It is said there once was a very large fishpond extending from Ka‘elehuluhulu, adjoining the region of Mahai‘ula (now part of Ke Kahakai State Park,) running south past Ka-Lae-O-Keāhole to as far south as Wawaloli on the boundary of ‘O‘oma (the beach park within the Natural Energy Laboratory,) in North Kona on the Big Island.
This is the present area of Kona International Airport.
This fishpond, known as Pā‘aiea, was reportedly three-miles long and a mile-and- a-half wide; it was the large fishpond of Kamehameha.
The pond was so large that fishermen going to Kailua and further South, often took a short cut by taking their canoes into the pond and going across, thus saving time against the strong sea breeze and current from Keāhole.
There was a famous saying about this fishpond: O na hoku o ka lani, o Pā‘aiea ko lalo – The stars are above, Pā‘aiea below.
The reason for this saying was because of its exceptionally large size. Within the wide waters of this pond were numerous little islets that were compared to the stars in the heavens.
“Pā‘aiea was a great pond almost like the ponds of Wainanalii and Kiholo. In the olden days, when the great ruling chiefs were living, and when these fish ponds were full of the riches of Awa, Anae, and Ahole, along with all sorts of fish which swam within.”
“During that time, Konohiki were stationed, and he was the guard of the pond that watched over the pond and all things, as here we are talking about Pā‘aiea Pond which was destroyed by lava and became pahoehoe lava which remains today”.
“In the correct and trues story of this pond, its boundaries began from Kaelehuluhulu on the north and on the south was at the place called Wawaloli, and the distance from one end to the other was 3 miles or more, and that was the length of this pond …”
“… and today within these boundaries, there are a number of pools [lua wai loko] remaining during this time that the writer is speaking before the readers of the Hoku.”
“The great Overseer [Konohiki] who cared for this pond was Kepaalani, and everything fell under him: the storehouses [hale papaa] where poi and fish were stored, the halau for the fishing canoes, the nets and all thing, and from him the fishermen and the retainers of the court would obtain their sustenance.”
“And at this time when the pond was destroyed by lava, Kamehameha was residing in Hilo for the purpose of waging war, and this war was called Kaipalaoa …”
“… during this war, Namakehaikalani died and was offered atop the Heiau of Piihonua in Hilo; and this was Kamehameha’s final war, and his enemies lived quietly without uprising once again. “
“This was the time between 1798 until 1801, and it is said that this is when lava destroyed this pond that was full of riches, and turned it into a land of pahoehoe lava which remains to this day.” (Hoku o Hawaii, 2/5/1914)
Pā‘aiea Pond was reportedly destroyed by the 1801 eruption and lava flow from Hualālai. Two parts to a story relate to the cause of its destruction.
The first suggests that one day an old woman appeared at the large canoe shed of Kepa‘alani (the konohiki or overseer of the pond.)
Another man, Kapulau, asked: “Malahini?” (newcomer)
She replied “I am a Kama‘āina, not exactly a total stranger, but I do not often come down here to the seashore. Living in the restful uplands, and hearing that there was plenty of fish down at the beach, I hastened down to see if the fishermen would give me a bit of palu.”
The konohiki replied, “”No! You cannot have fish, palu, shrimps or anything. It all belongs to the Chief, and only the Chief can give them to you.”
“Well! That is all. I now return to the uplands without even a grain of salt.” The old woman stood up and turned around to go.
When she came to Kapulau’s house, she was urged to remain and have something to eat. She consented and sat down. When she had finished her meal, Kapulau gave her a fish.
The old woman stood up, and before starting to go, she gave these instructions to her host: “Tonight, you and your wife put up a lepa (kapa cloth on end of a stick, as used to mark a taboo area) back of your house and here on your fence.” They followed her instructions.
In the second part of the story, this same old woman soon afterwards appears at a village called Manuahi which was on the Western slope of Hualālai, and where two girls who figure in this story, lived; they were roasting bread-fruit.
The name of one of these girls was Pahinahina and the name of the other was Kolomu‘o. As soon as the old woman saw then she inquired: “For whom are you roasting your bread-fruit?”
Kolomu‘o answered: “I am roasting my bread-fruit for La‘i. That is my God and the God of my parents.”
Then the old woman turned and asked Pahinahina, the other girl, “and for whom, pray, are you roasting your breadfruit?” “For Pele,” Pahinahina replies.
Then they ate the breadfruit.
Then the old woman asked Pahinahina: “Where is your house?” Pahinahina told her they shared a house, but the families lived on respective end of it. The old women then told her, “When your parents come home, you tell them to put up a lepa on the end of your part of the house.” They complied.
That night, the people living at the beach saw an eruption on Mountain of Hualālai and as they saw the lava flow they realized that the old woman whose request for fish, palu and shrimps had been refused, could have been no other than the Goddess Pele.
The lava came and destroyed the great fishpond of Pā‘aiea, dried its water and filled and covered it with black rocks.
However, two places were spared.
There remained only that very small portion of the fishpond, close to Ho‘ona (within the Natural Energy Laboratory property at Keāhole Point.)
Also, the area where Pahinahina and her family lived was left untouched, and this open space bears the name of Pahinahina to this day (it is below the old headquarters at Hu‘ehu‘e Ranch).
It is said that because of this event that the lands of Manuahi came to be called Ka-ulu-pulehu (the roasted breadfruit (‘ū is short for ‘ulu,)) and this has been shortened to Ka‘ūpūlehu.