The ahupuaʻa of Mākaha, between Waiʻanae Ahupuaʻa to the southeast and Keaʻau Ahupua‘a to the northwest, extends from the coastline to the Waiʻanae Range.
Earliest accounts describe Mākaha as a good-sized inland settlement and a smaller coastal settlement. These accounts correlate well with a sketch drawn by Hiram Bingham in 1826 depicting only six houses along the Mākaha coastline.
Green describes Mākaha’s coastal settlement as “…restricted to a hamlet in a small grove of coconut trees on the Keaʻau side of the valley, some other scattered houses, a few coconut trees along the beach, and a brackish water pool that served as a fish pond, at the mouth of the Mākaha Stream.” (Cultural Surveys)
This stream supported traditional wetland agriculture – kalo (taro) – in pre-contact and early historic periods
Supporting this, Māhele documents note Mākaha’s primary settlement was inland where waters from Mākaha Stream could support lo‘i and kula plantings. Although there is evidence for settlement along the shore, for the most part, this was limited to scattered, isolated residents.
One of the best preserved heiau on Oʻahu is situated inland in Mākaha Valley.
It was originally built possibly as a Lono class agricultural heiau, probably around AD 1545. Unlike many other ancient religious sites, it remained intact after the Hawaiian religion was overthrown. (Apo)
Mākaha Stream, a focal point of the ahupuaʻa, gave life to the valley in both ancient and modern times. After six reconstruction phases, Kaneʻaki Heiau was transformed into the present day Luakini class structure. This final phase, imply direct reference to a paramount chief having commissioned and participated in the event, since only he/she could build such a heiau. (WaiʻanaeHawaiianStudies)
Excavation data suggests that Kaneʻaki Heiau was in major operation for centuries, beginning in AD 1545. The last phase of construction occurred during Kamehameha’s campaign to unite the islands (1795-1810.) (WaiʻanaeHawaiianStudies)
When the kapu system was overthrown, Kaneʻaki Heiau, unlike many other ancient religious sites, remained intact. In time, two restoration projects (one from 1969-70 and the other from 1996-97) were completed in order to retain the physical, spiritual and historical aspects of Kaneʻaki Heiau. (WaiʻanaeHawaiianStudies)
Nearby is a huge stone, “Pohaku O Kāne” (Stone of Kāne). This is one of the forms of the god Kāne, the uppermost of the four major gods, was worshipped by the many ʻohana that lived that ahupua’a. In modern times, it has come to be regarded as the guardian over the heiau and is still venerated by some people. (WaiʻanaeHawaiianStudies)
Earlier restoration was completed in 1970. A terrace and platform temple was first constructed on this site about 1545. It underwent six alterations, becoming ever larger and more sophisticated. (NPS)
Tradition says that in 1795 Kamehameha ordered that Kaneʻaki be transformed into a war heiau to insure his final conquest of Kauaʻi (Kaʻena Point, nearby, points directly at that island). (NPS)
Supposedly those who started restoring the temple in the 1940s used Puʻukohola Heiau (at Kohala on the Big Island) as a model for the placement of the houses and idols. (NPS)
Bishop Museum staff supervised the restoration. There is a low terrace from which observers watched the ceremonies, the large hale mana for the priests on the upper platform alongside the smaller hale pahu, with an altar on pole legs between them. (NPS)
Behind the altar is the god figure flanked by two prayer towers. These structures were reconstructed on the basis of postholes found in the stone platform. (NPS)
Waiʻanae School Hawaii Studies Program suggests the following General Protocol Guidelines.
Kaneʻaki Heiau remains a significant place of culture to this very day. Therefore, it is very important to establish guidelines that will ensure the preservation of this sacred site, and to protect those that come to visit. (WaiʻanaeHawaiianStudies)
- Your approach to Kaneʻaki Heiau should be very respectful and treated as though you are in the house of god. You may be greeted and briefed by members of Hui Mālama O Kaneʻaki. Then you may proceed to the heiau trail.
- Unnecessary noise should be avoided or limited to the lower areas (parking/lawn area).Only guides may speak.
- Absolutely no entry allowed onto the main platforms.
- You must remain on the trail established by guides. Let your eyes and ears do the touching and not your hands.
- The following list of hoʻokupu are considered acceptable offerings: Maiʻa (Hawaiian banana), Awa, Niu, Kumu, Wauke, ʻOhe, Kalo, Ipu or Lua Ki. These offerings should be made in their natural state and not “prepared.” But no hoʻokupu, other than the personal mana you share with us today, is better than inferior offering. (WaiʻanaeHawaiianStudies)
The heiau is on private land and, due to activities there, for the past few months it has been “closed until further notice.” I spoke with a representative at Mauna ʻOlu Estates Security and they do not know when public access will reopen. If you are interested, you may check back with them at (808) 695-8174.
The image shows a view of Kaneʻaki Heiau in Mākaha Valley. I have added other images to a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.