, 1000 ft long, and has no mortar. (c) Alexandria Brown 2014
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau 1
Reconstructed Hale o Keawe Heiau, (c) Alexandria Brown 2014


Punalu’u Beach

Punalu’u Nui Heiau (aka Kane’ele’ele, Halelau, and Maile’kini) was the luakini (human sacrifice temple) for the district. It’s believed to have been constructed sometime between 600 AD and 1200 AD.

Punalu'u Beach 1
(c) Alexandria Brown 2014

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