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Keōpūolani (the gathering of the clouds of heaven) was the highest ranking chief of the ruling family in the kingdom during her lifetime.
Her name given at birth was Kalanikauikaalaneo (the heavens hanging cloudless;) she was often called by other names, as Kai (the sea,) and Makuahanaukama (the mother of many children.)
She was aliʻi kapu of nī‘aupi‘o (high-born – offspring of the marriage of a high-born brother and sister or half-brother and half-sister) rank, which she inherited from her mother, Keku‘iapoiwa Liliha and her father Kiwalaʻo.
Her ancestors on her mother’s side were ruling chiefs of Maui; her ancestors on her father’s side were the ruling chiefs of the island of Hawai‘i. Keōpūolani’s genealogy traced back to Ulu, who descended from Hulihonua and Keakahulilani, the first man and woman created by the gods.
Keōpūolani was reared under strict kapu because she was sacred; her kapu were equal to those of the gods. She possessed kapu moe, which meant that those who were in her presence had to prostrate themselves, face down, for it was forbidden to look at her.
At certain seasons, no person was allowed to see her. In her childhood and early adulthood, she never walked out during daylight hours. The sun was not permitted to shine upon her, so she chose to be among people at night.
Keōpūolani was with Kalola (her grandmother, Kiwala‘o’s mother) on the Island of Hawai‘i, when Kamehameha started his conquest to conquer the islands; victory at the battle of Moku‘ohai, there (with the death of Kiwalaʻo (Keōpūolani’s father,) was the start of Kamehameha’s rise to power.
Kalola, her daughters and her granddaughter (Keōpūolani) fled to Maui, to take refuge with Kalola’s brother, Kahekili, and his son, Kalanikūpule.
Then, Kamehameha stormed Maui with thousands of men, and after several battles Maui troops retreated to ʻIao Valley; Kamehameha was victorious there, too. Kalola escaped through the Olowalu Pass and down to Olowalu, where she retreated to Moloka’i. On the island of Molokaʻi Kalola became ill.
Kamehameha followed Kalola to Moloka‘i and made a “request that she (Kalola) should confide her daughters and granddaughter to his care and protection. To which Kalola is said to have replied, ‘When I am dead, my daughters and granddaughter shall be yours.’” (Fornander)
Kamehameha camped on Moloka‘i until Kalola died. This “capture” of the women by Kamehameha, a conquering chief taking the widow and female relatives of his defeated rival, was politically important.
Keōpūolani usually resided with Kamehameha at Kailua-Kona. This, however, was not their constant dwelling place, although it was a favorite one.
Aliʻi typically had multiple homes and divided their time between the different places of importance. Keōpūolani spent part of her time at Hawai‘i, part at Maui, part at Oʻahu and part at Kaua‘i.
In 1797, she gave birth to a son, Liholiho. Kamehameha wanted Keōpūolani to go to Oʻahu, to Kūkaniloko, a famous birthing site and heiau (temple,) however, she was too ill to travel, and gave birth to their first-born child in Hilo.
Kauikeaouli, her second son, was born in Keauhou, North Kona. She named him after her father, Kalanikauikeaouli Kiwalaʻo.
The following year, her daughter, Nahi‘ena‘ena, was born.
Kamehameha allowed Keōpūolani to have other husbands after she gave birth to his children, a practice common among ali‘i women (except Ka‘ahumanu.) Kalanimoku and Hoapili were her other husbands.
Kamehameha I died in 1819, his son, Liholiho became King. Shortly after that, Ka‘ahumanu and Keōpūolani (wives of Kamehameha I) joined in convincing Liholiho to break the kapu system which had been the rigid code of Hawaiians for centuries.
Liholiho accomplished this simply by eating a meal with women. When the Hawaiians saw that Liholiho was not struck down by angry gods, the entire kapu system was discarded. Likewise, the kapu moe ended at this time, as well.
Missionaries then arrived in Hawai‘i in 1820. The Christian religion really caught on when High Chiefess Keōpūolani became interested and impressed with the Missionaries and the message they brought.
Keōpūolani was spoken of “with admiration on account of her amiable temper and mild behavior,” said William Richards, a missionary in the islands.
Keōpūolani is said to have been the first convert of the missionaries in the islands, receiving baptism from Rev. William Ellis in Lāhainā on September 16, 1823. She was ill and died shortly after her baptism.
She was granted her request to be buried in a royal tomb, and lays in the Waiola Cemetery in Lāhainā, Maui.
(Much of this information is from Mookini, “Keōpūolani, Sacred Wife, Queen Mother, 1778-1823.) In addition to this image, I have included some other images related to Keōpuōlani in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
The influence on the culture of Hawai‘i attributed to the high priest Pā‘ao is so great that it seems appropriate to take a closer look.
Since ancient Hawai‘i did not have written records and had only a spoken language, exact historical accounts are uncertain.
Fornander writes that prior to the period of Pā‘ao “… the kapus (forbidden actions) were few and the ceremonials easy; that human sacrifices were not practiced, and cannibalism unknown; and that government was more of a patriarchal than of a regal nature.”
Pā‘ao is said to have been a priest, as well as a chief and navigator, who arrived in the island of Hawai‘i as early as in the twelfth or thirteenth century (many say he was from Tahiti.)
Pā‘ao is reported to have introduced (or, at least expanded upon) a religious and political code in old Hawai`i, collectively called the kapu system. This forbid many things and demanded many more, with many infractions being punishable by death.
Pā‘ao’s period saw a greater rigidity of the kapus, the introduction of human sacrifices, “the hardening and confirming of the divisions of society, the exaltation of the nobles and the increase of their prerogatives, the separation and immunity of the priestly order, and the systematic setting down, if not actual debasement, of the commoners”.
Many believe the expansion and rigidity of the kapu were established as a result of the migrations from Tahiti and elsewhere, (and with the arrival of Pā‘ao,) bringing to Hawai‘i a system of laws and rituals protecting the mana (spiritual power or energy) which existed in all living things.
In establishing this strict religious system, Pā‘ao also introduced the custom of kapuō (prostration before kapu chiefs,) the pūloʻuloʻu (sign of kapu) and the walled heiau (previously, heiau had been open courtyards.)
He introduced several changes to Hawaiian religious practices and social structure that affected temple construction, priestly ritual and worship practices.
The large sacrificial government war temples, luakini heiau, contained altars where human lives were taken when assurance of success in combat was requested or when there was a very grave state emergency, such as pestilence or famine.
Prior to the Pā‘ao’s arrival, the Hawaiians worshipped unseen deities. Reportedly, Pāʻao provided the people with something tangible to worship, through the introduction of wooden temple images as representations of the gods.
These images were not worshipped as gods themselves, but it was thought that the mana or spirit of a god would occupy the carved statue and could be consulted in times of need.
Many things were kapu under Hawaiian culture.
Anything connected with the gods and their worship was considered sacred, such as idols, heiau and priests. Because chiefs were believed to be descendants of the gods, many kapu related to chiefs and their personal possessions, such as clothes, mats and houses.
Certain objects were also kapu, and to be avoided, either because they were sacred or because they were defiling. Seasons and places could also be declared kapu.
Certain religious kapu were permanent and unchangeable, relating to customary rites, observances, ceremonies and methods of worship, and to the maintenance of the gods and their priests.
Likewise, Pā‘ao reportedly initiated a lineage of kings, starting with Pili Ka‘aiea (the 1st “Aliʻi ʻAimoku” for the Big Island – the first ruler (sometimes called the “king”) of the island.)
The descendants of this king ruled the island of Hawai‘i until 1893, while Pā‘ao himself became the high priest of an order which he established and which continued until 1819.
The form of the heiau was changed by Pā‘ao and his successors, and the general population mingled less freely in the ceremonies of sacrifice and other forms of worship. The high-priesthood became more mysterious and exclusive.
This intricate system that supported Hawaiʻi’s social and political organization directed every activity of Hawaiian life, from birth through death, until its abolition by King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) in 1819.
The image shows Moʻokini Heiau in North Kohala; it is believed Pā‘ao built or greatly expanded this luakini heiau.
Rum is a beverage that seems to have had its origins on the 17th century Caribbean sugarcane plantations and by the 18th century its popularity had spread throughout world.
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane byproducts such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation; it is then usually aged in oak barrels.
The origin of the word “rum” is generally unclear. In an 1824 essay about the word’s origin, Samuel Morewood suggested the word ‘rum’ might be from the British slang term for “the best”, as in “having a rum time.”
“As spirits, extracted from molasses, could not well be ranked under the name whiskey, brandy, or arrack, it would be called rum, to denote its excellence or superior quality.” (Samuel Morewood, 1824)
Captain James Cook and the crews of the HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery first made landfall on Kauaʻi in 1778. It is believed that in the holds of both ships were barrels of rum.
According to Kamakau, “The first taste that Kamehameha and his people had of rum was at Kailua in 1791 or perhaps a little earlier, brought in by Captain Maxwell. Kamehameha went out to the ship with (John) Young and (Isaac) Davis when it was sighted off Keāhole Point and there they all drank rum. …. Then nothing would do but Ka-lani-moku must get some of this sparkling water, and he was the first chief to buy rum.”
Shortly thereafter, while in Waikīkī, after having tasted the “dancing water,” Kamehameha I gained the apparent honor of having spread the making of rum from Oʻahu to Hawaiʻi island. (Kanahele)
After he saw a foreigner make rum in Honolulu, he set up his own still. Spurred by his own appetite for rum, he soon made rum drinking common among chiefs and chiefesses as well as commoners. (Kanahele)
Many of the subsequent royalty and chiefs also drank alcoholic beverages (several overindulged.)
Within a decade or so, Island residents were producing liquor on a commercial basis. “It was while Kamehameha was on Oahu that rum was first distilled in the Hawaiian group,” wrote Kamakau. “In 1809 rum was being distilled by the well-known foreigner, Oliver Holmes, at Kewalo, and later he and David Laho-loa distilled rum at Makaho.” Several small distilleries were in operation by the 1820s.
Although both Hawaiians and foreign residents had been drinking hard liquor – either bought from visiting ships or distilled locally – for many years, no mention of bars or saloons occurs in the historical record.
However, by November 1822, Honolulu had seventeen grog shops operated by foreigners. Drinking places were one of the earliest types of retail business established in the Islands.
Whalers – primarily American vessels – began arriving in Hawai’i in the early 19th century; they were hunting whales primarily for the whale oil for heating, lamps and in industrial machinery; they usually stopped as they crossed the Pacific twice a year to restock provisions, replenish their crews and transship their whale oil cargoes.
For Hawaiian ports, especially Honolulu and Lāhaina, the whaling fleet was the crux of the economy for 20-years or more. More than 100-ships stopped in Hawaiian ports in 1824. Over the next two decades, the Pacific whaling fleet nearly quadrupled in size and in the record year of 1846, 736-whaling ships arrived in Hawai’i.
With these ships and sailors came more rum; it became one of the sought-after items the Hawaiians traded for with the Westerners.
“For some years after the arrival of missionaries at the islands it was not uncommon in going to the enclosure of the king, or some other place of resort, to find after a previous night’s revelry, exhausted cases of ardent spirits standing exposed and the emptied bottles strewn about in confusion amidst the disgusting bodies of men, women and children lying promiscuously in the deep sleep of drunkenness.” (Dibble)
Fort Kekuanohu along Honolulu Harbor served as a jail for breaches of etiquette by sailors on liberty – disorderly sailors could find themselves lodged in the Fort pending redemption at $30 a head.
In 1874, a legislative act was passed that allowed distillation of rum on sugar plantations. According to a report in ‘The Friend,’ “the only planter in the Legislature voted three times against the passage of the Act.”
The first export of Hawaiian rum was made on May 15, 1875 – the product of Heʻeia Plantation.
The post WW II years saw new rum concoctions. Reportedly, Harry Yee invented the Blue Hawaii cocktail and dropped in a tiny Japanese parasol and Vic Bergeron created the Mai Tai and opened Trader Vic’s, America’s first theme restaurant that featured the art, decor and food of Polynesia.
Mount Gay rum from Barbados claims to be the oldest brand of rum in existence and has been producing rum on Barbados since 1703.
As part of the post-Pacific Cup sailing race, tonight we join others at Kāneʻohe Yacht Club for a Mount Gay rum party (anybody have an extra drink scrip I could have?)
Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani Keanolani Kanāhoahoa was born in Pohukaina, O‘ahu on February 9, 1826, to High Chiefess Pauahi and High Chief Kekūanāo‘a.
The Princess was a descendant of senior royal lines on a member of both the Kamehameha Dynasty and Kalākaua Dynasty, and a great granddaughter of King Kamehameha I; her half-brother was Lot Kapuāiwa (Kamehameha V.)
Her mother, Pauahi, died while giving birth to Ruth Keʻelikōlani, and was then cared for by Kamehameha’s wife, Ka‘ahumanu, who herself died six years later. The Princess was then sent to live with her father, Kekūanāoʻa, and her stepmother, Kīna‘u.
Despite the pressures to convert to Christianity, Keʻelikōlani saw value in traditional ways and retained many traditional religious practices.
Although she learned English among other subjects at the Chief’s Children’s School, she was a staunch supporter of the Hawaiian language and traditional cultural practices. People spoke to her only in Hawaiian.
She was a member of the Privy Council (1847,) the House of Nobles (1855-1857) and served as Governor of the island of Hawaiʻi (1855-1874.)
Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani inherited all of the substantial landholdings of the Kamehameha dynasty from her brother, Lot Kapuāiwa; she became the largest landowner in the islands.
She was godmother to Princess Kaʻiulani. At Kaʻiulani’s baptism, Ruth gifted 10-acres of her land in Waikīkī where Kaʻiulani’s father Archibald Cleghorn built the ʻĀinahau Estate.
Despite owning Huliheʻe Palace, a Western-style house in Kailua-Kona, she chose to live in a large, traditional grass home on the same oceanfront property.
It is interesting, therefore, that she chose to build Keōua Hale, a large, ornate mansion on her land in Honolulu.
Keōua Hale was a Victorian-style mansion, and the most expansive residence of the time; it was larger than ʻIolani Palace.
It followed the Second Empire architecture, or so-called French style of architecture, and was considered a classical Victorian-style mansion. The gas-lit interior of the mansion was celebrated for its ornate plaster work and frescoes.
Surrounded by extensive, well-kept gardens, it was characterized by mansard roof, broad lanais, from which lofty flights of steps led down into the gardens, and a large drawing-room upon the ceiling of which was emblazoned the Hawaiian coat of arms.
The house was completed in 1883; however, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani never lived in the palace. She became ill immediately after the house warming and birthday luau.
Her doctors recommended that she return to Huliheʻe, her Kailua-Kona residence, where they believed she would more quickly regain her health.
She received medical attention, but did not recover. On May 24, 1883, Keʻelikōlani died at the age of fifty-seven, in her traditional grass home in Kailua-Kona.
At her death, Keʻelikōlani’s will stated that she “give and bequeath forever to my beloved younger sister (cousin), Bernice Pauahi Bishop, all of my property, the real property and personal property from Hawaiʻi to Kauaʻi, all of said property to be hers.” (about 353,000 acres)
This established the land-base endowment for Pauahi’s subsequent formation of Kamehameha Schools at her death. Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop passed away a year later.
In 1908, the building was converted to Central Grammar School. The present buildings were opened in 1926. The school became a junior high school in 1928, an intermediate school in 1932, and a middle school in 1997. The site of Keōua Hale is now Central Middle School.
The image shows Keōua Hale. In addition, I have posted other images of the residence, as well as other images related to Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.