Royal Centers were where the aliʻi resided.
The Royal Centers were selected for their abundance of resources and recreation opportunities, with good surfing and canoe-landing sites being favored.
The Hawaiian court was mobile within the districts the aliʻi controlled. A Chief’s attendants might consist of as many as 700 to 1000-followers, made of kahuna and political advisors; servants which included craftsmen, guards, stewards; relatives and others. (NPS)
Aliʻi often moved between several residences throughout the year. There was no regular schedule for movement between Royal Centers. In part, periodic moves served to ensure that district chiefs did not remain isolated, or unsupervised long enough to gather support for a revolt. (NPS)
For centuries, Kaiakeakua (also spelled Kaiakekua) was a favored place for royalty.
“Perhaps … because it was a place celebrated for the constant appearance of fishes. Sometimes kule, fish that burrow in the sand … for there is sand (at) Kaiakekua …” (John Papa ʻIʻi)
“This sandy stretch, called Kaiakekua was a canoe landing, with some houses mauka of it. … Its fresh water came up from the pāhoehoe and mixed with the water of the sea.”
“It was a gathering place for those who went swimming and a place where the surf rolled in and dashed on land when it was rough. … just makai was a patch of sand facing north, where canoes landed”. (John Papa ʻIʻi)
“There were chiefs and families of chiefs …(and) … The sands of Kaiakeakua were worn down like a dromedary’s (camel’s) back by the many feet of chiefs and chiefesses tramping over them, and … could be seen at night the sparkle of lights reflected in the sea like diamonds, from the homes of the chiefs…. The number of chiefs and lesser chiefs reached into the thousands”. (Kamakau)
At about the same time of Christopher Columbus crossing the Atlantic to America (he was looking for an alternate trade route to the East Indies,) ʻUmi-a-Līloa (ʻUmi) moved his Royal Center there.
ʻUmi was famous for his battle with the gods. His wife Piʻikea, had supernatural grandmothers, who were Hapuʻu and Kalaihauola, and who desired to have a grandchild that they might take to Oʻahu to bring up, because the mother of Piʻikea, Laieloheloheikawai, belonged to Oahu.
Laieloheloheikawai sent the supernatural grandmothers to Hawaiʻi to obtain one of Piʻikea’s children. When they arrived in Hawaiʻi ʻUmi refused to permit a child to be taken. ʻUmi offered to fight the deities at the sandy plains.
However, human beings battle with their hands, clubs and stones, but the gods without hands, and when the battle was fought the gods were victorious over the battle of men. The place is called Kaiakeakua – sea of the god – to this day. (Fornander)
Lonoikamakahiki ca. 1640-1660 was tested at Kaiakeakua by Kanaloakuaʻana. “I want to be positive of your great skill, hence I have brought you here for that test and to satisfy myself that you are indeed a master.”
“There were about thirty spearmen to throw at the same time. After the men were ready and the spears thrown it was seen that Lonoikamakahiki was not hit by a single one of them.” The test was continued from 30 spears to 80 spears, and Lonoikamakahiki was not hit. (Fornander)
Some early writers called this place “Kayakakoua.” Joseph Paul Gaimard, zoologist on a French scientific expedition commanded by Louis de Freycinet during the years 1817-20, speaks of Kayakakoua.
“It is located on the beach and appears to consist of about four hundred houses, if you can apply this term to the smallest of huts which are not more than two or three feet high.”
“There are no streets and the habitations are scattered without any order. In addition there are three buildings for storing powder and a large storeroom built of stone covered with lime.”
“The dock yards, storehouses and the principal nautical workshops of the king are also located there. At each end of the town stands a morai (heiau) a simple elevation surrounded by a stake fence and filled with gigantic wooden idols.”
Oh, the name Kaiakeakua has gone out of use … today we simply call this place Kailua (in Kona on the Island of Hawaiʻi.) The remnant of the once sandy beach of Kaiakeakua sits adjacent to the Kailua Pier – it’s where the Ironman Triathlon World Championship starts each year.