Mauna Kea falls in the senior line genealogy. (Maly)
Former Queen Emma, widow of the late Alexander Liholiho Kamehameha (IV,) and David Kalakaua were in competition for the position of monarch of Hawai’i.
Both of them needed to prove their connection to the senior line and connect back to a wahi pana (celebrated and storied places). Kalakaua went to Kanaloa-Kahoʻolawe to bathe in the waters of the ocean god Kanaloa.
Emma went to the top of Mauna Kea to bathe in the waters of Waiau. The ceremony was to cleanse in Lake Waiau at the piko of the island.
The water caught at Lake Waiau was considered pure water of the gods much like the water caught in the piko of the kalo leaf, the nodes of bamboo or the coconut and is thought of as being pure. (Maly, Mauna-a-Wakea))
Papa is a goddess of earth and the underworld and mother of gods. Wakea is god of light and of the heavens who “opens the door of the sun”. (Beckwith)
“In the genealogy of Wakea it is said that Papa gave birth to these Islands. Another account has it that this group of islands were not begotten, but really made by the hands of Wakea himself.” (Malo)
Waiau is named for the mountain goddess, Waiau (Ka piko o Waiau), and home of the moʻo (water-form) goddess Moʻo-i-nanea.
It is a place where piko of newborn children were taken to ensure long life; and from which “ka wai kapu o Kane” (the sacred water of Kane) was collected. (Maly)
Lake Waiau, located at the 13,020-foot elevation, is on the Island of Hawaii, near the summit of Mauna Kea.
The ancient Hawaiians believed that spirits traveled to and from the spirit world through Lake Waiau, which had ‘no bottom.’ (Actually, the lake has been measured in modern times at 10 feet deep.) The lake freezes over in winter. (Allen)
Lake Waiau is a ‘perched’ water body, in which water is held in a depression by an impermeable substrate of layers of silty clay, interbedded with ash layers, and it has been proposed that permafrost also underlies the lake. It has also been suggested that permafrost surrounds the lake and provides a catchment that directs water into the lake. (USGS)
In 1830, Hiram Bingham and Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) ascended Mauna Kea and stopped at Lake Waiau – Bingham noted, “In the morning we proceeded slowly upwards till about noon, when we came to banks of snow, and a pond of water partly covered with ice.”
“In his first contact with a snow bank, the juvenile king seemed highly delighted. He bounded and tumbled on it, grasped and handled and hastily examined pieces of it, then ran and offered a fragment of it in vain to his horse.”
“He assisted in cutting out blocks of it, which were wrapped up and sent down as curiosities to the regent and other chiefs, at Waimea, some twenty-eight miles distant.”
“These specimens of snow and ice, like what are found in the colder regions of the earth, excited their interest and gratified their curiosity, and pleased them much; not only by their novelty, but by the evidence thus given of a pleasant remembrance by the youthful king.”
“After refreshing and amusing ourselves at this cold mountain lake, we proceeded a little west of north, and soon reached the
lofty area which is surmounted by the ‘seven pillars’ which wisdom had hewed out and based upon it, or the several terminal peaks near each other, resting on what would otherwise be a somewhat irregular table land, or plain of some twelve miles circumference.” (Hiram Bingham)
Others made the ascent, “(T)hrough the sliding, weathered lava and cinders, to the pass to the right of the summit cone, and down the slope of the shoulder of the mountain wherein nestles the surprise of Mauna Kea – Lake Waiau.”
“Here, as the sun dipped behind the blue waters of the Pacific, curving up to meet it, we gazed with astonished eyes upon a tiny emerald gem, glacier made in some past time, set in a niche in the arid side of Mauna Kea.”
“We pitched our tent hurriedly by the green, cold lake, built a fire in the whipping trade wind, with its chilly bite, ate an early supper, and retired like packed sardines between our blankets. We were in an arctic zone under a tropic sky.”
“Taking our last look across the lake, we saw the image of fair Venus, streaming in white and shimmering light across the tiny, rippling waves. A thousand jewels glittered in the reflected phantom light of our neighbor planet. The next morning, ice over a half-inch thick was found in the gravel bar about the lake.” (Daingerfield, Paradise of the Pacific, December 1922; Maly)
Another noted, “At last, about 3 PM, we clambered over the rim of a low crater west of the central cones, and saw before us the famous lakelet of Waiau, near which we camped.”
“It is an oval sheet of the purist water, an acre and three quarters in extent, surrounded by an encircling ridge from 90 to 135 feet in height, except at the northwest corner, where there is an outlet, which was only two feet above the level of the lake at the time of our visit.”
“The overflow has worn out a deep ravine, which runs first to west and then to the southwest. A spring on the southern side of the mountain, called “Wai Hu”, is believed by the natives to be connected with this lake.”
“The elevation of Waiau is at least 13,050 feet, which is 600 feet higher than Fujiyama. There are few bodies of water in the world higher than this, except in Thibet or on the plateau of Pamir. No fish are found in its waters, nor do any water-fowl frequent its margins.” (Alexander, Pacific Commercial Advertiser, September 14, 1892)
“Lake Waiau … is the highest lake within the boundaries of the Pacific Ocean Basin. The southern rim of the depression containing the lake is a low segment of a cinder cone, Pu‘u Waiau, on which rests moraine of the latest period of glaciation.”
“The lake water is perched on a layer of silt and mud washed into the basin from the sides of the cone and from the glacial moraine. … The lowest point of the rim is on the western side, where the lake water occasionally overflows into the headwaters of Pohakuloa Gulch.”
“The water is derived entirely from precipitation and runoff from the edges of the basin.” (Geology and Groundwater Resources of the Island of Hawaii, Stearns & Macdonald, 1946)