Heiau drum of Kukuiokāne deeply resounds,
unites the gathering of beloved ones.
Kumukumu’s kapu violated,
Kumukumu is near the head of Wailele stream, which joins Kamo‘oali‘i stream and flows into Kāne‘ohe Bay near Waikalua fishpond. The kukui tree is a form of the god Kamapua‘a, the pig god, and the chant calls on his boars to form a protective barrier around the heiau and the sacred trees:
Kāne’s boars surrounding the kukui grove.
Return again, and yet again, its sacredness to the earth,
living kapu of Kukuiokāne.
Beneath Keahiakahoe, the second-highest peak in the Ko‘olau range was the site of Kukuiokāne. (Kawaharada) Keahiakahoe is the name of the mountain which stands at the back of the ahupua‘a of Kaneohe.
It is a land of low hills and valleys, watered by spring-fed streams, and crowded with farms of taro sweet potatoes, sugar cane, pandanus, wauke, bananas and coconut palms. (Akaka)
“There was a farmer that lived in Ha‘ikū Valley and his name was Kahoe. The legend about Keahiakahoe has to do with his imu pit where he cooked his sweet potatoes. Keahiakahoe means ‘the fire of Kahoe.’ And the fire could be seen from the ocean side.”
“So the mountain top that is named for him, Ke Ahi a Kahoe, where the transmitter station was. The tallest part over He‘eia is that peak Keahiakahoe.” (Mahealani; Pacific Worlds)
Kukuiokāne heiau is a temple ruin of unknown antiquity. Probably, it was originally built at some time during the period A.D. 1400-1500, when the political control of the island of O‘ahu was unified under famous chiefs such as Kakuhihewa, Olopana, Kamapua‘a and Kalamakua. (This was a period in Hawaiian history where a number of large temples were built). (Akaka)
Kukuiokāne, light of Kāne, was once the largest and most important heiau of the region. The heiau was dedicated to Kāne, the god of life-giving water and farming.
Kāne was the leading god among the many gods of our ancestors, and Kāne was worshipped as the god of procreation and as the ancestor of both chiefs and commoners. (Akaka)
Kāne gives his name not just to the heiau, but to the ahupua‘a itself, Kāne‘ohe: ‘ohe, or bamboo, is one of his forms. (Landgraf & Hamasaki)
Thrum reported in 1915 that Kukuiokāne was “being destroyed” to plant pineapples fields. McAllister visited the area in 1933 and noted that the heiau was gone, but that “the ploughed-up remains indicate heavy walls and several terraces.”
In 1988, archaeologist Earl Neller reported that while probing for sites in the path of the freeway, he had found the site of the heiau. However, the following year, after further excavation, the Bishop Museum declared that the site identified by Neller represented dry land agricultural terraces, not a heiau. Work on the freeway continued. Neller was replaced.
In 1991, Bishop Museum’s archaeological project director Scott Williams concluded that the site identified by Neller and three adjoining sites formed an agricultural complex that included Kukuiokāne.
A place name and the flora around this site speak of the presence of Kāne and his heiau. A nearby site on the pali of Keahiakahoe is named Papua‘a a Kāne, the pig enclosures of Kāne, where the god is said to have kept his prized pigs. Beneath it is a grove of kukui trees, the rich, oily nuts providing food for the pigs. (Landgraf & Hamasaki)
Because of the destruction of this heiau by Libby, McNeill & Libby Company, a disease attacked their pineapples and the undertaking was a failure, according to the old Hawaiians of the district.
The structure was said to be very large and if the many stones, some several feet in thickness, scattered throughout the area are any indication of the extent and importance of the former heiau, the native conception is quite justified. The ploughed-up remains indicate heavy walls and several terraces. It is impossible to obtain dimensions. (Kumupono)
Kukuiokane heiau was directly in the path of H-3 (the sixteen-mile freeway runs between the Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam (formerly Pearl Harbor Naval Base) in Pu‘uloa, and the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay on Mōkapu Peninsula, tunneling through the Ko‘olau Mountains from Hālawa Valley to Ha‘ikū Valley).