Moku O Keawe – The Island of Keawe recalls and honors a 17th-century chief, Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku (Keawe the One Chief of the Island,”) whose reign was ascribed “such peace and prosperity as the island of Hawai‘i had not enjoyed since the time of his ancestor Līloa”. (Barrere, deSilva)
James Cook (1778) and George Vancouver (1793) both referred to the island as “Owhyhee.” Today, we more commonly call it Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Island or the Big Island.
The following is a portion of Kūaliʻi’s chant (he was a chief from Oʻahu.)
Ua like; aia ka kou hoa e like ai,
‘O Keawe, haku o Hawai‘i
There is a comparison; here, indeed, is the one you resemble,
Keawe, Lord of Hawaiʻi.
(Ka Inoa O Kūaliʻi, The Chant Of Kūaliʻi; Fornander; deSilva)
“Kūaliʻi’s chant devotes over a hundred lines in its own closing section to extolling his superiority; nothing on land, sea, or sky can compare to him; he is not like the hala, ‘ōhi‘a, or ʻaʻali‘i; nor is he like the porpoise, shark, or līpoa; nor is he like the ʻōʻō, nāulu rain, or mountain wind.”
“He can be compared to one thing only, the chant finally concedes; he finds an equal in his Hawai‘i island counterpart, the Hōnaunau-based chief Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku.” (deSilva)
Keawe was believed to have lived from 1665 to 1725. He is sometimes referred to as King Keawe II, since prior to him there was already a King Keawenuiaumi. He was son of Keākealaniwahine, the ruling Queen of Hawaiʻi and Kanaloa-i-Kaiwilena Kapulehu. Keawe was the great-grandfather of Kamehameha I.
Keākealaniwahine ruled from what is referred to as the Hōlualoa Royal Center, in Kona; it is split into two archaeological complexes, Kamoa Point/Keolonāhihi Complex and Keākealaniwahine Residential Complex.)
The Hōlualoa Royal Center had three major occupation sequences with various aliʻi: AD 1300 (Keolonāhihi), AD 1600 (Keākealaniwahine and Keakamahana (her mother)) and AD 1780 (Kamehameha I) – it appears very likely that the Hōlualoa Royal Center grew and changed over time. (DLNR)
Prominent aliʻi in the Kona District who also may have resided at Hōlualoa include Keakealani-kane (father of Keakamahana,) Keawe, Keʻeaumoku-nui (son of Keawe) and Alapaʻi-nui (nephew of Keawe.) (DLNR)
Keawe ruled along with his half-sister wife Kalanikauleleiaiwi who inherited their mother’s kapu rank. After his death, a civil war broke out over succession between his sons, Keʻeaumoku and Kalaninuiʻamamao, and a rival chief known as Alapaʻinuiakauaua (his nephew.)
Hale O Keawe, at the northern end of the eastern wing of the Great Wall at Puʻuhonua O Honaunau, was named after and either built by or for Keawe around 1700.
In ancient times the Heiau served as a royal mausoleum, housing the remains of deified high chiefs. The powerful mana (divine power) associated with these remains served to sanctify and validate the existence of the Puʻuhonua.
The earliest western accounts indicate that in the 1820s the structure was largely intact with thatched hale, wooden palisade, and multiple kiʻi (wooden images of gods.) (NPS)
The only heiau allowed standing by Kaʻahumanu after the breaking of the kapu were Hale O Līloa (built by the High Chief Līloa in the 16th century) in Waipiʻo Valley and Hale O Keawe at Hoʻonaunau in Kona. These two edifices were the sacred repositories of the iwi of Hawai`i’s greatest chiefs. (Parker)
However, in December of 1828, Kaʻahumanu visited Hale O Keawe. She found to her dismay that someone had left hoʻokupu (gifts) inside to honor dead ancestors. She was so angry that she ordered the dismantling and destruction of both Hale O Keawe and Hale O Līloa in Waipiʻo. (Parker)
Hale O Keawe was dismantled by Ka‘ahumanu in 1829; its bones were removed to Kaʻawaloa, its large timbers were used in the construction of a school and government house, and smaller pieces of its kauila wood framework were given as souvenirs to the missionaries. (deSilva)
The pu‘uhonua was deeded to Miriam Kekāuluohi, a granddaughter of Kamehameha I, in the Māhele of 1848, and it was inherited, upon her death, by Levi Ha‘alelea, her second husband. In 1866, the property was auctioned by Ha‘alelea’s estate to Charles Kana‘ina, the father of William Charles Lunalilo.
Kana‘ina, however, did not pay the $5000 bid, and Charles Reed Bishop stepped in to purchase Ha‘alelea’s land for that same amount on April 1, 1867. In 1891, six years after Pauahi’s death, Bishop deeded the land to the trustees of the Bishop Estate who leased it to one of their members, SM Damon.
Damon was responsible for the 1902 restoration work on the Great Wall and the stone platforms of two heiau, Hale o Keawe and ‘Ale‘ale‘a. The County of Hawai‘i took over Damon’s lease in 1921. That lease expired in 1961 when the then County Park was acquired by the US National Park Service. (deSilva)
Further reconstruction consisted of four terraces and a passage between the southern end of the platform and the northern end of the Great Wall. In 1966-67 Edmund J Ladd directed the excavation and re-stabilization of the Hale o Keawe platform.
Ladd’s excavations in addition to historical accounts indicated that the platform did not originally have multiple tiers; therefore, the 1967 work restored the platform to its more authentic form that joins the Great Wall on its south side.
After the platform was restored, the thatched hale, wooden palisade, and kiʻi were also rebuilt on the site. Since the time of Ladd’s initial reconstruction, the Hale o Keawe structure and carved wooden kiʻi have been replaced on two occasions with the most recent efforts being completed in 2004. (NPS)
The image shows the ahupuaʻa of Moku O Keawe. In addition, I have added other images to a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.