A Prophecy of Keʻāulumoku (1716‐1784) on the Rise of Kamehameha
Exalted sits the chief and from on high looks forth;
He views the island; far down he sees the beauteous lands below.
Much sought after, hoped for, the island as sought for is seen …
Let him live forever. O let him live …
Let the little chiefs under him live.
Let the father chiefs live under his protection,
Let the soldiers live who fought in former times,
Let the mass of people live ‐ the common people …
Keʻāulumoku predicted “that Kamehameha would triumph over his enemies, and in the end be hailed as the greatest of Hawaiian conquerors. (Kalākaua)
His prophecy came true. Kamehameha I is universally recognized as being the greatest figure in the history of the Hawaiian people, and as being of significance even in world history. (Hawaiian Historical Society)
Many estimate that Kamehameha the Great was born 1758 in North Kohala on the island of Hawaiʻi (the exact date of the birth is not known.) His father was Keōua; his mother was Chiefess Kekuʻiapoiwa of the Kohala district on the island of Hawaiʻi.
Fearing for her son’s life, Kekuʻiapoiwa, sent him to live with Kahanui and Kahāʻopūlani where Kamehameha grew up in seclusion. (Topolinski) Paiea, which means “hard-shelled crab,” and Kamehameha, which means “the lonely one,” literally defined Kamehameha’s isolated childhood experience.
Kokoiki, Kamehameha’s birthplace, means ”little blood,” referring to the first signs of childbirth. Hawi, meaning ”unable to breathe,” was where the child, being spirited away by a servant, required resuscitation and nursing. Kapaʻau, meaning ”wet blanket,” was where heavy rain soaked the infant’s kapa (blanket.) Halaʻula (scattered blood) was the town where soldiers were killed in anger. (Sproat – (Fujii, NY Times))
Word went out to find and kill the baby, but the Kohala community conspired to save him. The future King was carried on a perilous journey through Kohala and Pololū Valley to Awini. (KamehamehaDayCelebration) Some believe Kamehameha also spent much of his teen years in Pololū (Lit long spear.)
“Pololū is a pleasant village situated in a small cultivated valley, having a fine stream of water flowing down its centre, while lofty mountains rise on either side. The houses stand principally on the beach, but as we did not see many of the inhabitants, we passed on, ascended the steep mountain on the north side, and kept on our way.” (Ellis, 1826)
“The country was fertile, and seemed populous, though the houses were scattered, and more than three or four seldom appeared together. The streams of water were frequent, and a large quantity of ground was cultivated on their banks, and in the vicinity.” (Ellis, 1826)
Pololū is one of three primary quarry sites for the material for stone adzes on the Island of Hawaiʻi (Mauna Kea and Kilauea Volcano, the other two.) Stones beside the main stream in the valley floor were used. In general, the Pololū material is coarser grained than stone from Mauna Kea. (Withrow)
Pololū played a prominent role in Kamehameha’s later life. In 1790 (at the same time that George Washington was serving as the US’s first president,) the island of Hawaiʻi was under multiple rule; Kamehameha (ruler of Kohala, Kona and Hāmākua regions) successfully invaded Maui, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi.
He sent an emissary to the famous kahuna (priest, soothsayer,) Kapoukahi, to determine how he could conquer all of the island of Hawaiʻi. According to Thrum, Kapoukahi instructed Kamehameha “to build a large heiau for his god at Puʻukoholā, adjoining the old heiau of Mailekini.”
“When it came to the building of Puʻukoholā no one, not even a tabu chief, was excused from the work of carrying stone. Kamehameha himself labored with the rest. The only exception was the high tabu chief Kealiʻimaikaʻi (Kamehameha’s younger brother).”
“Thus Kamehameha and the chiefs labored until the heiau was completed, with its fence of images (paehumu) and oracle tower (anuʻunuʻu), with all its walls outside and the hole for the bones of sacrifice. He brought down the ʻōhiʻa tree for the haku ʻōhiʻa and erected the shelter house (hale malu) of ʻōhiʻa wood for Kū-kaʻili-moku according to the rule laid down for the kahuna class of Pā‘ao.” (Kamakau)
It is estimated that the human chain from Pololū Valley to Puʻukohola had somewhere between 10,000-20,000 men carrying stones from Pololū Valley to Kawaihae. (NPS)
After completing the heiau in 1791, Kamehameha invited Keōua to come to Kawaihae to make peace. However, as Keōua was about to step ashore, he was attacked and killed by one of Kamehameha’s chiefs.
With Keōua dead, and his supporters captured or slain, Kamehameha became King of Hawaiʻi island, an event that according to prophesy eventually led to the conquest and consolidation of the islands under the rule of Kamehameha I.
In more modern times, Pololū played a role in other military means. During World War II, the US military established Camp Tarawa in Waimea, South Kohala, and trained over 50,000 servicemen between 1942 and 1945 – they were preparing for battle in the south Pacific (Solomon Islands, Tarawa and Iwo Jima.)
The Kohala Coast was used to simulate the coast of Iwo Jima, an island south of the Japanese main islands that would be the site of a bloody invasion and victory for the Marines. To maintain secrecy, the invasion target was called “Island X.” In addition to other training, amphibious craft staged landings in Pololū Valley, and endured live-fire training, all of which took the lives of several Marines during the Camp Tarawa years. (Paul J. Du Pre) (A remnant of a track vehicle is on Pololū Valley’s floor.)
Access into the valley is via a state Na Ala Hele trail (at the end of Highway 270;) a lookout offers spectacular views into the valley and the secluded Kohala/Hāmākua coastline.