Mo'oaupuni: Hawaiian Political History

This timeline covers roughly the time period of Pāʻao and the events prior to Kamehameha I and will eventually include significant events our political history through today.

Kākuhihewa unites the lineages on Oʻahu

The population at this time enjoyed what could be considered the height of its glory under the rule of Kākuhihewa. “Because of the benevolence of this ruler and because of his many works, O‘ahu was called ‘the sands of Kākuhihewa,’ ke one a Kākuhihewa” (Kamakau 1991:69). Kākuhihewa’s concern for his people is also evidenced in the recollection in mo‘olelo of his having “treated the old people, the children of the maka‘āinana, and the destitute like favorites” (Kamakau 1991:70). Kākuhihewa was said to have “maintained residences in ‘Ewa, at Waikïkï, and at Kailua in Ko‘olaupoko” (Kamakau 1991:69). During his governance “peace prevailed all over the island, agriculture and fishing furnished abundant food for the inhabitants; industry throve and was remunerated, population and wealth increased amazingly” (Fornander 1996:273). For these reasons, “Kākuhihewa became a famous chief from Hawai‘i to Kaua‘i,” for during his reign “O‘ahu became known for its productiveness,” so much so that “its smell” was said to have “reached Kaua‘i [because] there was so much cultivation” (Kamakau 1991:69).

Hawai'i island chief ʻUmi a Līloa usurps Hākau

‘Umi was said to be religious, kind-hearted, humble, just, skillful in the arts of war, adept in physical games such as surfing, ready to seek and follow the advice of his advisors, and willing and able to labor with his own hands (Kamakau 1992:1, 5, 9, 19; Fornander 1999:IV:182,184, 230). Perhaps his most innovative mandate was the institution of labor specialization within his population. ‘Umi “selected workers and set them in various positions in the kingdom” with attention to “the work they were best suited for” (Kamakau 1992:19). ‘Umi was known to actively participate in both farming and fishing (Fornander 1999:IV:228, 230). However, it was in farming that ‘Umi seemed to have provided special leadership. “He built large taro patches in Waipio.” When in Kona, “his great occupation” was in farming as well, “and he tilled the soil in all places where he resided” (Fornander 1999:IV:228, 230). In fact, it is probable that ‘Umi either initiated or expanded the dryland field systems of the leeward side of Hawai‘i Island (Kelly 1989:98).‘Umi’s attention to improving the foo d production capacity of his island was consistent with his known concern for his maka‘āinana. It is said, “there was no kingdom like his. He took care of the old men, the old women, the fatherless, and the common people,” and to protect them he outlawed “murder and thievery” (Kamakau 1992:19).

Māʻilikūkahi reigns over O'ahu

Mā‘ilikūkahi was “chosen by the chiefs” to serve as O‘ahu’s aliʻi nui (Kamakau 1991:53; see also Fornander 1996:88). Mā‘ilikūkahi’s unquestioned high rank allowed for his birth at Kūkaniloko, a privilege of the most kapu of aliʻi and a further reason that made him an ideal candidate for Oʻahu’s new aliʻi nui (Kamakau 1991:53).Mā‘ilikūkahi began his career at Kapukapuākea heiau in Paʻalaʻakai, Waialua where he was consecrated and inducted into the sacred office of aliʻi nui (Kamakau 1991:54). His “exceedingly great concern for the prosperity of the kingdom” led to numerous progressive, benevolent, and effective policies throughout his reign (Kamakau 1991:55). He created an environment where “the people all over O‘ahu lived religiously and in peace” (Kamakau 1991:56). And while he was a “religious chief” who followed the kapu, “he did not sacrifice men in the heiau and luakini” (Kamakau 1991:56, 1992:223). Mā‘ilikūkahi “caused the island to be thoroughly surveyed, and the boundaries between the different divisions and lands to be definitely and permanently marked out, thus obviating future disputes between neighboring chiefs and landholders” (Fornander 1996:89). Mā‘ilikūkahi was known to have lived at two locations on the opposite ends of O‘ahu. One of his residences was at Waialua and the other was at WaikĪkĪ (Kamakau 1991:54, 55). This move to WaikĪkĪ inaugurated the area as a home of the highest royalty of the island (Kamakau 1991:54). Mā‘ilikūkahi was also famed for adopting all first born ali‘i and maka‘āinana males of the island (Kamakau 1991:55, 1992:223; Kalākaua 1990:219; Fornander 1996:89). The success of Mā‘ilikūkahi’s numerous initiatives can be seen in the mo‘olelo that say “the chiefs and people never rebelled during his reign. No voice was heard in complaint or grumbling against [Mā‘ilikūkahi] from the chiefs to the commoners, rom the most prominent po‘e ki‘eki‘e to the most humble po‘e ha‘aha‘a” (Kamakau 1991:51).

Manokalanipō reigns over Kauaʻi

Manokalanipō “was noted for the energy and wisdom with which he encouraged agriculture and industry, executed long and difficult works of irrigation, and thus brought fields of wilderness under cultivation” (Fornander 1996:93). Such efforts at infrastructure development created new areas that could be settled, made food production on the island more efficient, likely created food surpluses and in the long-run afforded portions of the population more free time. These additional human and material resources that such improved infrastructure provided could then be directed at whatever efforts were necessary to further strengthen the island nation. Word of such improvements certainly came to the attention of other aliʻi nui at the time. Hence it is no wonder then that “no foreign wars disturbed [Manokalanipō’s] reign,” and that it was thereafter remembered in mo‘olelo as “the golden age of that island” (Fornander 1996:93). Manokalanipō’s exemplary management of his nation has ever since been acknowledged in a famous ‘ōlelo kaena (honorific epithet) still heard in songs and chants through today which honors him and recalls his integral connection to his island: Kaua‘i a Manokalanipō (Kaua‘i of Manokalanipō) (Pukui 1983:108).

Keaweikekahialiʻiokamoku rules over Hawaiʻi Island

The mo‘olelo say he “ruled the island peaceably and orderly, without rebellion, tumult, or bloodshed” (Fornander 1996:130). Part of the wisdom of his management was his choice to delegate his authority for the administration of his island to the district chiefs. This form of light-handed management and Keawe’s sense of trusting in those he placed in positions of authority were repaid to him in the loyalty of his aliʻi and their improved ability to attend efficiently and effectively to the needs of the island. Keaweikekahialiʻiokamoku’s management style created the peaceful condition that allowed him to visit other courts throughout the archipelago. Keawe “was fond of traveling” and “traveled about Maui, Molokai, Oahu, and Kauai” (Kamakau 1992:64). Such diplomatic visits, along with his well picked marriage partners, helped ensure no invasions disturbed Hawaiʻi from abroad during his reign.

Kauikeaouli is Born

Kauikeaouli is born to Kamehameha and Keōpūolani at Keauhou in North Kona. According to the custom of giving the child away to another to raise, Kuakini was supposed to have been the kahu hānai of Kauikeaouli, but when it was thought that the aliʻi had died at birth, Kuakini left. Kaikiʻoewa, however, was in the area when the aliʻi was born and brought his kāula who revived the child. It was because of this that Kaikiʻoewa became the kahu hānai of Kauikeaouli and raised him at Oʻoma, Kekaha (Kamakau, Ke Aupuni Moi, 12-13).

Organic Act Provides a Government for the Territory of Hawai'i

The United States passes the 1900 Organic Act that provides a government for the Territory of Hawai'i. This act declares that all citizens of the Republic of Hawai'i are now citizens of the United States and the Territory of Hawai'i.

Hawaiian Kingdom is Formed

One of Kamehameha's first acts was a kālaiʻāina that was carried out by Kalanimoku. Kamehameha made sure to give land to all those who had helped him. In setting up his government, he established laws that forbade stealing, murder, and robbery. He also proclaimed that the elderly and children may lie protected along the roadside (Kānāwai Māmalahoe). Kamehameha arranged his government for success. He appointed the head fishermen, carvers, farmers, warriors, paddlers, healers, and land managers. He established kapu for the fishing seasons. He also built the heiau, Pu’u Koholā and Mailekini at Kawaihae, Keikipuʻipuʻi and ʻAhuʻena at Kailua, Hikiau at Kealakekua, Kamaikeʻekū and ʻŌhiʻamukumuku at Kahaluʻu, and Haleokeawe and the refuge at Hōnaunau (Kamakau, Ke Kumu Aupuni, 152-157).

Kamehameha Passes and Liholiho Becomes Mōʻī

Kamehameha dies and leaves the aupuni to his son, Liholiho and the war akua (god) to Kekuaokalani. At the age of 21, Liholiho became mōʻī, and took the name, Kamehameha II (Kamakau, Ke Kumu Aupuni, 198). Kaʻahumanu would rule alongside Liholiho as Kuhina nui. Liholiho would enact some of the first laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom which mainly had to do with regulating the behavior of foreigners in Hawaiʻi (Beamer, No Mākou Ka Mana, 106-108).

Breaking of the ʻAi Kapu

In the old days, there was an ʻai kapu, or a restriction on eating in which men and women ate separately. Upon the death and mourning of a great chief, however, the ali’i would ‘ai noa, meaning the men and women would eat together. However, when the ʻai kapu was lifted during the mourning for Kamehameha’s death it would not be reestablished. Keōpūolani and the other aliʻi continued the ʻai noa at Kailua, Hawaiʻi and sent messengers to retrieve Liholiho and Kekuaokalani who were at Kawaihae. Kekuaokalani repeatedly insisted to Liholiho that they should not return to Kailua becuase of the ʻai noa. Finally Liholiho agreed to return, but he refused to eat with his mother, Keōpūolani. A battle ensued at Kuamoʻo between those who supported the ʻai kapu and those who suppored the ʻai noa. Kekuaokalani was killed in this battle and the ʻai noa was established throughout the islands (Kamakau, Ke Kumu Aupuni, 206-216).

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