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The purpose of this page is provide some key moʻolelo that have some type of connection with Kukuipahu Heiau. Diving into the moʻolelo of these places can uncover more detail and knowledge such as the history of the site and the people connected to that ʻāina. Knowing these different stories will help the community understand more about the heiau, especially throughout history. 

The Voyages of Kamapiʻikai

Missionary William Ellis’s records in the early 1800s stories told by Native Hawaiians during his visits around the Hawaiʻi Island. One story he recorded mentioned the high priest Kamapiʻikai who was caretaker of “a temple in Kohala, dedicated to Kānenuiākea (Ellis 1833:287)”. Kamapiʻikai would take frequent trips to Nuʻuhiva and Tahuata in the Marquesas and Tahiti. Ellis reports that upon a vision Kamapiʻikai received from his god telling him the "existence, situation, and distance of Tahiti". With this, he set out to go and voyage the location revealed by his god. He made four trips to Tahiti with accounts of bathing in life giving waters, but on the last voyage he never returned as was never heard from again.


This story never clearly states that Kamapiʻikai was the priest for Kukuipahu Heiau specifically, however, it can be concluded through context clues that Kukuipahu was most likely the heiau he was affiliated with. He was a priest of a heiau in Kohala dedicated Kānenuiākea. In my community interviews, Aunty Lehua said "there is documentation that the heiau is dedicated to Kānenuiākea. Kānenuiākea being one to elevate intelligence", confirming this connection. 

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Ellis, William. “Polynesian Researches, During a Residence of Nearly Eight Years in the Society and Sandwich Island”. Vol. 4, J. & J. Harper, 1833, pg 285-288. Hathi Trust

Kaipalaoa, The Hoʻopāpā Youngster

Kaipalaoa was a man who set out to avenge the death of his father by mastering the skill of hoʻopāpā, to wrangle with words, as challengers may be put to death if they lose. His mother, Wailea, trained him in everything she knew and instructed him to visit her sister, Kalenaihaleauau, the wife of Kukuipahu, in Kohala to complete his training. By the time he finished his training with his aunty, he went out to seek revenge on the chief who killed his father, Kalanialiʻiloa, also skilled in Hoʻopāpā. In the end, Kaipalaoa won with his quick wit and put Kalanialiʻiloa and his men to death. 

Kaipalaoa was sent to Kohala to seek out his aunty Kalanaihaleauau, the wife of Kukuipahu, to complete his hoʻopāpā studies. Being that she is the wife of Kukuipahu, who rules over the ahupuaʻa of Kukuipahu, Kaipalaoa most likely went to this ahupuaʻa to continue his training. Being that hoʻopāpā is a test of words, knowledge, and wits, Kaipalaoa learned of "the things above and the things below, in the uplands and in the lowlands; the things that happen by day and the things that happen by night; of death and of life; of good and of evil (Fornander 1917:574)". In order to learn things such as this, a spiritually grounded place such as Kukuipahu Heiau would most likely be used to train him in such arts. Even Aunty Lehua said "[t]he only logical place that this would happen would be at the only major heiau".

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Fornander, Abraham, and Thomas G. Thrum. Fornander collection of Hawaiian antiquities and folk-lore, pg. 574-595. Honolulu, H.I: Bishop Museum Press, 1917. Ulukau

Hiʻiaka and Her Lover, Lohiau

According to The Legends and Myths of Hawaiʻi, written by King Kalakaua, this story begins when Pele, the volcano goddess, falls into a deep sleep and follows the sound of a drum to Kauaʻi in spirit. There, she notices a handsome chief, Lohiau, playing the pahu, hula drum, and they soon after fell in love. They live together for a time until Pele returns to Hawaiʻi with the promise of seeing him again. Eventually, Pele longs to see Lohiau again and sends her favorite sister, Hiʻiaka, to retrieve him from Kauaʻi. Hiʻiaka navigates a number of dangerous battles and challenges, but manages to meet some friends along the way. In the end, Hiʻiaka and Lohiau fall in love. When Pele learns this, she kills Lohiau. His soul is later revived by Hiʻiaka and spends the rest of his days with her.

With the permission of Aunty Darlene Luhiau Badua, who is a direct descendant of the Lohiau ʻOhana and who was the original curator of the heiau, a Lohiau oral family history moʻolelo was shared. According to Aunty Darlene, after Hiʻiaka revived Lohiau a second time at Kilauea, they spent the rest of their days together at Kukuipahu Heiau. He would play his pahu and Hiʻiaka would dance hula. This heiau has a distinct connection with Hawaiian gods and hula. Aunty Lehua said, "Even though the story that we know of today does not include this portion, all family stories are true, viable, and need to be documented". Family oral histories such as these are precious jewels that you will not discover so easily. Therefore, we are grateful that this piece of information could be included in this research project.

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Kalakaua, David. The Legends and Myths of Hawaii; the Fables and Folk-Lore of a Strange People. Rutland, Vt: C. E. Tuttle Co., 1972, pg. 481-497. Ulukau

Ka Nūpepa Ke Au Okoa, Nā Kaʻao A Kekahi ʻElemakule O Hawaiʻi
Volume 1, No. 5, 22 May 1865

Nā Kaʻao A Kekahi ʻElemakule O Hawaiʻi:  Stories collected by Jules Remy, a French man who came to hawaiʻi in 1851.  Remy stayed in Hawaiʻi for about 3 years becoming proficient in the Hawaiian language.  Nā Kaʻao A Kekahi ʻelemakule were Collected by remy in 1853 when he visited hoʻopūloa, south kona.  remy met and befriended a stout man of aliʻi class named Kanuha who was born in 1752, 116 years old at that time and in good health.  

Kanuha recounts some of the heiau that were built by Umi.  

Kuʻupapaulau in Kukuipahu mauka, dedicated to kānenuiākea

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