ʻAnaehoʻomalu, He Wahi Pana o Kona – A famous place of Kona

At the north end of the district of Kona, the village, bay, and development area of `Anaeho`omalu are famed for their petroglyphs, which cover huge portions of the rolling lava fields. Many more petroglyphs are likely hidden under the sands and waves of the shoreline.

In ancient times the area’s name was considered simple and descriptive. Today, many people consider it unpronouncable! Perhaps this will help: The `anae, pronounced “ah NAH-ay,”  is the full-sized mullet, delicious and prized by royalty and commoners. It is especially tasty soaked in coconut milk and baked in the imu. Ho`omalu, pronounced  “hoh oh MAH loo,” is to care for, protect, restrict, or confine. So `Anae – ho`omalu, “ah NAH-ay  hoh oh MAH loo,” is the place where the mullet are kept and raised to full size. The mullet pond where these piscine treats were confined still exists.

Today `Anaeho`omalu is a famous resort area, but in ancient times it was renowned not only as a producer of excellent mullet, but as the place of a great battle.

In the 10th or 11th century, somewhere around the time the Normans were busy conquering England, a battle took place at `Anaeho`omalu which helped to solidify the Pili line of chiefs as the rulers of Hawai`i. The Pili chiefs were relative newcomers to the Hawaiian islands, but in several districts had supplanted the older Nanaulu line of chiefs. At the time of our story, Kohala was ruled by Kanipahu, of Pili lineage who also was acknowledged as titular high chief of the island. Ka`u was ruled by Kama`iole, of Nanaulu lineage. Kama`iole had a beautiful sister, Iola. Travel to other districts was a popular pass-time among Hawaiian nobility.

Chiefs, with their retainers, would set sail or hike, and go about sightseeing, holoholo, or visiting, kipa hele. One day Waikuku, a retainer and younger relative of Kanipahu, went kipa hele to Ka`u. While visiting the court of Kama`iole, he met and fell in love with Iola. When Waikuku returned to Kohala, Iola went with him as his wife. However, the happy couple neglected to tell Iola’s brother and chief. Kama`iole had planned for his sister to marry a chief of the old Nanaulu line, not for her to produce heirs for the Pili chiefs.

Upon realising his sister was gone, Kama`iole sent runners out to all districts seeking news of her. At last word came, she had been seen at the court of Kanipahu of Kohala. Kama`iole set out for the northern district. He quickly found Iola, now pregnant, among the other chiefesses.  Alerted by the screams of the women, Waikuku came running, but it was too late. Iola lay motionless on the ground and Kama`iole’s spear tip dripped with her blood.

Stunned, the gathering crowd watched Kama`iole turn and stride toward Kanipahu’s personal dwelling, his hale. They recovered their senses and, clamoring, ran after him. Coming before Kanipahu, Kama`iole demanded the right to challenge Waikuku in a duel of honor. A time was set and the two chiefs fought. Waikuku, although a warrior of chiefly rank, was of a lower ranking family branch than his ruling relative. Kama`iole was descended from the ancient ruling chiefs and schooled not only in combat, but strategy and all of the other chiefly arts. Soon Waikuku was pinned to the ground and his opponant prepared to deliver the mortal blow. But, no! Kanipahu ordered the contest to stop, and for Waikuku to be spared. Kama`iole’s dagger continued its plunge.

Appalled, Kanipahu’s personal guard leaped to grab Kama`iole, but the Ka`u chief escaped, ran to the shore where his retainers waited with his great red-painted wa`a kaulua, and leaped on board the double-hulled canoe. Paddling strongly, for these were men trained in the heavy  waters off Ka Lae, now often called South Point, Kama`iole was soon far out to sea and headed home.

As soon as he reached home, Kama`iole sent word to all of the Nanaulu chiefs. That word was “Revolution!” He soon had an army comprising warriors of Hilo, Puna, Ka`u, and Kona. Only Hamakua, a traditional ally of Kohala, did not join the coalition.

The sparsely populated districts of Kohala and Hamakua were unable to raise an army to fight the massed forces of the other four districts. Unknown to Kama`iole, Iola had lived. Young and strong, she had healed well and given birth to a daughter, Makeamalamaihanae. Kanipahu sent her, the infant, and his young sons to the valley of Waimanu under the protection of a trusted friend who was a chief of Hamakua.

Kanipahu and his forces were badly beaten. They dispersed into the rugged mountains and valleys of Kohala and Hamakua. Kanipahu himself fled to Moloka`i where he became a farmer at Kalae.

For eighteen years he labored in the fields and taro patches. Trying to hide his chiefly height from his maka`ainana neighbors, he walked hunched over and stooped. To convince them he was used to the hard life of a farmer, he worked hard from sunup to sundown, always without complaint. To show that he was humble and unused to royal prerogative, he always offered the best he had to visitors and travelers. He kept to himself and spoke little, but was always helpful and cheerful. Twice, when raiders from Maui invaded, he took up his long-unused arms and fought so well that all were astonished. His neighbors decided that he must have been a warrior in the service of some chief, if not a chief. They came to love this large and gentle hunchback.

During these eighteen years, Kama`iole consolidated his rule. He was cruel, selfish, and arrogant, over-taxing the people and keeping the land in constant turmoil. But his training in strategy and the other chiefly arts, including intrigue and deception, allowed him to consolidate the six districts of Hawai`i into one true kingdom, becoming Ruling Chief of the entire island in fact as well as title. But despite consolidation, the turmoil grew.

Kama`iole had tried to restore the ancient apportionments of land, as they had been under the Nanaulu line, not as reapportioned by the Pili chiefs. But his high handed tactics created growing resentment among many of the nobility who found their lands diminished, and caused confusion among the maka`ainana, who sometimes found themselves under the rule of first one chief, than another, then another, each extracting taxes at whim. Instead of allowing the simple religion of the earlier people and the temple religion of the Pa`ao line to coexist, religious disputes were fanned. At last the people, failing to receive justice from the ruling chiefs, appealed to the priests. And the priests, traveling in secret to Moloka`i, appealed to Kanipahu.

Wistfully, Kanipahu refused. After almost twenty years, his back was hunched forever. A ti-leaf cape served to cover it. With such a stoop, how could he stand tall in the royal feather cloak and command men in battle? His hands were twisted and scarred, able to hold the short heavy `o`o of a farmer, but not the slim light ihe of the warrior. He looked down at himself, skin stained red with the soil of Moloka`i. No, he was no longer a chief. He was, indeed, a farmer.

The kāhuna bowed their heads in grief.

“Go to Waimanu.” Kanipahu told them.

When they looked up, he explained that his sons were hidden there. Men now, his messengers had brought word they were fully trained. The eldest, Kalapana, would lead them. Agreeing, the kahuna left for Hamakua. While some of the kahuna headed for Waimanu to meet and counsel Kalapana, others returned to their districts and secretly built support for this new revolution. At last, all was ready. With his armies slipping quietly into Kohala, like rivulets through the canyons of the district, Kalapana appeared like a flashflood, surprising Kama`iole.

Kama`iole called upon his allies, but this time, distracted by strife in their own districts, they were slow to respond. With support for Kalapana rising like floodwater in Kohala and Hamakua, Kama`iole’s kahuna advised him to fall back to Kona to await aid from the other chiefs. Kama`iole chose `Anaeho`omalu.

There, his 8,000 warriors would have fresh fish and brackish water while they waited for battle. Kalapana, young and untried, would have to lead his men across the sun-baked lava flats, packing food and water, as well as their battle gear, in a two-day forced march. Advised by his father’s war chiefs who, themselves, were spurred by eighteen years of frustration, the army crossed the flats ready for war.

Traveling with the many of the warriors were their wives. Chiefly women were trained in warfare and strategy, both as aids to their husbands, and as lines of last defense. Makea, the daughter of Iola and Waikuku went as the wife of Kalapana.

Ahead of the army, Kukaʻilimoku traveled, the fearsome war god of the Pili family. One day it would lead the armies of Liloa, then `Umi, then Kamehameha Pai`ea and at the last, Kekuaokalani and Manono. While he was waiting, Kama`iole of Ka`u, a somewhat flat and stoney district, had his army build stonework fortifications. He had positioned his army so that a ravine protected its right flank. Having his warriors take their positions behind the rampart, Kama`iole himself went to most exposed part of his defences and waited for the assault

Two assaults were repulsed by Kama`iole. Though the stone wall was leveled in places, men filled the gaps and the defense held. Kalapana fell back and rallied his offensive forces. He ordered his reserves, reared amongst the crags and ravines of the rugged Hamakua coast, to make a rapid two mile march and slip down into the ravine which Kama`iole relied on for protection. Meanwhile, Kalapana distracted Kama`iole with constant skirmishes along the front lines.

At last Kalapana saw the spear tips of his reserves in the distance. Kama`iole was now trapped between a frontal assault and the reserves. Kama`iole, experienced war chief that he was, regrouped his men to meet both assaults. All knew they were in a battle of desperation, for it was unlikely that any would be allowed to leave the field alive. Kama`iole charged from weak spot to weak spot, like a shark slashing through schools of smaller fish. No one could withstand him.

Suddenly, from the ranks of the common warriors, an old man stepped forward. Stooped and white haired, he still swung his war club with strength. He drove directly for Kama`iole. He parried the war chief’s spear and then aimed for his head. Down Kama`iole fell, onto the hard, hot lava of `Anaeho`omalu.

A wave of the battle surged over the fallen chief. The old man, who had spent his strength in that blow, was weakening. Kalapana fought through to the spot. Faced by the younger, fresher warriors, and disspirited by the loss of their chief and many of their companions, the survivors began to flee. Kalapana and his father faced each other across the dying Kama`iole. A kahuna arrived, carrying Kukaʻilimoku, and recognizing his old chief, fell to his knees. Makea, who had gone for water to refresh her husband, returned to her husband’s side.

Makea may have been reared as a healer, for legend says that her instinctive reaction to the sight of the dying Kama`iole was to give him water and wash his wounds. Or perhaps she felt blood call to blood, as the dying chief was her uncle. When the cool water touched his lips, he opened his eyes and called out to her mother. Kalapana gently told him who she was. Convulsively, he reached for her, and was gone.

Kanipahu returned to Moloka`i and lived out his remaining days peacefully as a farmer.

Kalapana was decreed high chief of the island of Hawai`i. He strove to create peace throughout the land. Makea, in whom the ancient Nanaulu and the new Pili chiefly lines were blended, was his loving advisor and friend. From them is descended Pai`ea Kamehameha, who united all of our islands under one rule.

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