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.