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Traditions on the island of O‘ahu provide the names of a dynasty of ruling chiefs beginning with Māʻilikūkahi, honored as the first great king of O‘ahu. Māʻilikūkahi, who ruled about the same time Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America, holds a prominent place in O‘ahu legends for his wise, firm, judicious government.

Soon after becoming aliʻi, Māʻilikūkahi moved to Waikīkī; he was probably one of the first chiefs to live there. Up until this time the chiefs had typically lived at Waialua and ‘Ewa. From that point on, with few exceptions, Waikīkī remained the seat of Oʻahu aliʻi, until Kamehameha I moved the seat to Honolulu. Māʻilikūkahi is noted for clearly marking and reorganizing land division palena (boundaries) on O‘ahu. Defined palena brought greater productivity to the lands; lessened conflict and was a means of settling disputes of future aliʻi who would be in control of the bounded lands; protected the commoners from the chiefs; and brought (for the most part) peace and prosperity. What is commonly referred to as the “ahupuaʻa system” is a result of the firm establishment of palena.

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Pālama Settlement

Pālama, then a sleepy neighborhood of neat little cottages and taro patches, was chosen by philanthropist and Central Union members Mr. and Mrs. PC Jones as the site for a new chapel. On the makai side of King street, opposite Liliha Street, the chapel was dedicated on June 1, 1896, and presented to Central Union by the Joneses. Social worker James Arthur Rath, Sr. and his wife, Ragna Helsher Rath, turned Pālama Chapel into Pālama Settlement (in September 1906).

The Raths established the territory’s first public nursing department, a day-camp for children with tuberculosis, a pure milk depot, a day nursery, a night school, and low-rent housing. Pālama Settlement – a smaller one due to the widening of Vineyard Boulevard and the construction of the H-1 Freeway – continues to exist as a nonprofit, nongovernmental agency dedicated to helping needy families and at-risk youths.

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Kūkaniloko Birthstones

The Kūkaniloko Birthstones “to anchor the cry from within” site is one of the most significant cultural sites on O‘ahu. Kūkaniloko was one of two places in Hawai‘i specifically designated for the birth of high-ranking children; the other site was Holoholokū at Wailua on Kauai. These royal birthing sites maintained the antiquity and purity of the chiefly lineages on O‘ahu and Kauai.

It is said that chiefs from Hawai‘i Island and Maui often sought greater prestige by marrying those with these strong ancestral lineages. The site is marked by 180 stones covering an area of about ½-acre. Many of these stones have surface depressions and fluted edges with a coating of red dirt. These surfaces are probably a combination of natural weathering and human craftsmanship over many generations.

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Ulupō Heiau

Kawainui was a large, 400 acre fishpond with an abundance of mullet, awa, and o’opu. Ka’elepulu and Nuʻupia fishponds are nearby. Ulupō Heiau is on the east side of the pond.

Ulupō Heiau measures 140 by 180 feet with walls up to 30 feet in height. It is believed Oahu chief rededicated Ulupō Heiau as a heiau luakini. The Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club and ‘Ahahui Malama I ka Lōkahi are the co-curators at this State Park heiau complex.

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Kualoa is an ancient Hawaiian land division (ahupua’a) at the north end of Kaneohe Bay, windward, Kualoa is prominent in Hawaiian folklore and mythology including traditions of Papa and Wākea, Hāloa, Pele, Hi‘iaka, Kamapua‘a and mo‘o (lizard dragons). Kamakau referred to Kualoa as being a very sacred place of refuge (pu‘uhonua). Many authors say that all canoes passing seaward of Kualoa lowered their sails in acknowledgement of the nature of Kualoa as a sacred residence of chiefs.

In the 19th Century, an early Western family owned Kualoa and built a major sugar mill there. A few remains of this sugar mill still exist next to the Kamehameha Highway, remnants of this early industry of O‘ahu which attained so much importance in later times. During WWII an airfield was used at Kualoa. Today, Kualoa is owned and cared for by the Morgan Family who operate a ranch and visitor activity center. In addition, the property has been the site of many television shows and Hollywood films.

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