Eia Hawai‘i, he moku, he kanaka
He kanaka Hawai‘i, e …
O Moʻikeha ka lani nana e noho
Noho kuʻu lani ia Hawai‘i – a …
Moʻikeha, the chief.
Behold Hawai‘i, an island, a man
A man is Hawaiʻi …
Moʻikeha is the chief who will live there
My chief shall dwell in Hawai‘i …
Moʻikeha, the chief.
By the time European explorers entered the Pacific in the 15th century almost all of the habitable islands had been settled for hundreds of years and oral traditions told of explorations, migrations and travels across this immense watery world.
Double-hulled canoes were seaworthy enough to make voyages of over 2,000-miles along the longest sea roads of Polynesia, like the one between Hawai‘i and Tahiti.
And though these canoes had less carrying capacity than the broad-beamed ships of the European explorers, the Polynesian canoes were faster: one of Captain Cook’s crew estimated a canoe could sail “three miles to our two.” (Kawaharada)
The motivations of the voyagers varied. Some left to explore the world or to seek adventure. Others departed to find new land or new resources because of growing populations or prolonged droughts and other ecological disasters in their homelands.
Within the sphere of known islands, others sailed to wage war or seek vengeance, to escape political persecution or unhappy love affairs, to find a wife or visit relatives, or to obtain prized objects, like red feathers, not available at home.
Whatever the motivation for voyaging, the challenge was always the same – the huge, trackless expanses of sun-heated saltwater capable of generating fierce winds and battering waves.
The challenge was met again and again by Pacific island voyagers, long before sailors in other parts of the world ventured beyond the coastlines of continents or inland seas and lakes. (PVS)
Born at Waipi‘o on the island of Hawai‘i, Moʻikeha sailed to Kahiki (Tahiti), the home of his grandfather Maweke, after a disastrous flood. (Cultural Surveys)
Moʻikeha was an aliʻi nui (high chief) from Moa‘ulanuiakea, Tahiti, where he lived with his wife Kapo. They had a child named Laʻamaikahiki.
Moʻikeha became infatuated with Luʻukia, but she created some domestic difficulties; Moʻikeha directed his foster-son Kamahualele to ready a double-hulled canoe to go to Hawaiʻi.
Moʻikeha planned to take his sisters, Makapuʻu and Makaʻaoa, his two younger brothers, Kumukahi and Haʻehaʻe, his priest Moʻokini, and his prominent men (na kanaka koikoi) – navigators (ho‘okele), favorite priests (kahuna punahele) and his lookouts (kiu nana,) who would spy out land.
Early one morning at dawn, at the rise of the navigation star (ka hoku ho‘okelewa‘a; possibly Sirius), Moʻikeha boarded his double-hulled canoe with his fellow voyagers (hoa holo), and left Tahiti.
After the canoe landed at Hilo, Kumukahi and Haʻehaʻe were charmed by the land and told Moʻikeha they wanted to remain there, so Moʻikeha let them off the canoe.
Soon after, Moʻikeha set sail from Hilo, passing along the north coast of Hawai‘i until he arrived at Kohala. Moʻokini and Kaluawilinau wanted to reside at Kohala, so Mōʻīkeha put them ashore there.
He sailed on to the east coast of Maui and landed at Hāna. Honua‘ula wanted to reside there, so he was allowed to remain behind. Moʻikeha sailed on.
Moʻikeha and his people continued on their journey. Arriving at O‘ahu, Mo‘ikeha’s sisters Makapu‘u and Makaaoa said: “We wish to reside here, where we can see the cloud drifts of Tahiti.” So Makapu‘u and Makaaoa were allowed to remain on O‘ahu.
Moʻikeha left O‘ahu and sailed to Kauai, landing at Wailua. The canoe was brought ashore and the travellers got off. Meanwhile the locals were gathering in a crowd to go surf-riding at Ka-makaiwa. Among them were the two daughters of the ali‘i nui of Kauai, Ho‘oipoikamalanai and Hinauʻu.
When the two sisters saw Moʻikeha, they immediately fell in love with him, and they decided to take him for their husband; Moʻikeha was also struck. Their father approved.
Kila, Moʻikeha’s favorite of three sons by the Kaua‘i chiefess Ho‘oipoikamalani, was born at Kapaʻa and was said to be the most handsome man on the island. It was Kila who was sent by his father back to Kahiki to slay his old enemies and retrieve a foster son, the high chief La‘amaikahiki.
Moʻikeha settled at Kapaʻa Kauai as ruling chief of the island. Upon his death, Kila, his son, became ruling chief of Kauai. (McGregor) After Moʻikeha’s death, his corpse was taken to the cliffs of Haʻena where it was deposited.
After returning to Tahiti, then sailing again to Hawaiʻi, Laʻamaikahiki set sail again, going up the Kona coast of Hawaiʻi Island. It was on this visit that Laʻamaikahiki introduced hula dancing, accompanied by the drum, to Hawaiʻi. (Bentley)
“To Kauai from far-off Kahiki came Laʻa to see his father Moʻikeha. With him came the first drum ever seen in these islands. La’amaikahiki landed at a small canoe landing called Ahukini, a little south of Hanamaulu bay and the present ahukini landing. His drum was taken to the heiau of Ka Lae o Ka Manu at Wailua.” (Hula Historical Perspectives)
Laʻamaikahiki lived on Kauai for a while. Then he moved to Kahikinui on Maui (the place was named for Laʻamaikahiki’s homeland, in honor of him.) As the place was too windy, however, Laʻamaikahiki left for the west coast of the island of Kahoʻolawe, where he lived until he finally returned to Tahiti.
Because Laʻamaikahiki lived on Kahoʻolawe and set sail for home from that island, the ocean to the west of Kahoʻolawe is called Kealaikahiki, “The Road to Tahiti.”
Laʻamaikahiki took his brother Kila and the bones of their father to Tahiti with him. The bones were to be deposited in the mountain of Kapaahu, Tahiti. Laʻamaikahiki and Kila also lived there until their death. Little more was heard about these two brothers. (Lots of information here is from PVS, Cultural Surveys and Fornander.)