Poʻolua is literally broken down as Poʻo (head) and lua (two) and refers to a child who has two fathers (the child is sired by other than the husband, but he is accepted by both the husband and the sire.)
A child said to be poʻolua, “that is, a child of two fathers, was considered a great honor by chiefs of that period.” (Luomala)
Kamehameha has been referred to as poʻolua (shared, two-headed) son of Keōua and Kahekili by his mother Kekuʻiapoiwa. (VanDyke)
Kamakau references Kamehameha was born at Kokoiki in Kohala. His father was Keōua, younger brother of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and his mother was Kekuʻiapoiwa, daughter of Kekela and Haʻae, both of whom belonged to families of chiefs.
Kamakau explains that it was the custom from ancient times among the chiefs of Hawaiʻi for the chief of one island to give a child to the chief of another island. This is the reason why Kahekili has often been called the father of Kamehameha, for chiefs of Hawaii and Maui were closely related. (Kamakau)
Kamehameha, who had always thought that Chief Keōua of the island of Hawaiʻi was his natural father until a few years after he conquered all the islands but Kauaʻi. Dibble notes that when Keōua, the father of Kamehameha, died, he commended his son to the care of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, who received him, and treated him as his own child.
Per Kamakau’s account, in 1802, Kamehameha, on hearing that Chief Kameʻeiamoku was dying at Lāhainā, went to him. Kameʻeiamoku had attended Kamehameha since his boyhood and was one of his four Kona Uncles who had engineered his rise to power and made him king. Kameʻeiamoku (on his deathbed) said to Kamehameha, “I have something to tell you: Kahekili was your father, you were not Keōua’s son. Here are the tokens that you are the son of Kahekili.” (Kamakau)
Kamehameha responded, “Strange that you should live all this time and only when dying tell me that I am Kahekili’s son! Had you told me this before, my brothers need not have died; they could have ruled Maui while I ruled Hawaii.” (Kamakau)
Kameʻeiamoku answered, “That is not a good thought; had they lived there would have been constant warfare between you, but with you alone as ruler the country is at peace.” (Kamakau)
Kahekili’s age is not accurately known, but as by all native accounts he was the reputed father of Kamehameha I. (Fornander)
“Kamehameha was the reputed son of Keōua otherwise called Kalanikupuapaikalaninui, a younger half-brother of Kalaniopuʻu, king of Hawaiʻi. It is said, however, that Kamehameha was the real son of Kahekili, king of Maui and that Kahekili gave him the name of his brother which was Kamehameha.” (Dibble)
Kalākaua notes, “To this record of the tangled relationships of the chiefly families of the group at that period may be added … that Kahekili, the mōʻi of Maui, was the real father of Kamehameha; and in proof of the latter the acts and admissions of Kahekili are cited.”
When Kamehameha prepared an invasion in east Maui, Kahekili sent his younger brother, Alapaʻi, with the following orders: “Go, and bestow our kingdom upon our son; and if he will receive it, well; but if he does not recognize me as his father and will not respect the gift, but insists upon war; then, tell him that both he and his soldiers shall die in their youth, before the going down of the sun.” (Dibble)
“If, indeed he shall listen to my request, then, say to him, ‘Wait, till the black tapa, shall cover me and my funeral rites shall be performed, then, come and receive his kingdom, without the peril of war,’ – for indeed, he is my son, and from me he received his name Kamehameha after that of my elder brother.” (Dibble) Receiving the message, Kamehameha delayed his invasion.
Some say that Kekuʻiapoiwa had a liaison with Kahekili (ruler of Maui) and from this union was born Kamehameha. Though Kahekili was thought to be his biological father, he was raised by his parents (and was considered the son of Kekuʻiapoiwa and Keōua.)
After Kahekili died, Fornander had an interesting perspective related to the relationships of the parties. Fornander notes, “Kameʻeiamoku and his twin-brother Kamanawa secretly took Kahekili’s body away and hid it in one of the caves at Kaloko in North Kona, Hawaii.”
Kameʻeiamoku and Kamanawa were the children of Kekaulike of Maui, and thus half-brothers of Kahekili. The twins (Kameʻeiamoku and Kamanawa) were Chiefs from the Kohala and North Kona districts and were uncles of and his counselors in the wars to unite the islands.
This relationship receives further confirmation from the native legends when they relate that, on learning the birth of Kamehameha, Kahekili sent these two sons of his father Kekaulike to Hawaiʻi to be and act as “Kahus” to Kamehameha. (Fornander)
“In no other way can the otherwise singular fact be explained that two of Kamehameha’s oldest and most prominent and trusted councilor chiefs, during a time of what may be called suspended hostilities, should have repaired from Hawaii to Oahu for the purpose of securing and safely hiding (Huna-kele) the bones of Kamehameha’s political rival; nor the otherwise equally inexplicable fact that they should have been permitted by Kalanikūpule, Kahekili’s son and successor, to carry their design into effect.” (Fornander)
Under the social system of the old regime, and of time-hallowed custom, Kamehameha would have had no power to prevent those chiefs from executing their pious errand, and Kalanikūpule would have had no motive to mistrust their honesty when resigning to them his father’s remains; and a breach of trust on their part would have consigned them to an infamy of which Hawaiian history had no precedent, and so deep, that the Hawaiian language would not have had a word detestable enough wherewith to express it. (Fornander)
“He was the reputed and accepted son of Keōua, the half-brother of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, although it was believed by many that his real father was Kahekili, mōʻi of Maui. But, however this may have been, he was of royal blood, and was destined to become not only the king of Hawaiʻi, but the conqueror and sovereign of the group. This chief was Kamehameha.” (Kalākaua)
Kamehameha, through the assistance of the Kona “Uncles” (Keʻeaumoku, Keaweaheulu, Kameʻeiamoku & Kamanawa (the latter two ended up on the Island’s coat of arms;)) succeeded, after a struggle of more than ten years, in securing to himself the supreme authority over that island (and later, the entire Hawaiian Islands chain.)
The image shows Kamehameha (drawn by Choris in 1816.) In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.