KA-LANI-OPUU was the Moi, or king, of Hawaii, at whose feet Captain Cook was slain in 1779. He had been the ruling chief since 1754. He was a restless warrior and signalised his reign by bloody battles with the chiefs of the neighbouring island of Maui. The decimation of the Hawaiian race began in these inter-island wars before the coming of the white race.
About 1760 Kalaniopuu attacked the southern coast of Maui and captured the famous fort of Kau-wiki.
For fifteen years the Maui chiefs were not able to recapture it. During these years Kalaniopuu had frequently gathered his best company of warriors and attacked the Maui seacoast. From each invasion he had returned laden with captives and spoil. At last, in 1775, the king was the victim of his own ambition. His supreme desire was to rule two islands instead of one, and he was willing to fight for it.
He carried the war close to the home of Kahekili, king of Maui. A battle was fought. There was a great destruction of life and property. This raid received the name "Kalae-ho-hoa"--"pounded on the forehead"--because, as the records say, "The captives were unmercifully beaten on their heads with war clubs." For a time victory was with the invaders; the Maui forces were not prepared for the onset, but warriors were hastily assembled from all parts of the island.
There was a bloody hand-to-hand struggle, in which thrusting with spears and striking with clubs meant almost certain death to those who were not able to get in the first blow.
It was a terrible defeat for Hawaii. The old king had been taken to the coast and placed in his royal double canoe ready to escape if his army could not win the day.
One of the most noted and daring warriors of the time, Ke-ku-hau-pio, held his place against the Maui men while his comrades were driven back. Several antagonists crowded around him. When one fell another took his place. Heavy blows from war clubs and spears beat down the weapons of the stalwart warrior and rained blows upon his head and body. Once and again he swept back the circle of his enemies. But they clung to him. They wearied and wounded him until he began to stagger under the blows against which he furnished imperfect guard. His strength was gone,
and hands were outstretched to seize him and carry him as a living sacrifice to the nearest heiau.
Suddenly a giant Hawaiian with a very long and heavy war club scattered the group around the fainting warrior.
As he beat down the Maui warriors his cry rang out: "E kokua! E kokua!"--"To the rescue! To the rescue!"
He gave the old chief a moment's rest while he kept the surrounding crowd at bay; then he dashed against the wall of warriors and broke it down. Turning, he caught the old chief and aided him in hurried retreat, while his terrible war club played with lightning strokes against his foes. The young giant screamed with joy when he struck to earth enemy after enemy. With the insane inspiration of battle he made charge upon charge, as he pushed the confused mass of chiefs and people into an impetuous flight. Then he hastened back to his friend and aided him still further in the retreat.
"It is Ka-meha-meha the sacred," the Maui warriors cried; "the gods are in him. Kaili, the war god, strikes through his arms. We cannot fight against the gods."
So they made way for the whirlwind warrior as he helped his friend to the sea. In a few moments they were in a waiting canoe making their escape to Hawaii.
Ka-meha-meha came from this battle an idolised
chief. He fulfilled Carlyle's definition of "King"--"König," "the man who can"--the man who, after the battle, would be "lifted upon his comrades' shields and hailed as hero." From that time the young giant was a recognised leader. His position was substantially the same as that of the king's own sons.
This was a sore defeat for the king of Hawaii. He was humiliated and angry. His self-love and ambition were sorely stricken, but he did not pour out his wrath upon his followers. He cheered them and encouraged them to prepare for new endeavours.
He called upon the high chiefs of the various districts of his island for a more thorough preparation of men and war supplies, that with a new and larger army he might make complete subjugation of Maui.
This was in 1775, at the same time that in America the "Boston tea party" and Battle of Bunker's Hill were being followed by the struggle for freedom on the part of England's colonies. In England, King George was calling upon Parliament for advice and funds wherewith to subdue the blood brothers in America. Both King George and King Kalaniopuu were equally obstinate in the determination to rule the lands across the waters.
The chiefs devoted all the energies of their districts to the preparation for the new war.
The warriors went up into the mountains to find the Kauila--the spear tree--that they might cut down and dry the wood for spears and war clubs and daggers.
The lava ledges were searched for the hardest pa-hoe-hoe--the fine-grained, compact lava, well fitted for tools with which to hew out and smooth the many new canoes needed. The stone age is not so very far away from to-day--in some parts of the world. The forests were searched for the best trees from which canoes could be made. The sound of stone axes and adzes rang throughout the land. Hundreds of workmen hewed and scraped and other hundreds polished, until at last a large fleet of canoes and a vast quantity of weapons were prepared.
The fishermen made new offerings to their gods. Large quantities of fish were caught and dried for the commissary department of the new army.
The cloth-makers sought eagerly for the bark of the woke--the paper mulberry tree. They made offerings to their gods, Hia and Lauhuki, of bark and leaves, with the prayer that the bark might be easily manufactured into the finest cloth. Then they pounded the bark into sheets which they stained with vegetable and mineral dyes. Sometimes they made this paper-cloth into waterproof cloaks and sheets by soaking it in cocoanut or kukui nut oil.
Every taro field was carefully cultivated, and
prayers offered and sacrifices made to the hideous images of gods placed at some corner of each field to watch over the growing plants. A large amount of taro must be ready to be pounded into poi the next season for the warriors' poi-bowls.
The large number of young chiefs throughout the island was organised into three bands. The young men of royal blood, the king's sons and their cousins, were set apart as the bodyguard of the old king. They were the Keawe, or "the bearers." They were the supporters of the king in whatever move he might make. They were personally responsible for his safety.
The chiefs who were the boon companions of the royal family, who had the privilege of eating around the royal poi-bowls, were separated into two regiments: the Alapa--"the slender"--and Piipii--"the furious."
The Alapa chiefs were the flower of Hawaiian nobility next to the highest chiefs. Eight hundred warriors were in its ranks. They were of almost equal stature, averaging nearly six feet in height. Their spears were of equal length. The bird-hunters of each chief had scoured the forests for the rich crimson feathers of the iiwi, which were woven into glistening war capes. The regimental uniform--light bamboo helmets, feather-coated and crested with brilliant plumes, added to the majestic appearance of these stalwart chiefs.
Many were the chants and stories about the
prowess of the individuals belonging to this noble band. They were all members of the Aha-alii, or "Company of Chiefs." Their genealogies would give them a welcome and a position in any court on any island.
Allegiance could be transferred from one king to another, or from island to island, without loss of rank. Once a chief, always a chief. There could be no system of degradation from the station conferred by birth.
Allegiance was usually given for family reasons. The blood relatives were loyal even unto death to the king of their own blood. Sometimes for personal reasons, such as intermarriage or friendship, a chief would be led to espouse the cause of a new king. Sometimes captives were given the choice between allegiance or death as a human sacrifice before the gods. If they accepted the new service, they were at once treated like friends and property and marriage secured for them. Insult or injury at the hands of a superior chief was always considered good grounds for a transfer of allegiance.
Chiefs were never made slaves, kauwa hooluki--"wearied servants." The common people were in a state of serfdom akin to European feudalism. Life and property and family were absolutely at the will of the high chief, but the servant could leave everything and seek another master.
In time of war a captured chief, unless claimed as a "blood brother" by a friend in the ranks of
the enemy, or accepted by the new king, was sentenced to the heiau, or temple, as a human sacrifice. Each chief of the "Aha-alii" had the right to wear the beautiful feather lei, or wreath, and the feather cape, and the niho palaoa, or ivory hook, suspended from a heavy necklace of human hair. He had the right to sail a canoe stained red, from the mast of which floated a pennant over a red sail.
The bond of brotherhood among chiefs was a matter of individual concern. "Two young men adopted each other as brothers. They were bound to support each other in weal or woe. If they found themselves in opposing ranks, and one was taken prisoner, his friend was bound to obtain his freedom, and there is no record in all the legends and traditions that this singular friendship ever made default." The highest chiefs were called alii-tabu--the tabu chiefs. They were sacred in the eyes of the people, who prostrated themselves with faces in the dust when the high chief came near them. "It was said that certain chiefs were so tabu that they did not show themselves abroad by day."
Alexander says: "It was death for a common man to remain standing at the mention of the king's name."
While this army was being recruited, great preparations were made for the purchase of the favour of the gods. Temples were repaired and the gods reclothed. This was a peculiar ceremony. New
kapa, or paper-cloth garments, were made and consecrated to the god with prayer and sacrifices. This cloth for the gods was made from the finest bark of the mulberry tree. It was beautifully coloured and brought to the idol. Another series of prayers and offerings--and frequently a human victim--then the ornamented kapa was wrapped around the image as a war cloak.
Such preparations, on so large a scale, could not be concealed from Kahekili, king of Maui. He also gathered warriors and weapons as far as possible from his subjects. But he felt his weakness and sent an embassy to Oahu. He must have a large body of reinforcements and the only available army must come from Oahu. He knew of only one priest in the island group who refused absolutely to acknowledge the superiority of Holoae, the high priest of Hawaii. Therefore, he had requested the king of Oahu to send the high priest Ka-leo-puu-puu to combat the supernatural powers of the high priest of Hawaii. Both of these high priests were of the highest rank. Priestly prestige and power depended upon genealogy. Each of these priests could look back through a straight line of ancestors, to the days of the Vikings of the Pacific and the sea voyages of the eleventh century.
Holoae was a direct descendant of Paao, the eleventh century priest coming from Upolu, Samoa, to Hawaii. His prerogatives in Hawaii and Maui were unquestioned.
Ka-leo-puu-puu was able to prove beyond question that the mantle of priesthood had never passed out of the family since the days of Pau-makua of the eleventh century. There was strong rivalry between the two priestly lines. Kahekili of Maui desired to bring the two priestly powers into conflict with each other. This was the real beginning of the new war.
New temples were built and old temples repaired by both kings, and all were filled with gods and priests and sacrifices. Prayers and incantations innumerable were used by both parties. Many human sacrifices were laid upon the altars.
At last the Maui priest informed his king that he was assured by the gods of final victory. "The warriors of Hawaii should come like fish into a bay and should be caught in a net." From this suggestion came the plan of battle afterward carried out.
The new year dawned--the year known in the civilised world as 1776. It was the year of the Declaration of Independence in America. It was the year of increased British effort and many re-verses on the part of the colonies. It was in this year that King George's dark-skinned brother in ambition, Ka-lani-opuu, set sail with "a cloud of boats." Hundreds of canoes crossed the channel between the two islands and then coasted western Maui.
They landed wherever any little valley on the
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rugged slope of Mt. Hale-a-ka-la--"House of the sun"--afforded soil sufficient to give life or foothold. They destroyed the villages and drove the terrified defenceless people up the lava cliffs to mountain hiding-places.
Early one morning a part of the king's army landed at Maalaea Bay, near the spot where they had been defeated. The chiefs looked over the sandy isthmus lying between the two great Maui mountains--Mt. Hale-a-ka-la and Mt. Iao. On the other side of some sand hills in this isthmus lay Wai-luku, the home of the Maui king. The cry arose: "On to Wai-luku! On to Wai-luku!" No strong force had offered opposition so far in the invasion. It seemed fair to presume that they had completely surprised the Maui warriors.
Through the Wai-luku lands dashes a swiftly flowing stream of clear, cold water, breaking through the foothills of Mt. Iao. The banks of this stream had already been the scene of many a bloody battle, hence the name Wai-luku--"Water of destruction."
It was nearly ten miles away--but that would be only a short morning's race for the hardy chiefs.
The Alapa warriors shouted, "Let us drink of the waters of Wai-luku this day!" The king, surrounded by his bodyguard of royal chiefs, watched the splendid array of warriors as they hastened to surprise the Maui warriors. The king's prophet chanted as they passed him:
Over the long desert isthmus sped the stalwart chiefs on up the divide between the two great mountains, until they saw the valley of the Wailuku and the ocean waters of the eastern coast. On sped the eight hundred bronzed and sinewy athletes. It was to them an easy race for victory. Below Wai-luku lies a sandy tract through which the winds swept with power. It has long been a tangled group of large rounded sand hills. As they entered this rough region the first serious show of force met the exultant Hawaiians. There was obstinate resistance, but the onset of the Hawaiian chiefs was irresistible. They literally trampled the warriors of Maui beneath their feet. On into the sand hills they rushed, chanting their song of victory. Suddenly their Maui foe disappeared, and in front and rear and on every side rose up hundreds of warriors from Oahu--strangers to the Alapa chiefs.
The scouts of Maui had faithfully reported the movements of Ka-lani-opuu and the coming of the Alapa high chiefs, giving the Maui king time to select and place his allies from Oahu. The wily king had made thorough preparation to catch his enemies "in a net." The ambuscade was not ordinarily a part of Hawaiian warfare. In battle, dependence
was placed upon the strong arm rather than in cunning wit. Often the beginning of a battle would be delayed by a series of single conflicts between challenging chiefs, as in the days of European knight-errantry. Banners were seldom carried. Some giant chief with marked helmet towered above his fellows and was the centre around which his followers could gather. Sometimes war gods--images of hideous and distorted features--were carried by priests and thrust into the faces of opponents.
This battle of the Alapa regiment was unlike the ordinary contests. The brave warriors massed their strength and expected to override all opposition.
But when they were drawn into conflict in the sand hills their ranks were broken. They were forced to pass around the obstacles or climb over them.
From every wind-raised hill the Oahu men hurled heavy stones upon the plumed helmets beneath them, and thrust long spears into those who stormed the hillsides.
Still up the loose sand the Alapa warriors struggled, putting to death every foe, as they took possession of one hill after another, while their comrades forced the Oahu warriors back through the winding sand valleys.
The conflict continued hour after hour. The blazing tropical sun filled the struggling warriors
with raging thirst, and the waters of the Wai-luku were still nearly a mile away.
Then the struggle toward the stream was checked. The Oahu warriors were continually reinforced by fresh, unwearied men. The broken ranks of the Alapa regiment were met by a constantly increasing host of enemies. Soon the larger bodies were separated into small bands, each one hopelessly surrounded by picked warriors.
Broken helmets and tattered feather cloaks lay crushed and trampled into the sand. Fragments of broken spears, javelins and war clubs lay in splinters under the feet. Naked and bleeding the chiefs raised broken arms to ward off descending blows. They died bravely, avenging themselves to the utmost in their death.
Only one of the large regiment was captured alive. Hundreds of bodies of his companions marked the progress of the fight. This last warrior, Ke-awe-hano--"the silent supporter"--noted for his valour, fought to the last and then was beaten down and captured.
"To the chief! To the chief!" was the cry of the Oahu warriors. The wounded man was carried at once to the camp of the king. They decided that he should be sacrificed to the gods, but his wounds were severe and he died before they could carry him to the temple.
Two other valiant chiefs side by side fought their way through their enemies and escaped. They evidently
left before the regiment had been annihilated, for they were unnoticed until they had gone so far that pursuit was useless. They reached the camp of Kalaniopuu at sunset--the last of the Alapa regiment.
"Into the valley of death rode the six hundred." Like sacrifices mark the brave deeds of brave men in all nations.
This battle received the name in Hawaiian history--"The furious destruction at Kakanilua"--Kakanilua was the name of the sand hills below Wai-luku.
Great was the wailing among the royal chiefs of Hawaii and throughout the army. Sore was the heart of the disappointed king. He called a war council of the powerful chiefs of his bodyguard. It was a night council. The old king seemed to have a secret feeling that the gods were fighting against him. Apparently he desired to give up the invasion. He was surrounded by a turbulent band of fighting chiefs. They waged war among themselves when they could not attack the neighbouring islands.
They decided to press on the next day and defeat Kahekili and his allies. Before day began to dawn the camp was roused for action. The majestic masses of clouds almost always hanging over Mt. Iao were glorious in the morning light as the great army drew near the sand hills. The Maui army crowded up toward the steep sides of the
mountain as if to avoid the scene of the battle of the preceding day. The debris of battle, the mutilated bodies of hundreds of warriors inspired the great army to endeavour to avenge the recent defeat.
But the Maui army had the advantage of a well chosen position. The Hawaiians had to fight up hill or else drift down to the sand hills. In either case advance was difficult. Each step forward was fully earned. Each sand hill passed was almost as much of a defeat as a victory. There was a full day of savage fighting, marked by inhuman acts of awful brutality. The native account of the battle says: "It was not a war characterised by deeds of princely courtesy." Many noted names of valiant chiefs were never again mentioned in Hawaiian story. The story and the life ended together in this Wailuku battle.
At last the Hawaiian warriors were forced to retreat to the camp of their king, where Kalaniopuu and his guard had waited for the result of the battle.
Kahekili evidently suffered almost as severely as the invaders, for there was scarcely any attempt at pursuit.
Kalaniopuu had brought part of his household with him. His chief queen, Ka-lo-la, was the sister of Kahekili. She had come to share in the victory over her brother and assist in the pacification of her former friends. The attack had been
made, and the ragged remnants of a vanquished army had come back.
He was too heavily burdened with camp equipage and suffering men for immediate fight. He proposed that they sue for peace and that his wife, Ka-lo-la, be the messenger to her brother. The queen utterly refused to face her brother. There had been too many past personalities between them, and she had evidently been a vigorous endorser of her husband's invasions into her old homeland. Life was too precious to be risked in that brother's presence. She proposed that the royal prince, Kiwalao, her son, be sent as ambassador.
Kiwalao was robed with all the royal elegance of a king according to the customs of that almost naked, savage life. He wore his finest neck ornaments, his most costly feather cloak and girdle and helmet. He was attended by high chiefs carrying the royal kahili, or large feather banner, and a royal calabash. These chiefs preceded the young prince as his heralds.
When his name and position were announced to the outposts of the Maui army, they fell flat on the face in the sand while he passed by. It was death to stand before a prince or a tabu chief. Kiwalao was one of the highest sacred tabu chiefs in all the islands.
Runners carried the news of the coming of this prince-to the Maui king. He was lying on a mat in the royal grass house at Wailuku. Ka-lani-hale
[paragraph continues] --"the heaven house"--was the name of this home of the king.
As Kiwalao drew near the door all the Maui chiefs prostrated themselves before him, while the king lazily turned over and partly raised himself, lifting his head in token of friendly greeting. To have turned away from the prince, letting his face look down, would have been the sign of immediate death of his visitor. Kiwalao, with slow and dignified tread, crossed the room and seated himself in his uncle's lap. Then both wailed over the troubles which had brought them together, and over the deaths among their followers.
The embassy was successful, and terms of peace between the two kings were arranged. Kalaniopuu returned to Hawaii, to begin at once a new crusade against Kahekili. During the ensuing two years the war degenerated into a series of petty raids by which he kept his wife's brother busy marching warriors from one end of Maui to the other to repel his attacks. In 1779 the coming of Captain Cook changed the course of action and gave the people new things to think about, until Kamehameha secured white men's arms and conquered all the islands.