“The ships were very light, having such a quantity of water expended, and our rigging fore and aft stood much in need of repairing and overhauling …”
“… so that we thought it prudent to quit our present situation and proceed for King George’s Bay (Maunalua Bay,) Woahoo, where we could lie well sheltered from the prevailing winds, and do every thing necessary both to the hulls and rigging of the ships …” (Portlock)
Accounts of early western visitors to the southeast coast of O‘ahu suggest that the area from Waikīkī to Maunalua Bay, including Wai‘alae, Wailupe, Niu and Kuliʻouʻou was well-populated and that food resources were more than sufficient. Anchoring his ship, the King George, in Maunalua Bay in 1786, Captain Nathaniel Portlock reported:
“Soon after our arrival, several canoes came off and brought a few cocoa-nuts and plantains, some sugar-cane and sweet root; in return for which we gave them small pieces of iron and a few trinkets.” (Portlock)
“… as the people now brought us plenty of water, I determined to keep my present situation, it being in many respects an eligible one; for we hitherto had been favoured with a most refreshing sea breeze, which blows over the low land at the head of the bay …”
“… and the bay all around has a beautiful appearance, the low land and vallies being in a high state of cultivation, and crowded with plantations of taro, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, &c, interspersed with a great number of cocoa-nut trees, which renders the prospect truly delightful. (Portlock)
The name Maunalua (two mountains) is said to have been attributed to Ka Lae o Koko, also known as Kuamo‘okāne (today known as Koko Head), and Kohelepelepe (today known as Koko Crater.) (Coleman)
Pahua Heiau is one of dozens of recorded archaeological sites and one of four confirmed heiau sites in Maunalua and is one of the most significant sacred sites remaining in Maunalua (now known as Hawai‘i Kai) on the southeastern shore of the island of O‘ahu.
Consisting of stacked stone terraces arranged in a rectangular shape, Pahua is a heiau (temple or shrine, place of worship.) It measures 68 by 40 feet and is set against the base of the ridge dividing the Kamilonui and Kamiloiki Valleys. (Coleman)
“The heiau sits high on the hillside above the far inland head of Kua-pā Pond, also known as Keahupua–o–Maunalua Fishpond… In former times one could look out from this vantage point over the broad plain surrounding the pond below and stretching eastward across the “saddle” behind Koko Crater to Kalama and Wāwāmalu beyond.” (Bertell Davis; Coleman)
Archaeologists suggest that Pahua was once an agricultural heiau, constructed between the fifteenth and eighteenth century, although there are many theories surrounding its traditional usage and function. (Coleman) Some suggest I may be a ko‘a (fishing shrine.)
The interpretation of the word pā–hua as “an enclosure of fruits” has been used as a support the thought that it was an agricultural heiau.
The word hua not only has meanings associated with fruit, ovum and seeds, but also with general fertility and fruitfulness (particularly as applied to a high agricultural yield; the verb hua means to sprout. (Coleman)
When the archaeologist J Gilbert McAllister first documented Pahua as a field site in the 1930s, the heiau had been abandoned for some time; he was unable to definitively ascertain its function and significance, either from previously published works or from interviews with kamaʻāina living in the area.
If Pahua was an agricultural heiau, it is likely that the kapu surrounding it were not exceedingly strict, and it is possible that low-ranking ali‘i of the area may have constructed the site and worshiped there.
Pahua was the only name recorded for the heiau as given by a native Hawaiian informant to McAllister in the early 1930s. Despite the possibility that Pahua was not the original or proper name for the site, limited historical evidence suggests that it was.
For example, Pahua is also documented as a name for the area in nūpepa (Hawaiian language newspapers) during the early and mid-1800s.
Reference to Pahua as a place is found in one of the first kanikau (chant of mourning) ever printed in the nūpepa. In the August 8, 1834 issue of Ka Lama Hawai‘i, David Malo used the phrase “noho anea kula wela la o Pahua,” (tarrying in the vibrating heat of the hot plains of Pahua.) (Coleman)
One meaning of the word pahua is “down–trodden,” which can be used to describe grass that has been flattened. Although rare, this understanding of pahua correlates to the description of Pahua as a kula (plain) that is found in the kanikau (laments) printed in the nūpepa.
Maunalua was also known for cattle in the 1880s. Other variations of pahua also suggest a link to cattle; the meaning of the word pāhu‘a is similar to that of kīpuka (a clearing, an oasis, a change in form.)
And it especially refers to an area that is free of brush and vegetation, such as a pasture where it was easy to rope cows. The word pahu‘ā, (pahu, to push; ‘ā, to drive, as in cattle) also suggests a strong association with cattle. (Coleman)
Pahua Heiau was excavated and restored during a volunteer community service project directed by Bertell D Davis with the Outdoor Circle and others in 1985.
Excavation uncovered evidence that the heiau was constructed in several stages, but Davis was not able to determine the chronology of the construction sequence. (Jordan)
Pahua heiau sits on land gifted to Office of Hawaiian Affairs by Kamehameha Schools in 1988, OHA’s first land holding. The site is located on the slope at the south end of the ridge between Kamilo Nui and Kamilo Iki Valleys, overlooking the top end of Makahuena Place.