The ahupua‘a of Kapālama has two streams, the Kapālama and the Niuhelewai (“coconut going (in) water”). They merge and extend through the central fertile area also called Niuhelewai. This area drained into a pond called Kūwili II.
John Papa ‘Ī‘ī described the appearance of the trail (around the year 1810) from Nuʻuanu to Moanalua through Kapālama: “When the trail reached a certain bridge, it began going along the banks of taro patches, up to the other side of Kapālama, to the plain of Kaiwiʻula …”
While somewhat general, the ‘Ī‘ī account supports that of von Kotzebue in relating an abundance of lo‘i where the main trail crossed Nuʻuanu Stream, a relatively uncultivated plain as the trail traversed Kapālama and Kaiwi‘ula, and then more lo‘i on Kalihi Stream (Cultural Surveys)
“(O)n the south and west, spread the plain of Honolulu, having its fish-ponds and salt making pools along the sea-shore, the village and fort between u and the harbor, and the valley stretching a few miles north into the interior, which presented its scattered habitation and numerous beds of kalo in its various stages of growth …”
“Through this valley, several streams descending from the mountains in the interior, wind their way, some six or seven miles watering and overflowing by means of numerous artificial canal the bottom of kalo patches, and then, by one mouth, fall into the peaceful harbor.” (Hiram Bingham)
Haumea, the goddess of childbirth, had a home at Niuhelewai in Kapālama; Haumea, sometimes identified with Papa, or the Earth mother, was a female akua that with ‘great source of female fertility.’ She married Wākea and later married Hāloa, her husband’s son by his own daughter Hoʻohokukalani. She is considered the mother of Pele and of Pele’s siblings
In chants she is called Haumea ‘of mysterious forms, of eightfold forms, of four hundred thousand forms.’ One of her commonly known forms, however, is the breadfruit tree. There is no single word haumea in Hawaiian, but hau can mean “a ruler” and mea can mean “reddish (like red earth). (King)
Niuhelewai was the location for a famous battle between Kahekili’s forces and the O‘ahu ruling chief Kahahana.
At the time of Captain Cook’s arrival (1778,) the Hawaiian Islands were divided into four kingdoms: (1) the island of Hawaiʻi under the rule of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, who also had possession of the Hāna district of east Maui; (2) Maui (except the Hāna district,) Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe, ruled by Kahekili; (3) Oʻahu, under the rule of Kahahana; and (4) Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, Kamakahelei was ruler.
Kahahana was high-born and royally-connected. His father was Elani, one of the highest nobles in the ʻEwa district on Oʻahu, a descendant of the ancient chiefs of Līhuʻe. While still a child, Kahahana was sent to Maui to live with Kahekili. (Fornander)
Then, Oʻahu chiefs selected Kahahana to be their leader (this was the second island chief to be elected to rule Oʻahu; the first was Māʻilikūkahi, who was his ancestor.)
Kahahana left Maui and ruled Oʻahu. When war broke out between Kalaniʻōpuʻu of Hawaiʻi Island and Kahekili in 1779, Kahahana had come to the aid of Kahekili. Later, things soured.
“At that time Kahekili was plotting for the downfall of Kahahana and the seizure of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi, and the queen of Kauaʻi was disposed to assist him in these enterprises.” (Kalākaua)
In the beginning of 1783, Kahekili sought to add Oʻahu under his control. Kahekili invaded Oʻahu and Kahahana, landing at Waikīkī and dividing his forces in three columns (Kahekili’s forces marched from Waikīkī by Pūowaina (Punchbowl,) Pauoa and Kapena to battle Kahahana and his warriors.)
Kahahana’s army was routed, and he and his wife fled to the mountains. For nearly two years or more they wandered over the mountains, secretly aided, fed and clothed by his supporters, who commiserated the misfortunes of their former king. Kahahana was later killed.
Some of the remaining Oʻahu chiefs sought revenge and devised a wide-spread conspiracy against Kahekili and the Maui chiefs. The plan was to kill the Maui chiefs on the same night in the different districts.
However, before they could carry out their plan, Kalanikūpule found out their intentions and informed his father, Kahekili. Messengers were sent to warn the other chiefs, who overcame the conspirators and killed them. (Apparently the messenger to warn the chiefs in Waialua was too late and the Maui chiefs there were killed.)
Gathering his forces together, Kahekili overran the districts of Kona and ʻEwa, and a war of extermination ensued. This event was called Kapoluku – “the night of slaughter.” (Newell)
Men, women, and children were massacred; all the Oahu chiefs were killed and the chiefesses tortured. (Kamakau) The waters of the Niuhelewai stream were turned back, the stream being dammed by the corpses. (Fornander)
Kalaikoa, one of the Maui chiefs, scraped and cleaned the bones of the slain and built a house for himself entirely from the skeletons of the slaughtered situated at Lapakea in Moanalua. The skulls of slain Oʻahu chiefs adorned the doorways of the house. The house was called “Kauwalua.” (Lots of information here is from Fornander, Kamakau and Cultural Surveys.)
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