Birthing Stones of Kamehameha

(Kah mae ha mae ha)  Kamehameha Akahi Aina Hanau

In the North Kohala area of Hawai’i Island about the year 1758 near Opolu Point at a place called Kokoiki, Hawai’i’s greatest warrior-king was born. He would become a leader who united and ruled the islands during a time of great cultural change. Kamehameha the Great continues to be revered by the Hawaiian people to this day.

kamahamaha 054Opolu Point is a coast of lava boulders and crashing waves backed with open pastures of green grass. For centuries this place was the center of life for the entire north end of the island. As a kingdom the history of Hawaii  starts in these grasslands of North Kohala. There are two prominent temples, or heiau, here that have witnessed the sweep of great events, Mo’okini Heiau and Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau.This was the first site in Hawai’i to be preserved as a National Historic Landmark under the Historic Sites Act of 1935.

kamahamaha 032Mookini Luakini Heiau is said to be the first heiau to ever have been built on the Hawaiian Islands.  The Heiau was initially built around A.D. 480 by a high priest named Mo‘okini, who served under the ruling chief of Kaua‘i Island. The heiau was rebuilt nine centuries later, around A.D. 1370 by the  priest Pa‘ao, who established a class of temples known as luakini, and  introduced the practice of human sacrifice…….

kamahamaha 017Four tenths of a mile past Mo’okini is the windswept site Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau, now named Kamehameha Akahi Aina Hanau.……..Long-foretold was the coming of a warrior king who would unite all the islands into a single kingdom and who would rule wisely, piously and long. Prophecy and legend held that this Ali’i would be terrible in his fierceness, unstoppable in his strength, just in his laws and faithful in his observances to the gods. The prophecy continued that the ruler would be born along the wild northern coast of Hawai’i, the most sacred of the Hawai’ian islands. This ruler would, according to the prophecy, wield power of proportion unknown to previous Hawai’ian Ali’i, but for all this destined greatness, he was prophesied to live a lonely life.

kamahamaha 006It is said that Kamehameha was born on a stormy night, during which a bright star, Kokoiki, appeared in the heavens. Some historians believe that Kokoiki refers to Halley’s Comet, which was visible in the night skies in November or December of 1758.

kamahamaha 012The large boulders inside the enclosure at Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau are thought to be the same birthing stones on which Kamehameha’s mother, Chiefess Keku’iapoiwa, gave birth to the future ruler. Known as pohaku, the rocks, according to Hawaiian belief contained mana, the power to ease the labor pains of childbirth.

kamahamaha 007Pregnancy and birth had an accompanying set of rituals in Hawaiian culture.  A mother would  follow a strict diet, ingesting various local plants and  follow the advice of a Kahuna. The Royalty had more comfort and care than the commoner but also had more protocol and ritual to follow.

As part of the ritual, the pregnant royal would lay herself down on a finely woven mat atop the smooth lava stones. Retainers would surround the mother and hold her in place. The mother would use indentations in the stones as footholds for leverage. Gravity was expected to do most of the work, although a Kahuna (shaman) or two would also be on hand to assist.

kamahamaha 009When the star Kokoiki was seen in the Hawaiin sky it was  prophesied that a great leader was about to be born who would defeat all his rivals and reign supreme over all the islands. Fearful, the high chief ordered the infant to be killed. Fortunately the plot was discovered and at birth a loyal family retainer, a runner, carried the child to surrogate parents to be raised in the hidden jungle canyons of North Kohala.

151Kamehameha became a  powerful warrior that conquered and united the Hawaiian Islands to bring it under one rule, he passed just laws and cared for his people. He was a statesman that established relations with European and Western nations who had just discovered the Hawaiian Islands. Kamehameha the Great was Hawai’i’s first monarch. Those that knew him said he was  a good farmer, a fisherman, a maker of cloth, a provider for the needy, and a father to the fatherless.

On June 11th each year a state holiday honors Hawai’i’s first monarch  – King Kamehameha Day.

To learn more about Kamehameha the Great- a previous post: King Kamehameha Day

Aloha Nui Nui, Dohn


About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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4 Responses to Birthing Stones of Kamehameha

  1. Bodie says:

    Correction needed: “In the North Kohala area of Hawai’i Island about the year 1858 near Opolu Point at a place called Kokoiki, Hawai’i’s greatest warrior-king was born.”
    Sorry but this statement is incorrect: The correct year for the birth of King Kamehameha the great is “1758” not “1858” this was also the same time “Haley’s comet” first appeared in the Hawaiian skies, which is where the name “Kokoiki” was derived by early Hawaiians.

  2. Keeping the stories alive. Thanks Alen

  3. McEff says:

    It’s wonderful that every corner of the world that humans have inhabited is rich in history and legends such as these. And that tale about the star heralding the birth of a great leader and the high chief ordering the infant to be killed, I think certain other cultures have similar tales too!
    All the best, Alen

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