Poetically Kauai is reportedly called, “Manokalanipō”, or “Kauaʻi a Mano” after the ancient chief who was largely responsible for elevating Kauaʻi’s ancient society to sophisticated heights of advancement and productivity. (NativeKauai)
Independent chiefdoms were ruled by a supreme chief, or aliʻi ʻaimoku (chief possessing an island or district); at times referred to as aliʻi-nui (great chief) to distinguish him from lesser chiefs.
Typically this position was attained by inheritance, as holder of highest rank among the nobility; however it could also be gained by force by a relative, lesser chief or outside invader.
The aliʻi-nui had complete control over his lands and production, as well as the lives of his subjects. He derived these rights from his familial relationship with the Hawaiian gods.
Poʻipū, Kauai was a Royal Center for the southern shoreline of Kauai. Here resided high chiefs Kukona (7th aliʻi ʻaimoku) and Manokalanipō (8th) when on the south-side; and they were kept in paramount chiefly control until the last Prince Keliiahonui, son of Kaumualiʻi (23rd) in the 1830s.
Manokalanipō has the characteristic honor of having had his name as a nickname to the island over which he ruled, and in epical and diplomatic language it was ever after known as “Kauai-a-Manokalanipō.”
Manokalanipō was noted for the energy and wisdom with which he encouraged agriculture and industry, executed long and difficult works of irrigation, and thus brought fields of wilderness under cultivation. The wife of Manokalanipō was Naekapulani. He was son of Kukona.
Kukona (7th aliʻi ʻaimoku (high chief or king) of Kauai), whose name in Hawaiʻi became a symbol of the very highest ideals of chivalry in battle, was born in Kōloa and fought his defining battle at Poʻipū. His year of birth is estimated at around 1405.
In the first part of the 15th century, Kalaunuiohua, the ambitious chief of Hawaiʻi who had already conquered three other islands, tried to seize Kauai. He was accompanied into battle by the combined armies and chiefs of Maui, Molokai and Oʻahu. The war is known as the War of Ka-welewele.
When the armada of Kalaunuiohua, touched the shores of Kauaʻi, they were met by an army of only 500 men who were the defenders of Kauaʻi.
Kukona had not even bothered to attend; he sent Manokalanipō. A small and greatly outnumbered force of Kaua`i warriors had decisively beaten the combined armies of all of the other islands. (Fornander)
Kukona captured all four chiefs of Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui and Molokai.
He had the opportunity to kill them all and assume leadership over the islands. However, he preferred peace and allowed them to return safely home with a promise that they never again make war on Kauai.
As noted by Fornander: “The war with the Hawaiʻi chief, and the terrible defeat and capture of the latter, as well as Kukona’s generous conduct towards the four chiefs who fell into his hands after the battle, brought Kauai back into the family circle of the other islands, and with an éclat and superiority which it maintained to the last of its independence.”
This peace lasted for four hundred years; the peace was called ka lai loa ia Kamaluohua (The Long Peace of Kamaluohua – named for the captured Maui chief who, while Kukona was sleeping, stated to the others, “Let us do no hurt to Kukona, because he has been kind to us. Here we are in his hands, but he has not put us to death. Let us then treat him kindly.” (Malo))
No foreign wars disturbed Kukona’s nor Manokalanipō’s reign, and it is remembered in the legends as the golden age of that island. (Fornander)
Today, people of Kauai proudly proclaim that their island was never conquered over the centuries, even when larger armies attempted to do so.